Stainless steel is one of the most versatile metals we’ve discovered to date.
It’s affordable, yet durable and high-resistant, and its versatility makes it perfect for everything from cookware to bridges.
But how to clean stainless steel jewelry?
Stainless steel is also widely used in jewelry making for these same reasons. Unlike silver, once polished, stainless steel has a brighter, shinier appearance.
Stainless steel also offers the same luxurious appearance at a fraction of the cost.
These are perhaps the very reasons that sold you on stainless steel jewelry. And, though highly durable and resistant, stainless steel requires cleaning just the same.
Stainless steel tennis de luxe bracelet
What is Stainless Steel?
Steel is an alloy made of iron and carbon. This material corrodes because of the iron content.
When the iron combines with the oxygen in the air or water, it oxidizes to create iron oxide.
The result is a reddish-orangish flaky material we call rust.
To make steel stainless, alloys such as chromium, nickel, silicon, copper, sulfur molybdenum, titanium, niobium, manganese, etc are added.Chromium, in quantities between10 and 30%, is added to create chromium oxide, which becomes a protective barrier against the elements, making it stainless.
The result is stainless steel, which is corrosion-resistant, fire-resistant, eco-friendly and durable. Stainless steel is also relatively easy to make and clean, and it has a low lifecycle cost.
This material, depending on its grade, can be found in everyday items such as cutlery, washing machines, industrial piping, sinks, building structures, and of course, jewelry.
Cleaning Stainless Steel in 3 Steps
No matter which cleaning agent you use, or which method, cleaning stainless steel generally has three main steps, which are cleaning with chemical/cleaner, polishing and steaming/rinsing.
Jewelry cleaning in water with liquid soap
1. How to Clean Stainless Steel Jewelry Using Soap and Water
Using soap and water is the simplest way to clean your stainless steel jewelry at home. It’s also great for cleaning diamond earrings, gold-plated jewelry and most other pieces.
You will need:
- Warm water
- 2 bowls
- 2 non-abrasive, lint-free cloths
- Polishing cloth
Step 1: Combine two drops of your mild dish soap with warm water until sudsy. Fill the second bowl with plain warm water.
Step 2: If your stainless steel jewelry is visibly dirty, allow it to soak for 5-10 minutes. Otherwise, proceed to dip one of the lint-free cloths into the soapy water. Keep the other cloth dry.
Brushing jwelery with soft toothbrush
Step 3: Gently rub the wet cloth against the grain. Avoid using an abrasive cloth that may cause minor scratching. You can also use a soft tooth brush
Step 4: When finished, dip the stainless steel jewelry into the bowl with plain warm water to get rid of any loose particles and soap residue. (Alternative: Rinse under faucet)
Drying jewelry with micro fabric cloth
Step 5: Dry with the second lint-free cloth or allow it to air dry. Use your polishing cloth afterward for best results.
- Easy-to-follow steps
- May not clean extremely dirty pieces
2. How to Clean Stainless Steel Jewelry With Baking Soda
Baking soda is particularly great for cleaning stainless steel jewelry because it also doubles as a polisher.
You will need:
- 1 tbsp baking soda
- ½ tbsp water
- Soft-bristle toothbrush
Step 1: Combine baking soda with water in the bowl to create a thick paste.
Step 2: Dip the toothbrush into the mixture. Use it to gently scrub the surface of the jewelry, avoiding any gemstones as baking soda can scratch the surface of soft gemstones.
Step 3: After cleaning, rinse under running water, then pat dry. Polish as necessary.
- Acts as polisher
- Acts as deodorizer
- Gets rid of stubborn grime
- Can scratch gemstones
Baking soda may also be combined with vinegar to create a mild reaction. This should only be used for tough grime or grease.
3. How to Clean Stainless Steel Jewelry With Vinegar
As you can see, cleaning stainless steel jewelry is possible with everyday household items. Another example of this is vinegar. It creates a simple, yet effective cleaning solution:
You will need:
- 1 cup vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 2 soft, lint-free cloths
- Spray bottle (alternative)
Step 1: Combine vinegar with water in the bowl. Submerge stainless steel jewelry for 10-15 minutes.
Alternative: Combine vinegar and water in the spray bottle. Next, spray the mixture onto stainless steel jewelry separately.
Step 2: Dip one cloth into mixture and spot clean jewelry. Keep the other cloth dry.
Step 3: Rinse jewelry under running water, then dry with the second soft lint-free cloth. Finally, use a polishing cloth for best results.
- Strong vinegar smell
Cleaning jewelry with toothpaste
4. is Toothpaste the Best Cleaner for Stainless Steel Jewelry?
Next time you go to the bathroom, you might want to look at your toothpaste a bit differently. It may very well be the next thing you use to clean your stainless steel jewelry at home!
The best toothpaste is one that is free of whitening agents, tartar control agents, silica or any abrasive additives that will scratch the metal. Gel toothpaste will not work well because it lacks that mild abrasive agent that will polish the stainless steel.
The right toothpaste is gentle enough to get the stainless steel clean without damaging it. Toothpaste also has a mild abrasive agent to make the stainless steel shine.
You will need:
- Appropriate type of toothpaste
- Soft, lint-free cloth
- Warm water
Step 1: Apply the toothpaste using a damp cloth, avoiding gemstones. Do not use a toothbrush as you may end up scrubbing harder than you need to.
Step 2: Rub gently across the grain for a few seconds.
Step 3: Rinse with warm water and allow it to air dry.
- Readily available
- Acts as polishing agent
- May scratch or loosen gemstones
5. Why Not Use a Jewelry Cleaning Kit?
You don’t need a jewelry cleaning kit for stainless steel jewelry you don’t use often. However, for daily- wear pieces, you may find that a jewelry cleaning kit is best for shine and brilliance.
Many people prefer to use jewelry cleaning kits for regular home cleaning, and leave the DIY cleaners for emergencies; for instance, when they run out of cleaning solution.
Jewelry cleaning kit
The choice is all yours; however, be mindful of the type of jewelry cleaning kit you purchase. Ensure that it is suitable for the metal you need to clean, whether it’s gold jewelry or stainless steel, also considering the gemstones, particularly for those below 8 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.
Try this Connoisseurs Jewelry Cleaner for your stainless steel jewelry. It also works well for gold, diamonds, platinum and other precious metals, as well as stone jewelry.
6. Using Ultrasonic Cleaners for Stainless Steel Jewelry
Ultrasonic cleaners are another option for enhanced stainless steel jewelry cleanings at home, and they work well for the rest of your jewelry.
Magnasonic professional ultrasonic jewelry cleaner
These cleaners work by sending ultrasonic waves through the water to dislodge dirty particles and get into the nooks and crannies you can’t reach with a cloth. An ultrasonic cleaner can also clean multiple pieces of jewelry at once and are not only safe for delicate jewelry but also glasses, combs, watchbands, dentures, toothbrushes, razors, and so on.
It all works at the click of a button, without the need to manually rub, scrub or polish your jewelry. If you’re interested in adding one of these devices to complement your jewelry box, try this Magnasonic Professional Ultrasonic Jewelry to see how well it can work for you.
Cleaning jewelry with soft cloth
7. Too Busy? Take Your Jewelry to a Jewelers for Professional Cleaning
If you don’t have the time to clean your stainless steel jewelry yourself and/or have no interest in purchasing a cleaning kit or ultrasonic jewelry cleaner, your next option is to take it to a professional for an expert clean.
When you take your jewelry to a professional cleaner, it will be closely examined to determine the best method for restoring its brilliance. Some jewelers use professional versions of ultrasonic cleaners, and instead of rinsing, a blast of steam is used for stubborn pieces of grime and polishing.
Others use their own secret cleaners and methods to achieve the best results. Be sure to enquire about the best method for cleaning your specific piece of stainless steel jewelry after your clean.
- Better overall result
- Prevents unnecessary damage to metal or gemstones
- Can make minor repairs
- Can be expensive
Tiffany jewelry pouch
How to Maintain Your Stainless Steel Jewelry
We know that stainless steel does not erode or tarnish easily, but you still need to make an effort to keep it in the best state possible.
Here are some things you should know about maintaining stainless steel jewelry:
- Store your jewelry in a soft pouch or container.
- Avoid wearing stainless steel jewelry around bleach and harsh chemicals, as they can cause staining.
- Use a polishing cloth after every clean for best results.
- Do not store stainless steel jewelry with sharp or abrasive objects.
- Do not attempt to fix scratched jewelry yourself because you can make it worse. Take it to a professional.
Rinse your stainless steel jewelry in a bowl instead of over a sink to prevent loss.
FAQ: How to Clean Stainless Steel Jewelry at Home?
Q. How Do You Remove Tarnish from Stainless Steel Jewelry?
A. Remove tarnish from stainless steel using the:
- Warm water + soap method
- Baking soda + water method
- Vinegar + water method
- Vinegar + baking soda method
You may also purchase a jewelry cleaning kit or ultrasonic cleaner.
For tougher jobs, consult a professional.
Q. Does Vinegar Clean Stainless Steel Jewelry?
A. Vinegar is a great cleaner for stainless steel jewelry. Before cleaning, dilute the vinegar at a 1:1 ratio with water.
You may clean super dirty jewelry with a paste made from vinegar and baking soda.
Q. Can You Wash Stainless Steel Fashion Jewelry?
A. Washing is too aggressive for stainless steel jewelry. Instead, soak or gently spot clean with a soft, lint-free cloth (microfiber) or soft-bristled toothbrush.
For stubborn cleans, consult a professional.
Q. Can You Clean Stainless Steel With Toothpaste?
A. Yes. Ensure the toothpaste has no whitening agents, tartar preventing agents, silica or anything that can tarnish the stainless steel.
If you are unsure, avoid using toothpaste, as it should be considered a last resort.