How to Clean Earrings: Gold, Silver, Pearls, Diamonds

Being in lockdown for over a year gave us all an opportunity to get round to the things that we’d been putting off, like decluttering your wardrobe, washing your makeup brushes and cleaning your jewellery. We’re sure you’ve heard lots of home cleaning tips and tricks and the occasional old wives’ tales. Does toothpaste really work? How often should I clean pieces? Do I really need to keep the buffing cloth that comes with my jewellery?

We have all the answers when it comes to cleaning jewellery – specifically cleaning earrings. Earrings are probably the hardest jewellery items to clean because of their size and design. If your earring collection could do with some buffing, carry on reading to find out how.

Gold cleaning tips & techniques

It’s so important to regularly take out and clean your earrings. Earrings can easily catch layers of grease and dirt, especially if you wear them every day and rarely take them out. This build-up of grime can damage your earrings and irritate or cause an infection to the skin surrounding the earring. Even if you can’t get your earrings professionally cleaned, there are a few home cleaning techniques that you can utilise to keep your earrings shining.

Like the other materials on our list, gold is an extremely popular metal and gold earrings are a staple in any jewellery lovers’ collection. When cleaning gold, you have to be careful as it can wear away and lose its shine if you’re not taking care of it properly. Lucky for you, gold is easy to clean, and you can find these cleaning items around your house.

To clean gold earrings, you’ll need liquid soap, water, a lint-free cloth and a soft toothbrush. Start by filling up a bowl with lukewarm water and add in some mild liquid soap. Pop your gold earrings into the bowl and soak for about 30 minutes. After they’ve soaked, you can gently brush the earrings with a soft toothbrush to remove any extra dirt that the water didn’t remove. Finally, rinse thoroughly with clean water and dry them with a lint-free cloth – you can buy these online or just hold on to the cloth that came with the earrings when you purchased them. 

This is the easiest way to clean jewellery at home, but you can also use rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to clean your gold jewellery. This technique is best used on solid gold rather than a thin gold coated metal as the chemicals could damage and remove the gold if it’s low quality. You can soak your earrings in rubbing alcohol – similar to above – or put some on a cloth and clean the earrings that way. This will help remove any excess dirt and body oils.

Silver: how to get your earrings sparkling

There are many great ways to clean silver at home. Silver is quite a durable material so while it can tarnish easily, it can be buffed back into shape very easily. A jewellery cleaning hack that you’ve probably heard about is using toothpaste. Toothpaste is handy if you’re looking to polish your jewellery but if you use a toothpaste which has a high chemical content, you risk ruining your pieces. To clean your silver earrings with toothpaste, use a non-gel and non-abrasive toothpaste. Put a small amount on a cloth and rub into your silver earrings in circular motions to polish and clean any tarnishes. You can also use a toothpick or cotton bud to get into the hard-to-reach areas. Leave your toothpaste covered earrings for about 5 minutes and then rinse them off with water and dry with a cloth.

Another home remedy is baking soda. To clean silver earrings with baking soda, you’ll want to mix a small amount of it with water to make a paste. Apply this to a cloth and gently rub them on your earrings. Once clean, rinse them and dry with a clean cloth. 

Finally, you can use a specially designed sterling silver cloth. Sterling silver is sensitive to water and oxygen and can oxidise quickly if not properly looked after. Using a sterling silver cloth or cleaning wipe regularly will keep your earrings clean and it can also reverse oxidisation. These cloths tend to come with your earrings when you buy them, or you can buy cleaning wipes online.

How to buff your pearls

Pearls are easily the most temperamental gemstone, whether you’re cleaning them or simply wearing them! Pearls are fragile and porous, meaning they can easily lose their lustre if you’re not taking care of them properly. 

To clean pearls, you need to be very gentle and treat them with a lot of care. If your pearls just need a quick buffing, use a soft cotton cloth to wipe them down. If your pearls have any tarnishes or are a bit grubby, start by laying your pearl earrings on a cloth. Dip a clean makeup brush or cloth into warm water with a little shampoo (make sure the shampoo is mild or has a low chemical content) and go over and in between each pearl. Rinse the pearls with a clean, damp cloth and leave them to dry flat. Unlike other materials, you should NEVER soak pearls. This weakens their structure, making them more likely to break or scratch. You should also completely avoid using any chemicals. 

To keep up to date with your pearl cleaning, wipe down your pearls after each wearing and store them flat. Pearls should also be worn often. They thrive in a moist environment and anything too dry or at too high a temperature will cause them to dry out. Remember: last on, first off – this will help keep your pearls shining. 

Shine bright: Diamond cleaning tips

In comparison to pearls, diamonds are very low maintenance. Cleaning diamonds is similar to cleaning gold – simply soak them in water and soap and buff clean with a cloth. To keep your diamonds sparkling, it’s important to do this at least once or twice a week, especially if you wear them a lot.

Diamonds should be handled sparingly, as any oil or grease on your fingers will stick to the diamonds’ surface and affect its sparkle. Since diamonds are such special and beautiful gifts, we’d recommend taking your diamonds to a professional cleaner once a year. Whether this is for a simple polish or to remove scratches, its important to get precious gemstones looked at by a professional every now and again to make sure they’re in their best condition.

Cleaning earring backs & new piercings

So far, we’ve mostly spoken about how to clean the earring material. All these techniques are helpful for any type of jewellery and any style of earring, whether its stud, statement or hoops. But what about earring backs? 

The earring back is the most important part of the earring to keep clean, because it goes in your ear! Soak your earring backs regularly in a soapy water mixture and use a toothpick to remove any dirt. This should be done regularly to avoid infection. Remove and clean your earrings straight away if your ear starts to look red or swollen.

If you’ve just got a piercing, you’ll need to clean your ear with the earring in twice a day for six weeks. To avoid any infection, wash your hands before cleaning and use a cotton wool pad with a little alcohol on to clean your earring. Make sure to go around the piercing both front and back. When you get your ears pierced, you’ll be given the appropriate cleaning materials but if you run out before the six weeks are up, you can use vinegar or make a saline solution.

So, now you know how to clean your earrings! Make sure you’re cleaning your earrings or any type of jewellery regularly to ensure they keep their colour, shine and sparkle. Take a look at our dazzling collection of earrings here.

Image credits:  jewelersmutual.com, cosmopolitan.com