How to Clean and Care for Your Earrings:
The Ultimate Guide

Earrings are one of the most popular and versatile accessories in any jewelry collection. As with all jewelry, proper care and maintenance are essential to keep them looking their best and to extend their lifespan.

In this ultimate guide, we will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to clean and care for your earrings. Whether you want to remove dirt and grime from your favorite pair of silver hoops, prevent tarnish on your diamond studs, or store your earrings properly to ensure maximum longevity, we’ve got you covered.

Cleaning and caring for your earrings may seem like a daunting task, especially if you have a large collection or if you wear them frequently. However, with a little know-how and some basic tools, you can keep your earrings looking shiny and new, and avoid common problems like discoloration, corrosion, or loss of shine.

With our tips and tricks, you'll have your jewelry looking shiny and new in no time! So, without further ado, let’s dive into the best practices of cleaning and caring for your earrings.

Cleaning different types of earrings at home

Washing hoop earrings under running water

It's quite easy to clean your earrings by yourself. To ensure success, you only need to know one thing—your earring material. Because different materials react differently to cleaning agents, it's essential to clean earrings differently depending on the materials used.

Using the wrong cleaning method or solution might simply be ineffective or, in the worst case, cause damage, discoloration, or even breakage.

Properly cleaning your earrings also means doing just enough to make the earring look shiny and new. Anything past that is overdoing it.

So, let's see what proper cleaning means for different types of earrings.

Gold earrings

This method is viable for white, rose, and yellow gold earrings that are gold throughout rather than plated.

Here's how to properly clean your gold earrings in three simple steps:

  1. Mix hot water (70-90°C or 160-195°F) and any regular dish soap into a glass or bowl and let the earrings sit there for 10-30 minutes, depending on how dirty they are.
  2. Use a soft toothbrush to brush the remaining stubborn dirt off gently. A toothpick is also a viable option for harder-to-reach areas.
  3. Rinse the earrings with water and dry them with a clean microfiber cloth (a regular towel is also fine as long as it's not a looped towel, as these can leave fibers that scratch the earrings—paper towels are a no-no).

Gold vermeil and gold plated earrings

Properly cleaning your gold-plated and gold vermeil earrings requires a different approach than solid gold earrings.

Here's how to clean your gold vermeil and gold-plated earrings in three simple steps:

  1. Mix lukewarm water (38°C or 100°F) and any regular dish soap into a glass or bowl.
  2. Wet a soft, lint-free cloth (ideally microfiber) in the soap water solution and use it to brush the dirt off gently. Don't use a toothbrush, even one with soft bristles, and avoid completely submerging the earrings in the water.
  3. For gold vermeil, rinse the earrings with cold water and dry them with a clean microfiber cloth. For gold-plated earrings, use another lint-free cloth dipped in plain water to dissolve the soap and carefully pat dry afterward.

Silver earrings

To effortlessly clean your silver and sterling silver earrings, you'll need more than just soap and water—baking soda and tin foil.

Here's how to clean your silver earrings in three simple steps:

  1. Mix 1dl (half-cup) of hot or near-boiling water (60-90°C or 140-195°F) with two tablespoons of baking soda to create a smooth paste.
  2. Coat your earrings generously with the paste and wrap them in tin foil for 10 minutes.
  3. Open the foil and use a soft toothbrush to clear any remaining dirt or tarnish. Once done, rinse the earrings in plain water and use a plain towel to dry them.

Pro tip: if the dirt or tarnish is stubborn, you can repeat the steps multiple times or try to increase the time in tin foil to achieve the preferred result.

Bronze earrings

Bronze earrings can be tricky to clean properly. However, with lemon and baking soda, you'll have your bronze earrings squeaky clean in no time.

Here's how to clean your bronze earrings in three simple steps:

  1. Mix 1dl (half-cup) of lukewarm water (38°C or 100°F) with two tablespoons of baking soda and a tablespoon of lemon juice (one squeezed slice) to create a smooth paste.
  2. Use a clean, soft toothbrush to apply the paste and brush the earrings until the dirt or discoloring is gone. Make sure to use the paste generously.
  3. Rinse the earrings in plain water and use a regular towel to dry them.

Pearl earrings

Unlike precious metals, pearls are quite delicate and require extra carefulness. Therefore, avoiding vigorous scrubbing and chemicals is highly recommended when cleansing pearl earrings.

Here's the proper way to clean your pearl earrings in three simple steps:

  1. Dip a soft microfiber cloth into lukewarm water (38°C or 100°F) and remove any extra water by squeezing the fabric.
  2. With the damp microfiber cloth, gently wipe the pearls clean. Pay extra attention to the task and avoid pressing too hard.
  3. Use a dry microfiber cloth to pat the pearl earrings waterless and let the pearl earrings sit for at least 30 minutes to get rid of any remaining moisture.

Crystal and zirconia earrings

Crystal and zirconia earrings are easy to clean as long as you don't use too harsh ingredients or hard pressure.

Here's the proper way to clean your crystal and zirconia earrings in three simple steps:

  1. Mix lukewarm water (38°C or 100°F) with a mild, ph neutral dish soap. Any hotter than lukewarm water might damage the stone.
  2. While avoiding putting too much pressure on the stone, wash the earrings in the soapy water for up to two minutes using your hands or a soft toothbrush.
  3. Rinse with plain cold water to remove any leftover soap, and use a lint-free cloth to dry.

Diamond earrings

Although diamonds are often referred to as the toughest naturally occurring material on earth, you should still be gentle while cleaning them.

Here's how to properly clean your diamond earrings in three simple steps:

  1. Mix warm water (38-50°C or 100-125°F) and a few drops of mild dish soap into a glass or bowl and let the earrings sit there for 20-40 minutes.
  2. After soaking, use a soft toothbrush to brush the diamond earrings for any remaining dirt.
  3. Dry with a lint-free cloth. A standard hand towel will do, but a microfiber cloth is the preferred choice.

Pro tip: you can make the first step more effective by softly mixing the earrings with your finger a few times while they're in the soap water.

How often should you clean your earrings?

Earrings are a popular accessory that can add an extra touch of style and personality to any outfit. Whether you prefer studs, hoops, or chandelier earrings, it's a good practice to keep them clean to prevent the buildup of dirt, oils, and bacteria that can cause skin irritation and infections.

But how often should you clean your earrings? Let's dive into the details.

Clean your earrings daily with a soft cloth

The short answer? A quick wipe after every wear and a deeper clean once a year is generally recommended.

It can be more complicated, though.

First and foremost, the frequency of cleaning your earrings depends on the type of material they are made of. For instance, gold and silver earrings can withstand regular cleaning without tarnishing or corroding, while costume jewelry or earrings with gemstones may require more delicate care.

Also, if you have sensitive skin or allergies, you may need to clean your earrings more frequently to avoid skin irritation or infections.

If you wear your earrings regularly, it's a good idea to wipe them with a soft cloth daily and give them a deeper clean once or twice a year. This can help remove any buildup that may have accumulated despite your regular cleaning routine.

For earrings that you wear less frequently, such as special occasions or seasonal ones, it's a good idea to clean them before storing them away. This will prevent any dust or dirt from settling on the earrings and ensure that they are ready to wear the next time you need them.

Simply wipe your earrings with a soft, clean cloth or use a gentle jewelry cleaner to remove any residue.

Preventing tarnish and damage for longevity

Since deep cleaning is quite easy to do by yourself at home and it only needs to be done seldomly, isn't it unnecessary to take any extra preventive steps to protect your earrings from tarnishing?

Well, yes and no.

To be fair, you can get pretty far by quickly wiping your earrings after every use, especially if you combine it with the occasional deep clean. Of course, the fact that the oldest pair of earrings known today is from 2500 BCE and in exceptional condition isn't really helping, either.

This doesn't mean that you should ignore all preventative measures, though.

To make maintenance as easy and effortless as possible, we've gathered the most effective and straightforward rules you can follow to keep your earrings in shiny condition and possibly even extend their lifespan.

Keep your earrings dry. It's hands down the most effective way to prevent any tarnish from forming in the first place. Because water acts as a carrier for reactive ions and corrosive gases, it's wise to avoid it altogether. Sea, pool, and hot water are the most important to avoid. This also applies to waterproof earrings—just because they are waterproof doesn't mean you shouldn't avoid getting them wet.

One exception: pure gold (24k) doesn't combine well with oxygen, so it doesn't corrode, rust, or tarnish.

Avoid harsh chemicals. Chemicals and unnatural substances like perfumes and cosmetics can cause damage to the metal and finish of earrings, leading to discoloration, tarnishing, or even corrosion. Although metals like gold, silver, and stainless steel aren't particularly prone to be impacted by chemicals, let's just say excessive chemical exposure isn't doing anything good to them, either. This is especially true with earrings made of gemstones, pearls, or other metals.

By following these two simple rules, you are well on your way to adding years to your earrings.

When considering proper maintenance for earrings, there is one more quite important thing you shouldn't ignore. In fact, it's the most overlooked and, simultaneously, most critical factor in ensuring the longevity of earrings and all jewelry in general.

Storing and properly maintaining your earrings

Proper storage is an essential factor in maintaining the quality and longevity of your earrings.

It may seem like a small detail, but taking good care of your earrings can make a big difference in their appearance and condition over time. In fact, proper storage is arguably the most critical factor in earring maintenance.

Let's explore why.

First and foremost, correctly storing your earrings and jewelry prevents damage and loss. Earrings are delicate items that can easily get scratched, bent, or tangled.

By keeping your earrings in a designated place, such as a jewelry box or pouch, you can protect them from harm. Especially if you're a jewelry fanatic and own a lot of different designs, having a specific spot for your earrings can prevent you from misplacing them, reducing the risk of loss.

A good jewelry box that meets your needs and keeps your earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and other jewelry safe and organized is a must-have.

If you own a lot of jewelry and don't have one yet, take a look at these long-time favorites:

Proper storage also helps to maintain the integrity of your earrings. Many earrings are made with materials that can tarnish or discolor over time.

By storing them in a dry and clean environment, you can prevent exposure to moisture and other contaminants that may cause damage. This is especially important for sensitive materials like pearls or delicate gemstones.

Pro tip: if you don't have a jewelry box, keeping the earrings you aren't actively using separate and sealed in airtight bags is a great way to prevent oxidization and increase their lifespan.

Furthermore, storing your earrings appropriately can help you keep them organized and easily accessible. By arranging them neatly in a jewelry box, you can quickly find the pair you want to wear without having to rummage through a tangled mess.

Congratulations, you've made it to the end. By now, you should have developed a pretty good understanding of what it takes to clean, care for, and maintain your earrings. For those who prefer not to memorize the cleaning methods for each material at once—bookmark this article!

For now, thanks for reading.

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