Earring Maintenance – How To Keep Your Earrings Clean
by Rebecca Nichelsen
January 21, 2022 / Bridal & Dress Jewellery
Earrings are often used to complete any outfit, adding a flash of sparkle that makes you look more put together. However, you might be surprised at how quickly and easily earrings can accumulate dirt and grime. If some of your earrings are looking dull or worse for wear, it might be time to give them a clean.
It can be difficult to know how to clean different types of earrings because certain metals require specific care. Once you’ve figured out the best method for cleaning the type of earrings that you have, a few simple steps are all it takes to make sure your timeless pieces remain pristine for years to come.
How to Clean Sterling Silver Earrings
Silver earrings are very popular among those with pierced ears because they are easily paired with other accessories. If your silver earrings suit your face, they are guaranteed to elevate your outfit. However, silver jewellery tarnishes very easily when it’s exposed to air over time. If you suspect that your silver jewellery is tarnished, the best thing to do is to take it to a jeweller. Silver is a delicate metal and is best handled with expert care.
There are a few methods you can try at home to restore the shine to your silver jewellery. The best cleaning method is to fill a small bowl with warm, soapy water (somewhere away from the sink to avoid losing them down the drain) and use this to gently soak your earrings. It’s best to use dishwashing soap, and a good ratio is 1 teaspoon of mild dish soap to 1 cup of warm water. You should soak the earrings for 20-25 minutes, and then dry them with a jeweller’s cloth. It’s important to use warm water and not hot water, because hot water could damage gemstones set into the earrings.
Earring Cleaning Advice
If you suspect that anything is glued into place, just use the polishing cloth that the jewellery came with to wipe it down instead. If you don’t have this cloth, you can use a soft eyeglass cleaning cloth. For the hooks, posts and clasps use alcohol wipes but you should not attempt to disinfect earrings by soaking them in rubbing alcohol. It’s best to avoid soaking anything that is glued into place.
There are a couple of often recommended methods that you should NOT use to clean silver jewellery because they could damage it or eat away at the surface. You should never use baking soda or toothpaste on your jewellery because it’s too abrasive and you should never put your jewellery in the microwave. Putting metal in the microwave can be dangerous.
Most silver jewellery is actually sterling silver. Fine silver is very soft and prone to fracturing so is often not used to make wearable jewellery. Fine silver also rarely tarnishes, so will probably not need to be cleaned very often. If it does, you should take it to a jeweller who specialises in fine silver jewellery.
How to Clean Diamond Earrings
Diamond earrings are also best cleaned using a bowl of warm, soapy water. You should keep an eye out for anything that has been glued into place, especially with gemstone earrings, because the soapy water could eat into or soften the glue. If this is the case, you should use a soft, clean cloth on the stone and an alcohol wipe on the post and the butterfly clip (the back of the earring). It’s important to clean the back of the earring perhaps even more thoroughly than the front because this is the part that accumulates the most dirt. You can use a soft toothbrush or a cotton bud to help you get into the smaller areas.
Before you submerge any of your jewellery into a bowl of water, you should also inspect it to check for loose stones or other broken pieces. You don’t want anything breaking off in the water and getting lost. If you do notice anything, put the earrings in a resealable plastic bag and take them to a jeweller to be repaired.
How to Clean Gold Earrings
Gold is a very common metal in jewellery but is often prone to scratching. Gold plated earrings can be cleaned by mixing dish detergent with warm water and submerging them. You shouldn’t use a silver cloth to polish gold jewellery because it is too abrasive and may damage it.
Hollow gold earrings (earrings without any metal on the inside) should not be submerged into the water because this could cause them to fill up with water and stain your clothes. Instead, you should find a new, very soft, baby toothbrush, dip this into the mix of dish detergent and water and use this to gently scrub the gold earrings. After this, you can leave them to air dry or gently wipe them off with a soft cloth.
White Gold Earrings
White gold is an alloy that has been mixed with other metals like palladium, zinc, and copper. Earrings crafted in white gold should be cleaned in a similar manner to gold earrings. Either mix mild dish detergent with warm water and soak for 20-25 minutes or soak a soft cloth in the detergent and water mix and then use this to clean the earrings. If your white gold earrings still look dull and/or grey after this treatment, they may need to be rhodium plated by a jeweller.
How to Clean Pearl Earrings
You should avoid using warm, soapy water for any stones that are porous, which includes pearls, turquoise, opals and lapis. Water can damage pearls, causing them to discolour or degrading them from the inside. This is also why you should put your pearls on as the final touch before you leave to avoid getting any perfume, fake tan or cosmetics on them.
To clean pearls, you should wipe them with a soft cotton cloth. If this doesn’t work and you feel they still need proper cleaning, take them to a jeweller.
You should also avoid using detergent, dishwashing liquid or any other cleaning solution to clean your pearls.
If you are ever unsure about the best way to clean your earrings, take them back to the place where you bought them from to ask for their recommendation. Definitely do not put them in the microwave and avoid using any miscellaneous household ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide on them. To keep your earrings looking immaculate for years to come, you should be as gentle with them as possible.