Does Vinegar Harm Gold?

Vinegar is a common household item that can be used to clean various objects without resorting to harsh chemical solutions. White vinegar testing gold can be an accurate method of ascertaining its purity.

Joan Foley Adducci, author of Dollarwi$E…$Aving $Mart: Living Better for Less, suggests using a solution of 1/2 cup vinegar and 2 tablespoons baking soda for cleaning silver jewelry. Soak the jewelry for three hours then dry using a soft cloth.


Vinegar is an extremely useful household product used in both cooking and cleaning. Known for its ability to marinate, emulsify, caramelize and deglaze foods; vinegar also acts as an effective natural alternative to harsh chemicals found in household cleaning products such as bleach. Furthermore, vinegar can remove stubborn stains from jewelry such as silver pieces. If used on gold pieces it should be noted that its acidity could damage certain types of gemstones.

Vinegar’s acidity makes it an effective solvent for oils and organic cruft on gold’s surface, making it an invaluable tool for cleaning gold jewelry quickly and effectively. Vinegar also dissolves residue from soldering processes as well as jewelry-making techniques like casting. Lastly, vinegar can even be used to polish it to create a shiny sheen finish.

Although vinegar’s acetic acid can damage certain types of gemstones, it is usually safe for most gold. Gold does not react with oxygen or oxidize in any significant way. You should however refrain from using it on jewelry with pearls or porous gemstones as this could damage them or loosen glue over time.

White vinegar can help when testing for gold authenticity, due to its acetic acid content which reacts with materials such as brass and iron pyrite (Fooler’s Gold). If a piece passes this test, it likely represents genuine gold.

If a sample does not change color or form crystals when exposed to white vinegar, it is most likely made of copper or another alloy and in such instances may need to be taken to a jeweler or appraiser to confirm its authenticity.

Most vinegar varieties are produced through the fermentation of alcohol. Though this process can take months to complete, modern methods of production have reduced it considerably; production time can now take only weeks instead of months. Some varieties still rely on ageing in wooden barrels while most modern production uses submerged tank culture, developed in 1949 by Otto Hromatka and Heinrich Ebner to produce vinegar containing 15 percent acetic acid faster.


yeast feed on sugary liquids such as alcohol, fruit juice, whole grains, potatoes, rice and other plant material and convert them into acetic acid through fermentation over weeks or months. Acetic acid gives vinegar its tart flavor as well as its distinctive smell; other components found within vinegar may include trace vitamins, mineral salts amino acids and polyphenolic compounds.

At low concentrations found in vinegar and other food sources, acetic acid isn’t usually harmful; however, when present at higher levels it’s an eye, skin, and mucus membrane irritant – prolonged contact can even cause dermatitis! Furthermore, its vapors act as respiratory irritants leading to lung irritation, conjunctivitis, throat damage and bronchitis symptoms in humans.

Vinegar’s acidic nature can be invaluable when cleaning gold jewelry and other objects, as its acidity dissolves oily residues and organic cruft. Furthermore, vinegar’s antibacterial qualities help reverse discolorations caused by ageing or oxidation. Unfortunately, its harsh nature can be too much for other materials that are not as hard as gold such as stones (tin copper zinc etc) or weathered mica and pyrite which would benefit more from a gentle cleaner instead.

White vinegar is typically the most acidic variety of vinegar available, containing anywhere from 5-20% acetic acid content. This makes it the go-to choice for food preparation, household cleaning and jewelry cleaning needs alike. Other types such as apple cider and balsamic contain significantly lower acid levels for these purposes.

Though vinegar may contain acid, it should still be noted that its acidic nature allows it to effectively clean gold without stripping away its color or luster. On the contrary, however, it will corrode gold plated items by dissolving their plating layers and revealing the base metal underneath.

Vinegar cannot be used as an accurate way of testing gold authenticity since it cannot distinguish between real and fake pieces. Instead, more specialized chemicals, like aqua regia (an acid mixture comprising of nitric and hydrochloric acids), must be employed instead. To be absolutely certain that an item contains real gold it’s wiser to take it to a jeweler or appraiser for evaluation.

Dissolves Coatings

Vinegar contains acetic acid, an organic compound capable of dissolving dirt buildups and killing bacteria, making it a popular natural alternative to store-bought household cleaners. Furthermore, vinegar’s acetic acid also acts as an effective tarnish remover that makes gold jewelry look dull or dirty by dissolving discolorations that forms over time.

White vinegar is an extremely effective solution for cleaning silver jewelry that has become discolored over time. To revive dull or discolored silver pieces, soak them for two to three hours in 1/2 cup white vinegar mixed with 2 tablespoons baking soda before rinsing and drying thoroughly. For an even deeper clean, mix equal parts distilled white vinegar with salt and water to create your own jewelry pickle solution.

Although vinegar’s acetic acid can dissolve numerous metals and minerals, such as iron pyrite (Fool’s Gold), brass, and weathered mica, it won’t damage or harm real gold – although it could alter its appearance by dissolving jewelry that has been plated to appear like real gold.

Acetic acid found in vinegar can also dissolve rhodium and palladium, though it will not damage or discolor pure gold. Furthermore, it should not discolor softer precious metals like opals, amethysts and pearls that may also contain precious elements; this cleaning method is however not safe for semi-precious gemstones set with gold such as emeralds.

Vinegar can cause corrosion or discoloration on certain materials, including sulfides and plastics, such as jewelry. Therefore, it is wise to test small areas first before using this solution on an entire piece. Furthermore, using this approach only as a last resort may increase its efficacy if discolored gold becomes discolored or contaminated by other metals.

Safe to Use

Vinegar can generally be used safely when used diluted. However, it should never be used on jewelry that contains gemstones or materials other than gold due to its corrosive qualities; doing so could damage certain kinds of pieces.

Consult a jeweler if you want to be 100% sure that cleaning your jewelry with vinegar won’t harm it. Although vinegar is often recommended as a home solution for jewelry care, when doing it be careful as too much concentration of this acidic solution could damage stones and materials in your jewelry if not diluted correctly or become harmful over time.

By mixing equal parts water and white vinegar, you can safely clean gold jewelry at home using this solution. It will effectively remove dirt, tarnish and corrosion from your jewelry; just be mindful not to scrub too hard when using cloth or toothbrush to scrub against it as this could damage its surface. Once finished, rinse well under running water and use a soft cloth or dryer towel when drying it off afterwards.

Baking soda can also be an effective tool in cleaning gold jewelry, offering another household item solution to use when trying to restore its shine and cleanliness. You can soak necklaces or rings for several minutes in this mixture to dissolve any tarnish and corrosion from their surfaces, leaving your piece shiny and bright! After using this method it is highly advised that you rinse them under running water in order to rid yourself of residue left by baking soda use.

Vinegar contains an acetic acid which can effectively dissolve oils from skin cells and other organic debris that accumulates on jewelry surfaces, while also being an excellent way to test for authenticity of gold jewelry. Vinegar can react with certain metals and minerals found in gold such as iron pyrite (Fooler’s Gold), brass, weathered mica and chalcopyrite – if none of your gold reacts with its acid content it could likely not be real!

An alternative method of cleaning gold jewelry involves mixing vinegar with baking soda abrasives – an eco-friendly, natural and affordable approach that will remove tarnish and corrosion from jewelry pieces. This approach should prove much gentler than using harsh chemical cleaners alone.