Does real gold tarnish? Pure gold does not tarnish. However, commercially-available gold jewelry (regardless of color) is made of gold and at least one other metal. Take rose gold, for instance–the copper gives rose gold its pinkish or reddish hue. The higher the copper percentage of rose gold, the more reddish it becomes. These other metals can tarnish over time, so you need to learn how to clean tarnished gold at home if you want to keep your gold jewelry fresh and shiny.
How to Clean Tarnished Gold Jewelry?
There are several methods of cleaning tarnished gold, each with different benefits.
5 Steps to Clean Tarnished Gold Jewelry with Dish Soap
The first method is the simplest, which is using dish soap. For this method, you will need just two cups of warm water.
Step 1 : Combine the dish soap with warm water and stir well
Combine the dish soap and stir well, for full incorporation. Well-incorporated soap will be more effective in clearing tarnished gold.
Please do not use any dish soap that contains phosphates. Phosphates may harm gold, and the tarnishing may worsen after cleaning.
Step 2: Soak gold jewelry for 15 mins
Assuming that you have prepared the cleaning solution, proceed to soak your gold jewelry for a quarter of an hour. If you plan to clean more than a few earrings or rings, you may want to double the quantity of the cleaning solution, so the soaking will be more effective.
Reminder for Cleaning Gold Jewelry with Gem
Please take note that jewelry with gem settings need to be examined beforehand before they are soaked. Check the gems if they are not loose. Gems are bound to metals with adhesives, and soaking may loosen the adhesives and cause the bond to break. Also, make sure that you know that the gems are safe for soaking.
Gems like diamonds and rubies can be soaked safely, but other gems have high porosity or are at least semi-porous, so they must not be soaked like the others.
Step 3: Clean the surface of gold jewelry using soft toothbrush
After soaking, pick up each of the tarnished gold and, with a toothbrush, begin cleaning the surface. Use a gentle back and forth motion. There is no need to pressure the metal too hard. Let the toothbrush do its job.
We do not recommend using toothbrushes that are “hard” or “medium” on the softness scale. Choose the softest old toothbrush you have. The hard-bristled ones can cause problems for the metal, eventually. Small scratches on the surface of the metal will eventually enlarge and deepen, and they will become more eye-visible over time.
If you don’t have an old toothbrush at home, don’t use rougher materials like paper towels. Go for any soft cloth-like cotton and polyester. Jewelry cloths and rags can also be used safely. Just remember that gold, in general, can scratch easily, even if it has been alloyed with another metal.
Step 4: Rinse the gold jewelry
After cleaning, it’s time to rinse off all that soap! Open the warm tap and just let the water flow over the jewelry. Rotate it now and then to ensure that all parts of the jewelry are spotless of soap. While soap will clean your tarnished jewelry thoroughly, any residues can cause the gold to look aged. Soap will also attract grime and dust.
Step 5: Air-dry the gold jewelry
After rinsing, get a soft towel and gently pat down your jewelry until they’re dry. As a finishing measure, allow all your gold jewelry to air-dry properly before you reorganize them.
How to Make Gold Jewelry Shine?
In some instances, heavily tarnished jewelry can be hard to clean with just plain water and soap. There are other methods to make your jewelry shiny again.
Clean Gold Jewelry with Baking Soda
One of these methods is boiling water and baking soda. The hot water combined with the activated baking soda is excellent for removing old tarnish.
Step 1: prepare the hot solution with baking soda
Get a baking tray and line it with some aluminum foil. The shiny side of the aluminum foil should be facing down, making a contract with the baking tray. Place all your jewelry on the tray afterward and pour the hot solution in the tray. Make sure that everything will be submerged later on.
Place your jewelry on the tray and sprinkle approximately two tablespoons of baking soda on the jewelry. Pour the hot solution in the tray and submerge the jewelry.
Step 2: soak for 15-30 mins
Wait for 15 to 30 minutes before removing the jewelry.
Step 3: rinsing with warm water
This method ensures that most of the tarnish is transferred to the aluminum foil.
Step 4: rub away residues of gold jewelry
After rinsing, use a soft cloth to rub away any residues on the surface of the metal. As we have already discussed before, residues can cause problems later on, making the gold look duller. Residues will eventually attract dirt and grime.
Clean Gold Jewelry with Ammonia
A second method for clearing patina from gold is with ammonia.
Step 1: combine warm water with ammonia
Fill a basin with about 500 ml of warm water. Add a few drops of ammonia and stir. You may want to wear some gloves – do not touch the ammonia water with your bare hands.
Step 2: soak for 10 seconds
Submerge your gold jewelry in the solution for precisely ten seconds. Please don’t leave them in longer. The gold jewelry has to be completely submerged in the solution.
Step 3: brush the surface of gold jewelry
After submersion, take the gold jewelry and begin rubbing with a toothbrush. As we have outlined above, you only need to brush your jewelry gently. Don’t brush too hard as you may damage the surface.
Step 4: rinse the gold jewerlry
After brushing, it’s time to rinse. Rinse your jewelry with warm water, as usual, taking care to remove the ammonia solution from the metal. Use the tap to ensure that the flowing water removes the traces of the chemical.
Step 5: clean the gold jewelry with soap
After rinsing, create a basic soap solution and clean your jewelry again. This should eliminate more stubborn grime or dirt clinging to the harder to reach areas of the jewelry. If a sponge or cleaning cloth doesn’t work, use a brush if you wish.
Step 6: rinse the jewelry again
Rinse your jewelry once again, and you’re all set.
Cleaning tarnished gold jewelry can be done with a soap solution clean and by boiling baking soda and water. The aluminum foil technique is excellent for dealing with heavy staining and patina.