Stainless steel jewelry is everywhere from earrings to watches to wedding bands. Jewelers choose stainless steel because it is strong, durable, and more cost-effective than silver, gold, or platinum. The metal is also rust-resistant and easy to clean. Learn how to keep your stainless steel jewelry clean with a few products you already have on hand.
How Often to Clean Stainless Steel Jewelry
The cleaning schedule for stainless steel jewelry is highly dependent on how frequently the piece is worn. While stainless steel jewelry does not rust, it can become dull from tarnish caused by pollution and small scratches. If your jewelry has lost its luster, it's time to give it a thorough cleaning. Stainless steel jewelry should be cleaned immediately if exposed to excessive dirt, grease, or harsh chemicals like chlorine bleach.
Equipment / Tools
- Two small bowls
- Soft-bristled toothbrush
- Microfiber cloth
- Jewelry polishing cloth
- Ultrasonic jewelry cleaner
- Mild dishwashing liquid
- Baking soda
- Non-whitening paste toothpaste
Cleaning With Soap and Water
This method works well for stainless steel jewelry that can be submerged in water for soaking. It should not be used if the jewelry contains pearls or other soft gemstones. If cleaning a stainless steel watch, be certain it is waterproof.
Mix a Cleaning Solution
Fill a small bowl with warm water. Add two or three drops of a mild dishwashing liquid and agitate gently to disperse the soap. Fill a second bowl with plain warm water.
Submerge, Soak, and Gently Scrub
Submerge the jewelry and allow it to soak in the warm water for about five minutes. This gives the dishwashing liquid time to begin breaking down the soil. After soaking, use a soft-bristled toothbrush to gently scrub away any visible soil. Pay close attention to engraved areas or small nooks and crannies in a chain.
Rinse and Buff Dry
After scrubbing, dip the jewelry in the second bowl of warm water to rinse away any residue. You can also hold the jewelry under a soft stream of running warm water. Use a lint-free microfiber cloth to dry the jewelry. Finish the cleaning by buffing the surface with a dry microfiber cloth or a jeweler's polishing cloth.
Cleaning With Baking Soda
Baking soda is a mild abrasive that works well if there is grime caught in intricately engraved jewelry or small openings in stainless steel chains.
Make a Paste
In a small bowl, mix two tablespoons of baking soda with one teaspoon of water to make a paste. Add more baking soda if the paste is too thin.
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to apply the paste to the stainless steel jewelry. Scrub gently making sure that you clean every small area.
Rinse, Dry, and Buff
Use a bowl of warm water or hold the jewelry under a faucet of gently running warm water to rinse away the baking soda paste. You may need to use the toothbrush to brush away any paste that is caught in a tight spot. Use a microfiber cloth to dry the jewelry and buff it to a beautiful finish.
Cleaning With Toothpaste
Toothpaste works well as a stainless steel polish. Choose a mild, non-gel formula that does not contain teeth whitening ingredients.
Apply the Toothpaste
Dampen a soft-bristled toothbrush or a small microfiber cloth with water. Add a dab of toothpaste and gently clean the surface of the stainless steel jewelry.
Rinse, Dry, and Buff
After cleaning, rinse the jewelry in warm water making sure that all of the toothpaste is removed. Dry with a microfiber cloth and buff to restore the shine.
Cleaning With an Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner
An ultrasonic jewelry cleaner uses ultrasound waves to pull contaminants from the surface of the jewelry. This tool is particularly useful for intricately carved stainless steel jewelry; however, most ultrasonic cleaners are not safe for soft, gemstone embellished jewelry. Follow the recommendations in the user manual.
Tips for Keeping Stainless Steel Jewelry Clean Longer
- Remove stainless steel jewelry before working with harsh chemicals or swimming in a chlorinated pool or hot tub.
- Protect your stainless steel jewelry from direct contact with hairspray, perfumes, and other cosmetics which contain alcohol or other ingredients that can dull and erode the finish. A general rule of thumb to protect jewelry is that it should be the first thing you take off and the last thing you put on.
- Store stainless steel jewelry in a closed jewelry box or soft bags to protect it from dust and prevent scratches from other metals.
- Do not use harsh abrasive cleaners when cleaning stainless steel jewelry.