How to Clean Your Rings at Home Like a Pro
Who doesn’t love wearing jewellery, especially if it carries a special meaning? It elevates our look, it makes heads turn, and it’s simply a feast for the eye. Sadly, our beloved rings age over time, just like people.
They get scratches, tarnish, and lose their ‘wow’ factor. Some enjoy this ‘vintage’ stage in the life of their jewellery but most people would like to bring back that shiny look they enjoyed so much. If you, too, have a ring that requires fast cosmetic first-aid but you’re not sure what to do exactly, you’re in the right place.
Just like you, I used to stare at my faded rings and dreamed of reviving their brilliance without spending too much time and money. The internet is bristling with ideas on how to clean engagement or wedding rings at home but I could never find a wholesome guide.
So, I decided to test a lot of these methods people shared to compile the best ones that legitimately worked to help regain a ring’s original shine.
I put together a simple guide on how to clean your rings using cleaning supplies you likely already have at home. Make sure to read on to ensure your precious finger ornaments stay nice and shiny!
First Things First – Gather Your Tools
Before you start, you need to grab a few items from your kitchen and bathroom. These are:
- A bowl (I recommend using a ceramic or glass one because it won’t react with any chemicals);
- An old toothbrush you don’t use anymore; from my experience, children’s toothbrushes are the best because they have the softest bristles;
- A piece of soft cloth (microfiber, for instance) or cotton; paper towels won’t do because they can leave scratches on delicate materials;
- Dish soap, non-abrasive detergent, body wash, or shampoo.
You might also have some powerful chemicals in your home such as ammonia, bleach, solvents, chlorine, etc. While they remove dust, dirt, and grease almost instantly, they will also corrode precious metals leaving ugly scars, discolouration spots, and blemishes.
Nasty Stuff! So let’s stick to methods and materials that work a tad slower, but much safer.
Know Your Metal
After you gather all these cleaning essentials, you should identify what material your ring is made of. Some metals are harder, some are softer; you can scrub the former more vigorously but need to be very gentle with the latter.
Moreover, certain metals can go into chemical reactions with household cleaning products while others lack chemical reactivity. You need to keep reactive metals from anything capable of corroding them.
If you’re not sure what you can and can’t do with your jewellery to refresh its look, take a glance at these step-by-step guides I’ve put together for all the main types of rings. They will teach you how to clean wedding and engagement rings made of the most popular materials.
You can skip to the ring cleaning guide specific to your base material by clicking on one of the buttons below:
How to Clean a Diamond Ring
Diamonds are one of the hardest minerals used in jewellery meaning it is nearly impossible to scratch or break one unless you’re rubbing two diamonds against each other. Nevertheless, your sparkling jewel can easily get dull due to residues from hand and body lotions, hair products, or household chemicals. The following steps will help restore its dazzling sheen:
- Take a bowl and fill it with hot water;
- Add a few squirts of dishwashing liquid;
- Put your diamond ring in this solution and let it sit for 30-40 minutes;
- Grab a soft toothbrush and carefully scrub your diamond;
- When you remove all the grime, rinse the ring under warm water and wipe it dry.
If after doing this your diamond ring isn’t clean enough, you can repeat these steps again. Just add a few additional drops of shower gel or shampoo for more lather. Make sure you avoid products featuring oils since they tend to leave a thin greasy film on the surface.
Clean your diamond ring every other week and it will look as sparkling as the first day you put it on your finger!
How to Clean a Silver Ring
Silver is a beautiful and noble metal known for its pale subtle sheen. Unfortunately, it’s also notoriously known for tarnishing. Like this wasn’t enough, sterling silver (your ring is probably made of this alloy featuring 92.5% of pure silver) is a bit softer than 14K gold meaning it is prone to scratches.
Therefore, you should avoid using abrasive chemicals (like baking soda or toothpaste) or cloths with a coarse texture to rub your ring; otherwise, it’s going to look like it survived a war!
The method I described above works fine with pure and sterling silver alike. However, if warm water with dishwashing soap didn’t do the trick, bring out the heavy artillery:
- Add half a cup of lemon juice and a few drops of olive oil to soapy water and let your ring sit in it for 30 minutes;
- Soak a soft cloth in this solution and rub the ring with it;
- Remove residual oil with warm water and soap.
Instead of lemon juice, you can use white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. However, steer clear of these compounds if your ring features gemstone inlays – chemical reactions may cause colour change or matting.
Here is one more effective ring cleaning solution that showed great results for heavily-tarnished silver jewellery:
- Line a bowl with aluminium foil;
- Put your ring in the bowl, right onto the foil;
- Fill the bowl with boiling water;
- Pour a tablespoon of baking soda; be careful when doing so because the solution may froth;
- Wait 10 minutes and then dry your piece with a cloth.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t use this method if your ring features oxidized or blackened design elements. The chemical reaction occurring between silver and aluminium will make them vanish into thin air.
How to Clean a Gold Ring
It doesn’t matter which type of gold you wear – yellow, rose, or white – you can safely clean it utilising hot water, dish soap, and soft-bristled brush as described in the How to Clean a Diamond Ring section. This method will do nicely for both gem-clad items and plain rings.
If you’re wondering how to clean your engagement or wedding ring without any rubbing motion at all, here is an alternative that can work:
- Add some ammonia to a bowl of warm water. Use ammonia and water in the proportion of one-to-six.
- Put your jewellery in this mixture for one minute.
- Use rubber gloves or a small strainer to get the ring out of ammonia solution;
- Rinse it under running water and blot dry with a soft cloth.
Please be very careful with ammonia when cleaning rings. Make sure your room is well-ventilated and you wear protective gears (gloves, goggles, and long sleeves). I found that this method is not suitable if your jewellery features pearls, platinum inlays, or any porous gemstones (more on this later).
Ammonia is a very powerful chemical that can damage gold rings if used too often. Therefore, you should rely on it only for the occasional deep clean… similar to how people get laser teeth whitening once a year.
How to Clean a Platinum Ring
Platinum is 60% harder than gold meaning it is pretty resistant to scratches. Unlike silver, it preserves its lustrous finish for a long time because it doesn’t develop tarnish. As a result, you don’t have to scrub your platinum ring really hard to remove stains or dark blobs.
Nevertheless, if it gets too dirty, it can easily withstand some good rubbing. The cleaning method of hot water, dishwashing soap, and toothbrush works the best with platinum items.
At the same time, keep away from any chemical compounds containing ammonia, acetone, or chlorine. They won’t harm platinum but the problem is that jewellery made of pure platinum doesn’t exist. Even top-of-the-line alloys feature base metals and trust me… they don’t do well when harsh chemicals are involved!
How to Clean a Palladium Ring
Thanks to its pristine white lustre, palladium is considered to be one of the best picks for wedding jewellery. If the bauble you’re flaunting is made of this precious metal, you surely need to know how to clean your wedding ring to keep it in tip-top shape.
Luckily palladium rings are relatively simple to clean. Soaking your band in soapy warm water for 30 minutes should remove dust and residue stuck to its surface.
In some rare cases though, this won’t be enough to regain the original shine.
What it really needs is a thorough but gentle rub. I suggest making a paste out of lemon juice and baking soda, spreading it all over your ring except for gemstone inlays, and scrubbing it with a soft toothbrush.
Palladium doesn’t pick scratches too easily so mildly abrasive baking soda and careful application shouldn’t cause any damage.
How to Clean a Titanium Ring
Titanium rings left in a bowl of warm soapy water for 30-40 minutes should lose ingrained grime and grease. If you gave this method a shot and it fell short, here is another solution that worked for me:
- Soak your titanium ring in warm water mixed with dishwashing soap and baking soda for half an hour.
- Make a cleaning paste using baking soda and water;
- Apply this paste onto the ring and gently rub with a soft toothbrush;
- Rinse the ring off with clear water.
Titanium is a really durable metal so you would have to try very hard to damage it. Is it scratch-resistant? Unfortunately, it is not.
However, it is nearly impossible to leave deep scuffs or scratches on its surface. So you shouldn’t worry that soda may negatively impact your ring’s look. That being said, I don’t recommend using any abrasives for anodized titanium jewellery because colour changes occur only in the surface layers.
If you scrub your ring too enthusiastically, you might scrape off the coloured finish. For a similar reason, ammonium is definitely a no-go for titanium ring cleaning.
How to Clean a Tungsten Ring
Ammonia, chlorine, bleach, and other harsh chemicals may enter into a chemical reaction with tungsten or components that make up its alloys thus causing irreparable changes in colour or texture (for example, a shiny polished finish may get dull and matt).
The best cleaning solution for this type of jewellery is hand soap or mild detergent added to warm water. Leave your ring for half an hour in this solution to loosen dirt and then carefully rub it with a toothbrush or cotton swab to get rid of the stubborn residue in the nooks and crannies.
How to Clean a Wood Ring
All wooden rings are varnished to protect the delicate material from moisture. This protective finish makes them water-resistant but it is not waterproof. This means that you can’t leave your ring soaking in water even for a few minutes – this will permanently damage appearance, texture, and connections between wood fibres.
Wood is also sensitive to chemicals, especially solvents. Hence, you must keep them away from spirits, alcohol, sprays, perfumes, antibacterial soaps & wipes, essential oils, hair products… the list can go on and on.
The best ring cleaning option for wood body ornaments is simply rubbing them with a dry soft cloth every once in a while.
How to Clean Different Gemstones
It is more than likely that your ring feature some kind of gemstone such as precious diamonds, rubies, and sapphires, semi-precious agates, lapis lazuli, and turquoise, or non-precious cubic zirconia.
So the big question is, can you treat these minerals the same way you treat metal?
But you’re probably wondering, then how am I supposed to clean my engagement or wedding ring adorned with gemstone inlays? Below, I provide the few methods I’ve tried with success along with cautions.
You should never insert jewellery with precious stones into boiling or hot water. Gems that are not particularly dense (opal, amber, turquoise, obsidian, etc.) may crack if you expose them to significant temperature changes.
If your ring is embellished with diamonds, rubies, or sapphires, i.e. the toughest minerals, it’s fine to clean them with popular household chemicals including dishwashing soap, ammonia, or Windex.
That being said, make sure to consider the type of metal they are mounted on to – what’s acceptable for hard gemstones may negatively impact delicate precious metals.
You should be very careful with emeralds, jades, garnets, topaz, opals, and other semi-precious gems, especially if they are of organic origin (pearls, mother of pearl, amber, etc.). These jewels are relatively soft and porous so corrosive household chemicals will sabotage their natural structure and appearance.
The things that won’t hurt your precious and not-so-precious stones are mild detergent, warm water, and gentle rubbing. Give them a bath with these ingredients every other week and they will remain as pristine as they were when you bought them from the shops!
Remember to Regularly Clean Your Rings
Now you should have a pretty good idea of how to clean your engagement or wedding ring no matter which materials it consists of. Don’t forget that jewellery accumulates dirt on a daily so regular bath sessions are a must to keep it clean and shiny.
Sometimes, you can come across especially stubborn dirt. While it is possible to deep-clean your precious rings at home using powerful household chemicals, I recommend entrusting this job to pros.
Take your rings to a reputable jewellery shop at least once a year for a professional clean. Give them the TLC they deserve and they will reward you with a dazzling shine that will impress anyone!
You can expect anywhere from £30-£60 depending on the level of service required and the makeup of the ring. For example, if you have a plain ring it would usually cost less to clean than a diamond ring that requires cleaning the base as well as the gemstone. The material will also play a factor because gold and silver rings may need replating whereas platinum rings don’t.
Retailers sometimes do offer free cleaning services for customers who have purchased rings from them. It’s best to contact them directly and double-check what options are available.
It’s generally recommended you at least get them cleaned twice a year minimum. I would personally say it’s a good idea to clean your rings three times a year, twice at home and once professionally at a shop. Overall it depends on what you do on a daily and you should change your ring cleaning frequency based on that.
Yes. This can definitely be an issue, especially if you’re using strong cleaning chemicals such as ammonia on a gold ring. I recommend that you only deep clean with such chemicals once a year.