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Last Updated on November 4, 2023

Gold jewelry is a timeless and exquisite accessory that adds a touch of sophistication and elegance to any outfit. However, over time, your treasured pieces may lose their luster and become dirty or tarnished due to exposure to various elements.

This article provides a detailed overview of the process of cleaning gold jewelry to keep it looking its best.

We will explore the properties of gold, steps for cleaning gold jewelry, things to avoid during the cleaning process, DIY home remedies, and how to clean tarnished gold.

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Properties of Gold Jewelry to Consider Before Cleaning

Gold is a precious and soft metal that is commonly alloyed with other metals to increase its strength and durability. Understanding the properties of gold jewelry is essential for proper care and cleaning. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Karat: Gold jewelry is typically available in 10, 14, 18, 22, and 24 karats. The higher the karat, the more gold content and the softer the metal. Lower-karat gold pieces may require extra caution due to the presence of other metals in the alloy.
  • Hardness: Gold is a soft metal, making it susceptible to scratches and dents if not handled carefully during the cleaning process.
  • Plating: Some gold jewelry is gold-plated, which means it has a thin layer of gold over a base metal. Extra care is needed when cleaning plated jewelry to avoid damaging the plating.

Steps for Cleaning Gold Jewelry

a selection of gold jewelry

Follow these steps to clean your gold jewelry safely and effectively:

  1. Prepare a cleaning solution: Mix a few drops of mild dish soap in a bowl of warm water. Avoid using hot water as it may cause some gemstones to crack.
  2. Soak the jewelry: Place your gold jewelry into the cleaning solution and let it soak for 15-30 minutes. This will help loosen any dirt or grime that has built up on the surface.
  3. Gently scrub: After soaking, use a soft-bristle toothbrush or a jewelry brush to gently scrub the jewelry. Pay special attention to small crevices and intricate designs where dirt can accumulate.
  4. Rinse: Rinse the jewelry thoroughly under warm running water to remove any soap residue. Make sure to close the drain or use a strainer to prevent losing any small pieces.
  5. Dry and polish: Pat the jewelry dry with a soft, lint-free cloth. Then, use a jewelry polishing cloth to restore the shine and remove any remaining fingerprints or smudges.

Things to Avoid When Cleaning Gold Jewelry

To prevent damage, avoid the following when cleaning your gold jewelry:

  • Abrasive materials: Do not use abrasive cleaners, toothpaste, or baking soda, as they can scratch the surface of the gold.
  • Harsh chemicals: Avoid using bleach, ammonia, or chlorine, which can damage gold and weaken its structure.
  • Ultrasonic cleaners: While these devices may work for some jewelry, they can cause damage to softer stones and delicate settings. Consult a professional jeweler before using an ultrasonic cleaner for your gold jewelry.

RELATED READING: How to Clean Tarnished Silver

DIY Home Remedies for Cleaning Gold

If you prefer a more natural approach, consider these DIY home remedies for cleaning gold jewelry:

  • Vinegar: Soak your gold jewelry in white vinegar for 15-20 minutes. Then, gently scrub with a soft brush, rinse with warm water, and pat dry.
  • Beer: Lightly dampen a soft cloth with beer (not dark ale) and gently rub the gold jewelry. Rinse with warm water and dry with a clean cloth.
  • Toothpaste: While not recommended for regular cleaning, a small amount of non-abrasive, non-gel toothpaste can be used to clean gold jewelry in a pinch. Apply a small amount to a soft-bristle toothbrush, gently scrub the jewelry, rinse with warm water, and pat dry.

How to Clean Tarnished Gold

Although pure gold does not tarnish, lower-karat gold jewelry may show signs of tarnish due to the presence of other metals in the alloy.

To clean tarnished gold, follow these steps:

  • Mix a solution of warm water and a few drops of mild dish soap in a bowl.
  • Add a teaspoon of ammonia to the solution (only for tarnished gold, not for jewelry with gemstones).
  • Soak the tarnished gold jewelry in the solution for 10-15 minutes.
  • Gently scrub the jewelry with a soft-bristle toothbrush to remove the tarnish.
  • Rinse the jewelry under warm running water to remove any residue.
  • Pat the jewelry dry with a soft, lint-free cloth and polish with a jewelry polishing cloth.

Why Does Gold Get Dirty or Tarnished?

There are several reasons why gold jewelry may become dirty or tarnished over time:

  • Exposure to air and moisture: Prolonged exposure to air and moisture can cause the metals in lower-karat gold jewelry to oxidize, leading to tarnish.
  • Contact with skin and cosmetics: Natural oils, sweat, and cosmetic products from your skin can accumulate on gold jewelry, making it appear dirty.
  • Chemical exposure: Gold jewelry can react with chemicals found in cleaning products, perfumes, and even pool water, causing discoloration or tarnish.
  • Physical wear and tear: Daily wear and abrasion can cause gold jewelry to lose its luster and accumulate dirt in crevices and intricate designs.


Proper cleaning and care are essential for maintaining the beauty and longevity of your gold jewelry.

By understanding the properties of gold and following the steps and precautions outlined in this article, you can safely clean your gold jewelry and keep it shining like new for years to come.

Remember to avoid abrasive materials and harsh chemicals and consider trying DIY home remedies for a natural cleaning solution.

Regular cleaning and proper storage will help prevent dirt and tarnish, ensuring that your gold jewelry remains a cherished and timeless accessory in your collection.

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