The jewelry you wear, regardless if it’s a piece you picked out for yourself as a special treat, or it was a gift from someone dear to you, often defines how you feel about yourself, reflecting your sense of style and mood back to the broader world. When sterling silver, brass, bronze or copper rings, pendants and necklaces become tarnished (thanks to oxidization), losing their sparkle, you might — figuratively speaking, of course — temporarily lose a bit of your sparkle as well.
Thankfully, if you want to know how to clean silver jewelry, or clean tarnished jewelry (brass, bronze, copper) at home, the steps involved are relatively simple to follow. As we look at different types of metal, you’ll notice a consistent theme behind the various cleaning methods, as well as a similarity among the items — like white vinegar, lemon juice, a soft cloth, baking soda, plus a few other ingredients — you’ll need to gather to restore the glistening shine to your beloved bodily adornments.
How to Clean Sterling Silver
When confronted with a piece of tarnished silver jewelry, your best bet is to follow a few easy steps and learn how to clean jewelry with baking soda. You’ll need baking soda, obviously, aluminum foil, and in some tougher cases, white vinegar to boot.
- Line the bottom of a small ceramic dish or bowl with aluminum foil.
- Prep a solution of baking soda and water, or for more challenging cases baking soda and white vinegar. About 1/2 cup of hot water or white vinegar to 2 tbsp. of baking soda should do the trick.
- Set your sterling silver jewelry inside the bowl lined with aluminum foil, making sure as much of the silver as possible is in contact with the foil. Pour the solution over the jewelry and soak for several hours.
- After soaking your silver, rinse it under cold water, then gently dry it with a soft cloth. And voilà, your cherished sterling silver jewelry should now be tarnish-free.
How to Clean Brass and Bronze Jewelry
Does brass tarnish? Sadly, for owners of brass or bronze jewelry, it does. Bronze and brass are both alloys (bronze is made up of copper and tin, while brass is composed of copper and zinc). When these alloys come into contact with oxygen, oxidation occurs, creating a greenish patina layer, similar in color to the Statue of Liberty, which is actually oxidized brown copper plating that turned green after years of exposure to the open air.
Don’t give up hope if your favorite brass bracelet or bronze chains have gone a little “green.” If you’d like to know how to clean bronze jewelry, or brass jewelry at home, follow the helpful instructions below.
- Plop a tablespoon of baking soda into a small bowl, then gently pour lemon juice over the baking soda until you’ve created a pliable paste (stir to test).
- Take a soft cloth (nothing abrasive) or an old toothbrush and apply, then rub the paste onto your tarnished jewelry.
- After carefully polishing your brass or bronze items with your lemon and baking soda paste, rinse them under a stream of cold water, then buff and dry your jewelry with a soft cloth.
How to Clean Copper Jewelry
Want to know how to clean copper jewelry? The steps involved are similar to cleaning silver, brass, and bronze — but with a salty twist. With copper, simply soak your jewelry in a bowl, immersed in a solution of vinegar and salt. You can also make a thicker paste with salt and vinegar (reminds us of our favorite potato chips) to rub stubborn tarnish stains away. As always, rinse your copper jewelry under cold water, then dry with a soft cloth.