How to Remove Tarnish from Jewelry

Silver, copper and brass jewelry offers the advantage of being less expensive than gold, but over time such pieces can tarnish somewhat more than gold jewelry. Especially if the cheaper metal jewelry comes into contact with different substances like chlorine or other chemicals.

Luckily, there are ways to clean up your tarnished jewelry easily without having at home. In this post, we’ll explore how to do this, starting with removing tarnish from sterling silver jewelry.

How to remove tarnish from sterling silver jewelry

You’ll need an aluminium tray (or you can use aluminium foil inside a bowl), salt, baking soda and hot water (not boiling).

Step 1

In the aluminium tray, mix the hot water, salt and baking soda together and then soak your tarnished silver jewelry into the mixture.

Step 2

After a few minutes, take your jewelry out and you should see that it looks noticeably cleaner already, thanks to a chemical reaction caused by the aluminium coming into contact with the mixture.

Step 3

Use a silver jewelry cleaning cloth to polish it up further. By the time you’ve finished, your jewelry should look like new again!

Please note that you should take care following this process if your jewelry contains gemstones as it could damage them. This method is best used on plain sterling silver jewelry.

How to remove tarnish from brass or copper jewelry

You can use plain old soap and water to clean up tarnished brass or copper jewelry. To ensure you don’t damage brass or copper jewelry, use a mild soap or dishwashing detergent with hot water (not boiling). Dry your jewelry as soon as possible because water can leave marks if you’re not careful.

If your jewelry is particularly tarnished and you’re finding that soap and water isn’t doing the job properly, try this homemade cleaning remedy instead:

You’ll need a lemon, a kitchen knife, some salt, an old toothbrush, some hot water and a bowl.

Step 1

Cut the lemon in half and sprinkle some salt onto one of the pieces. Rub the salted lemon over your brass or copper jewelry, taking care to follow the direction of the grain in the metal.

Step 2

Use an old (soft) toothbrush to get into the nooks and crannies of your jewelry if need be.

Step 3

When your jewelry is bright and clean, remove any lemon and salt residue by rinsing your jewelry in the hot water. Dry immediately.

How to remove tarnish from gold jewelry

Pure gold doesn’t tarnish because it’s a non-reactive chemical element. With that said, many pieces of gold jewelry aren’t pure gold; they are often mixed with other alloys (base metals) because pure gold is too soft to work with on its own.

It’s the base metals that are used in gold that will react to substances such as oxygen and chemicals. This can lead to gold tarnishing. Tarnishing usually happens with low karat (e.g. 9 karat) gold jewelry items (24 karat gold won’t tarnish).

If you find that your gold jewelry is starting to tarnish, the best thing to do is to clean it gently with a mild soap or liquid dishwashing detergent. Don’t use baking soda or salt solutions for gold jewelry as you could risk damaging it.

Dry your jewelry thoroughly and then use a soft jewelry cloth to polish the gold surfaces. This should help keep your gold jewelry looking shiny and bright for longer!

If your gold jewelry is very badly tarnished, it may be time for a visit to a professional jeweler. Sometimes, it’s better to pay a professional to revitalize expensive jewelry with specially formulated cleaning solutions rather than risking it being ruined by attempting a DIY treatment at home.

We hope you found this article on removing tarnish from jewelry useful! Please take a minute to share this online if so.

*Images courtesy of Pixabay with text overlay added.


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