How To Clean Earrings Without Ruining Them, According to an Expert

Have your earrings lost their sparkle? Here's what to do...

We've got news for you: your earrings could be gross. (Yes, of course they are pretty, too.) We're simply acknowledging the fact that they're probably covered with grime. Airborne pollution, dirt, hairspray, makeup, body oils, sunblock, moisturizers, and more are just a few of the things that can coat your earrings and interfere with their luster and sparkle. Luckily, it's easy to clean your earrings and return them to their original shine. To find out how to clean your earrings, we consulted with Kim Kanary, a Knoxville-based Certified Diamontologist and Vice President of Community Development & Engagement at JTV.

How to Clean Earrings
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How often should you clean your earrings?

Kanary had some good news. She told us, "earrings don't typically require extensive cleaning after every wear. The frequency with which you clean your earrings depends on how often you wear them. As a general rule of thumb, it's good to maintain a cleaning schedule of about once a month."

What is the best DIY jewelry cleaner?

Kanary says it's easy to make an inexpensive and effective jewelry cleaner at home with mild dish soap in combination with warm water.

  1. Mix two tablespoons of mild dishwashing liquid with one quart of warm (not hot) water.
  2. Soak your jewelry for 10 to 20 minutes to soften residue and dirt.
  3. Gently brush with a soft-bristled brush.
  4. Afterward, rinse with clean water and pat dry with a clean cloth.

Kanary also suggests inspecting your jewelry before and after cleaning to ensure all stones are secure. Lastly, she adds, "remember, if you're cleaning your earrings over a sink, make sure to plug the drain!"

How do you clean gemstone earrings?

According to Kanary, gemstones carry a wide range of physical properties so it's important to customize their care. "For example, if your earrings are pearls, which are sensitive to chemicals, they cannot be exposed to abrasive cleaners. If your gem has a low hardness, like fluorite, it could be scratched by some cleaning devices. Or, if you have emeralds, they are often highly included, and therefore should not go in an ultrasonic cleaner," she says.

Luckily, she says that despite this, you can perform a basic, safe cleaning for most gemstones in a similar manner. She states, "for every day cleanings, simply use a soft polishing cloth and gently rub away any dirt or oils. If your jewelry needs a more thorough clean, you can use warm water and a mild dishwashing liquid to gently scrub more substantial dirt and grime. When you're through, Kanary says you should dry your earrings thoroughly with a soft cloth to remove all the moisture from the metal surface. but ensure that you dry it thoroughly afterward so that the moisture is removed from the metal surface.

How do you clean precious metal earrings?

Kanary cautions that precious metals such as gold, silver, and platinum are relatively soft. For this reason, she says the best way to maintain them is by consistently wiping them after wear with a dry, gentle cloth. She continues, "to restore shine, use a microfiber cloth or silver polishing cloth for silver and polish with long back-and-forth motions. Do not rub in circles, as this may magnify tiny scratches." If this doesn't restore your earrings to their desired level of shine, clean with a little bit of mild dishwashing liquid and water as outlined above. Pro tip: Kanary says the oils from your skin can help clean silver and maintain its shine, so it's beneficial to wear your silver jewelry often.

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