Can Jewelry Cleaner Harm my Jewelry? (with pictures)

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Some people use baking soda as a mild abrasive to clean jewelry.
Some people use baking soda as a mild abrasive to clean jewelry.

The answer to the question of whether or not jewelry cleaner is harmful for jewelry is largely dependent on the type of cleaner involved, and the type of jewelry involved. Some jewelry can be safely cleaned with a wide variety of substances, while other types of jewelry are more fragile, and harsh cleaners could damage them. Before using a jewelry cleaner, it is important to know which materials have been used in your jewelry.

Jewelry cleaner is too harsh for pearls and shouldn't be used.
Jewelry cleaner is too harsh for pearls and shouldn't be used.

There are a number of types of jewelry cleaner available. Commercial products are often best, because they include specific usage recommendations and warnings. It is also possible to use an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner, which removes dirt and grime with sound waves. Many jewelers use ultrasonic cleaners, and small models are available for home use. Some people use mild soaps on their jewelry, or gentle abrasives like baking soda, along with homemade cleaners like seltzer tablets and soda, which are generally not recommended because they can stain or crack jewelry.

Ultrasonic jewelry cleaners are not recommended for fragile stones, such as opals and pearls.
Ultrasonic jewelry cleaners are not recommended for fragile stones, such as opals and pearls.

Certain stones need to be handled very carefully. Opals, pearls, and emeralds are all very fragile, for example, and they can break or splinter easily. Ultrasonic cleaning and harsh cleaners are not recommended for these materials. Harder stones can withstand harsher cleaners: diamonds, for example, will endure anything you throw at them, except another diamond. A packaged jewelry cleaner usually indicates which stones it can be safely used with.

Different metals react different to cleaning substances; silver, for example, tarnishes easily.
Different metals react different to cleaning substances; silver, for example, tarnishes easily.

Metals are also of issue. Silver tarnishes and films easily, so using soap or an acidic cleaner can be a very bad idea, as the cleaner may leave a residue or encourage tarnish. Gold is very soft, so abrasive cleaners should be avoided with gold. Platinum tends to be hardier, withstanding a wider range of cleaners. It's best to find a jewelry cleaner which is labeled as safe for use on the metal used in your jewelry, to ensure that the metal will not be damaged.

Packaged jewelry cleaners usually come with instructions as to the safety of the product for specific jewelry types.
Packaged jewelry cleaners usually come with instructions as to the safety of the product for specific jewelry types.

Handling jewelry carefully during the cleaning process is also important. Some stones may crack if they are jarred in their settings, especially if they have been heated, and others break down if they are frequently exposed to sunlight, becoming very fragile with repeated wear. Others, such as opals, do not appreciate getting wet, and they may cloud or dull when exposed to water.

Diamonds can be cleaned using most anything.
Diamonds can be cleaned using most anything.

If you aren't sure about the materials used in your jewelry, you may want to avoid using a jewelry cleaner. Use a soft cloth to gently buff the jewelry and stones, and if the jewelry is badly soiled, consider taking it to a professional who can assess the situation and determine the best course of action and cleaner to use. You can also ask a jeweler for cleaning recommendations to ensure that your jewelry endures to be enjoyed for decades.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

Heavanet

Rundocuri, certain stones definitely should be cleaned with mild soap or even by using a soft cloth. Mother of pearl is one of these stones. It is similar to pearls because it can be damaged or discolored by harsh chemicals found in some professional jewelry cleaners.

Rundocuri

The information in this article is very important because many people aren't aware that certain types of jewelry can be damaged by some jewelry cleaners. For this reason, I prefer a homemade jewelry cleaner of mild soap and water for cleaning my jewelry.

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    • Some people use baking soda as a mild abrasive to clean jewelry.
      Some people use baking soda as a mild abrasive to clean jewelry.
    • Jewelry cleaner is too harsh for pearls and shouldn't be used.
      Jewelry cleaner is too harsh for pearls and shouldn't be used.
    • Ultrasonic jewelry cleaners are not recommended for fragile stones, such as opals and pearls.
      Ultrasonic jewelry cleaners are not recommended for fragile stones, such as opals and pearls.
    • Different metals react different to cleaning substances; silver, for example, tarnishes easily.
      Different metals react different to cleaning substances; silver, for example, tarnishes easily.
    • Packaged jewelry cleaners usually come with instructions as to the safety of the product for specific jewelry types.
      Packaged jewelry cleaners usually come with instructions as to the safety of the product for specific jewelry types.
    • Diamonds can be cleaned using most anything.
      Diamonds can be cleaned using most anything.