Gold jewelry is loved for its timelessness and ability to be paired with almost everything. Of course, this means that your gold jewelry will be worn frequently. The bad news: more wear equals more exposure to the elements, causing the jewelry to get dirty more often. The good news? Gold jewelry can be cleaned with one common household item: vinegar.
To clean gold jewelry with vinegar:
- Pour 1 cup of vinegar into a bowl.
- Let the jewelry sit in the vinegar for several minutes.
- Shake the jewelry around.
- Scrub with a soft toothbrush.
- Rinse with cold water.
Due to the acids found in vinegar, using vinegar will clean it and make it shiny because it helps break down oil, dirt, and grime that builds up on jewelry. This method works for gold jewelry with or without gemstones. For more detailed information on how to clean gold jewelry with vinegar, keep reading.
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1. Pour vinegar into a bowl.
When cleaning gold jewelry, the first thing you will want to do is to pour about a cup of vinegar into a bowl or jar. Since you will have to shake the jewelry around a little (more on this later), you may want to use a deeper bowl so that vinegar doesn't splash out. Consider a jar with a lid if you're going to leave the jar unattended for a while and you have kids or pets that could knock it over.
2. Let the jewelry sit in the vinegar.
After you put the jewelry into the bowl or jar, you will want to let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how dirty it is. This will give the vinegar time to react with the jewelry, breaking down the dirt and grime. If you get distracted doing something else, don't worry. Leaving the jewelry in the vinegar for longer than 20 minutes won't hurt it.
3. Gently shake the jewelry around.
While the jewelry is soaking in the vinegar, you will want to gently shake it around every few minutes. Agitating the jewelry will ensure that the vinegar keeps reacting with the dirt on the jewelry. The vinegar will also reach more places if the jewelry is moved around. To shake it, either pick up the whole bowl or jar, gently move it in circles, or move it around with a spoon or other utensils.
4. Scrub the jewelry with a toothbrush.
After the jewelry has soaked, take it out and scrub it with a soft-bristled toothbrush. This will remove any dirt or grime that may have been loosened by the vinegar but is still visible on the jewelry. The bristles on the toothbrush can also scrub areas that the vinegar didn't reach, like around the clasp, between chain links, or around grommets and pendants.
5. Rinse the jewelry.
After scrubbing the rest of the dirt off the jewelry, rinse it in cool or cold water. The water will remove any acidic residue left by the vinegar, as well as any loose dirt. After rinsing, dry the jewelry with a lint-free cloth. Repeat the process if there is still visible dirt and grime.
An Alternative: Baking Soda and Vinegar
If your jewelry is made of gold only, you can also clean it using a baking soda and vinegar mixture. The gentle abrasion of baking soda works well for removing caked-on dirt. However, using baking soda and vinegar on gold pieces with gemstones, opal, or pearls is not recommended because the gentle abrasion may still be too much to use on anything other than gold. To clean gold jewelry with baking soda and vinegar, follow these steps.
1. Create a baking soda paste.
Create a paste by mixing 3 parts baking soda with 1 part water. Use a makeup or a small cleaning sponge to apply the paste to your jewelry. Make sure to cover the entire jewelry piece, but especially areas that hold more dirt and oils, like near the clasp.
2. Soak the jewelry in vinegar.
Once you've covered the jewelry with the baking soda paste, place the jewelry into a bowl or other container. Pour white vinegar into the container, covering the jewelry completely. Let the jewelry sit in the vinegar for about five minutes. The vinegar will create a chemical reaction with the baking soda, removing dirt from the jewelry.
3. Rinse the jewelry with water.
After 5 minutes, remove the jewelry from the container. Run water over the jewelry to remove any leftover vinegar and baking soda paste. Dry the jewelry off using a lint-free cloth. Repeat the process if there is still dirt on the jewelry or the jewelry still looks dull.
See More: Can You Wear 18k Gold In The Shower?
Can Apple Cider Vinegar Clean Gold?
Apple cider vinegar can be used to clean gold using a similar method to using white vinegar. To clean gold jewelry with apple cider vinegar, follow this process.
- Pour 1 cup of apple cider vinegar into a cup.
- Submerge the gold jewelry in the apple cider vinegar for around 20 minutes
- Remove the jewelry and scrub it with a toothbrush.
- Rinse the jewelry with cool water.
- Dry it with a lint-free cloth.
For more abrasiveness when you scrub the jewelry with a toothbrush, create a paste using ¼ tbsp. of salt, ¼ cup of flour, and ½ cup of apple cider vinegar. The abrasive nature of the salt will help get rid of any hard-to-remove dirt. Again, do not use abrasive cleaners on gold jewelry with gemstones or pearls.
What does vinegar do to fake gold?
There are ways to tell if your gold jewelry is real or fake gold. One of the most effective ways is to clean gold jewelry with vinegar. Vinegar will have no negative effects on real gold. It will only clean it and make it shiny. However, if you clean your gold with vinegar and the gold changes colors, it is not real gold.
Can you clean tarnished gold?
If your jewelry is pure gold, it shouldn't tarnish. But because gold is a soft metal, gold jewelry is often mixed with other metals to make it stronger, meaning most gold jewelry is not pure gold. The lower karat of gold your jewelry is made of, the more likely it is to tarnish. The good news is that tarnished gold can be cleaned.
How tarnished your gold jewelry is will determine the steps you need to take to clean it. If the tarnish has just started to form, you should be able to clean your jewelry at home. Use liquid dish soap and some water to gently clean the jewelry, then dry it with a lint-free or jewelry cloth. For more expensive jewelry or heavily tarnished jewelry, it is better to have it professionally cleaned instead.
How Can You Tell If Jewelry Is Gold Or Gold Plated?
As we mentioned previously, most gold jewelry is not pure gold; rather, it is gold-based mixed with another metal. On the other hand, gold plated jewelry has a base that isn't made of gold at all. The base is covered with a thin layer of gold. There are a few easy ways to tell if your jewelry is gold or gold plated.
Most jewelry that is gold plated will have a stamp on it that distinguishes it as such. For example, if your jewelry is stamped GP, it means it is gold plated. A stamp that says HGP means that it is made of a heavy gold electroplate. Most solid gold jewelry will not have a stamp, but it could still be gold plated even if it doesn't have a stamp.
If your jewelry is not stamped, but you still aren't sure whether it is gold or gold plated, look at the color. 24 karat gold jewelry will appear as very yellow. Lower karat gold or gold plated jewelry won't look as yellow because it is mixed with other metals.
As we mentioned previously, the acid in the vinegar will cause non-pure gold jewelry to change colors. To test your jewelry, find an inconspicuous place on the piece of jewelry and dip it in vinegar. If it changes colors, it is more likely to be gold plated.
Hold your jewelry near a magnet. If there is a powerful magnetic force, the jewelry is likely gold plated. The lower the magnetic force, the more pure the gold is. Solid gold is not magnetic at all, so if there is no magnetic force, your jewelry is solid gold.
We hope this was helpful. Clean gold jewelry at home with a little bit of white or apple cider vinegar. For dirtier or more tarnished pieces, get them professionally cleaned. In most cases, just using a little vinegar can have your gold jewelry looking shiny and as good as new.