It’s a humdrum fact of life that jewellery gets dirty and needs regular cleaning. That goes for even the sparkliest diamond studs and most glamorous chandelier earrings. It’s also a fact that many people don’t have the budget to take their pieces to a jeweller for cleaning, but there are DIY solutions you can use at home. Vinegar has a long history of being a natural cleaner, and it’s also proven to be effective at eliminating tarnish from metal jewellery.
All jewellery gets visibly dirty over time, but earrings have a particular talent for getting icky. They’re prone to collecting hair spray, makeup residue, sweat, grease, and accumulated creams from face products and moisturizers over time. All of these extra substances contribute to discoloration, dullness and tarnishing. And if you’re wearing costume earrings, they may collect oxidization and turn dingy over time.
White vinegar is a versatile household item that can help clean all types of jewellery. It’s gentle enough to be used on delicate jewelry, but it’s strong enough to tackle heavy tarnish and grime. Vinegar breaks down the gunk and also acts as a sanitizer without damaging the gemstones or metal.
There are a variety of different vinegars on the market, including apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, malt vinegar, rice wine vinegar and distilled white vinegar. Most of these are made through a process of fermentation, which yields a sour-tasting liquid packed with acetic acid. Some are infused with herbs and other ingredients to add flavor.
A simple solution for removing dinginess from sterling silver or gold earrings is to mix equal parts white vinegar and baking soda. Add the solution to a glass or bowl and let the jewellery soak in it for up to two hours. Then, rinse and dry the jewellery.
For more tarnished or heavily worn jewellery, you can use a mixture of vinegar and boiling water. Start by obtaining some distilled water (not tap), as minerals in the water can react with the vinegar and cause damage. Add a cup of boiling water, one tablespoon of baking soda and salt to a pan. Then, place your jewellery in the pan and let it sit for ten minutes.
You can repeat this process if necessary to remove more layers of tarnish from your jewellery. You should note that this method is not recommended for sulfide-containing materials such as amber, opal or emerald, as it can react with them and produce blackening and pitting. To avoid this, only use the diluted vinegar solution on plain jewellery pieces.