As jewelry lovers, we completely understand that your fine jewelry pieces are special to you. We also know that, right now, it can be hard to get jewelry care from a professional if you feel your treasured pieces are in need of a cleaning. Additionally, certain changes in your routine– such as washing your hands more frequently– can affect how you may need to care for your jewelry at the moment. So, to help you take care of your jewelry during this challenging year, we’ve written this guide to at home jewelry care in the age of the coronavirus. Below, we’ll include some helpful tips on how to clean your jewelry at home when you can’t get a professional cleaning at the jeweler, tips on how to care for your jewelry while also practicing proper hand hygiene, and more.

How to Clean Your Jewelry at Home

First, let’s go over how you can safely and effectively clean your jewelry at home. Many things can cause your fine jewelry to look dull or dim. Over time, things like dirt, dust, and oils from our skin can build up on gemstones and precious metals, dimming their shine. But to remove this build up from your jewelry, all you have to do is clean your jewelry with the simple soap and water method.

To clean your jewelry using soap and water, all you need is a bowl, a gentle soap (basic dish soap is a great option), water, and a soft toothbrush or a soft cloth. First, fill a bowl with warm, but not hot, water and a few drops of dish soap. Then, put the jewelry you want to clean in the bowl to soak for around ten minutes. Next, remove your jewelry from the solution and gently scrub it with your soft toothbrush or soft cloth. Lastly, rinse your jewelry with warm water and either set it aside to air dry or dry it with a clean, soft cloth. If your jewelry still looks a bit dull or dirty after cleaning it with soap and water, you can simply repeat these steps as needed.

Note: If you’re washing your jewelry for cleanliness reasons only and not to restore sparkle, you don’t always have to do the soaking step– that step is for loosening any stuck on dirt or grime. Gently scrubbing your jewelry with warm water and mild dish soap for about 30 seconds is sufficient for cleanliness purposes.

Don’t Use Harsh Chemicals or Disinfectants on Your Jewelry

Washing your jewelry with soap and warm water is the best way to clean it, restore its sparkle, and keep it free from damage. We know that it may be more tempting than ever to use a chemical cleaner or a disinfectant on your jewelry, since many of us are sanitizing our homes and/or possessions often due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. However, we strongly advise you against using any type of harsh chemical cleaner on your fine jewelry (including bleach). While chemical cleaners and disinfectants are fine for countertops and doorknobs, these harsh cleaners can easily cause a lot of damage to your fine jewelry’s materials, such as its gold, silver, or gemstones. Cleaning your jewelry with chemical cleansers or harsh disinfectants won’t get it more clean than using soap and water would, and it comes with the risk of damage– so, skip cleaning your jewelry with chemicals.

COVID-19, Hand Washing, and Your Jewelry

Due to COVID-19, most of us are washing our hands and using hand sanitizer much more frequently. So, let’s talk about hand hygiene practices and wearing jewelry.

Before you wash your hands, you should remove any rings you’re wearing. This is a good rule to follow no matter what the state of the world is, since the oils within soap can cause build up on your rings and make them look dirty much more quickly. But then, now, during the coronavirus pandemic, you also want to remove your rings before you wash your hands to make sure you’re washing them completely.

It may seem counterproductive to take a ring off when you’re cleaning your hands, since you might think that you should wash your ring at the same time. However, washing a ring while it’s on your finger doesn’t clean the inside of the ring, where germs are more likely to be trapped. If you feel that your ring is dirty and needs to be cleaned (for example, perhaps you’ve worn it out to the grocery store or while at your essential job), it’s better to wash your hands and your ring separately.

When you aren’t able to wash your hands, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using hand sanitizer as a backup cleansing method. So, should you remove rings before using hand sanitizer too? Yes, it’s also best to remove any rings before using hand sanitizer, for the same reasons mentioned above. Then, additionally, hand sanitizer can damage precious metals and gemstones, since it contains harsh chemicals. So, it’s ideal to remove rings before using hand sanitizer.

If you want to clean a ring with hand sanitizer in a pinch, you can do so by putting a bit of sanitizer on a soft cloth, then gently rubbing your jewelry. But remember that this comes with the risk of damaging your jewelry. So if you are going to be in a situation where you may want to clean your hands, but won’t have access to soap and running water, it could be a good idea to just leave your rings at home.

Safely Storing Your Jewelry

Lastly, let’s talk about safely storing your jewelry. Whether you’re storing more of your jewelry because you’re wearing it less during the age of COVID-19 or your storage situation is business as usual, proper jewelry storage is important. Properly storing your jewelry keeps it from accumulating dust or grime (so you won’t have to clean it as often), and it also helps prevent it from damage.

It’s best to store your jewelry in a closed container, such as a felt-lined jewelry box, to keep it away from dust and direct sunlight. Then, when you put your jewelry away, you always want to make sure it’s completely dry, since moisture is not good for precious metals and gemstones. Thirdly, the jewelry within your storage container should not touch and different types of jewelry should be stored separately. This is important because some precious materials can damage other precious materials. For example, diamonds are incredibly hard. A diamond could scratch gold, platinum, silver or any other gemstone should it rub up against them. So, don’t allow your jewelry to touch in your jewelry box and be particularly mindful of where you store harder gemstones, such as diamonds and sapphires, and very soft gemstones, such as opals and pearls.

The guidelines shared above are more for longer term storage. If you have jewelry that you wear everyday, such as an engagement ring or diamond studs, you don’t necessarily need to put it away in a jewelry box each night. However, you should have a dedicated place for it so that you don’t lose it. For example, you could use a ring dish or felt-lined valet tray that you keep on your night stand. Additionally, to keep your everyday jewelry protected, it’s still best to make sure that it doesn’t touch, that it isn’t put in any container when damp, and that it won’t be in direct sunlight.