The do's and don'ts for cleaning fashion jewelry (and getting rid of that funky metallic smell)
Let's face it, there's a lot of how to guides on the internet but how can you know if they work or they're legitimate? We created a simple do and don't guide to help you know which methods works best and what to avoid.
Fashion jewelry unlike gold or silver jewelry is often made with metals such as copper, brass, aluminum, nickel silver, and tin. These metals react with moisture, our skin, and perfumes which can result in funky smells, green jewelry, and/or tarnished or dull looking jewelry. No one wants that and why throw out the piece when you can clean it and see it live another day?
- If jewelry is starting to look dull then clean it by filling a bowl with cool water, dropping 3-4 drops of Woolite, dipping the piece in the bowl and then use a clean cloth to wipe the piece off. If there's nooks and cranny's on the piece you may need to use a soft toothbrush or toothpick to get to them.
- Costume jewelry can start to smell funny. Specifically, they start to have a funky metallic smell that no one wants. White vinegar is great to get rid of these smells by mixing vinegar and water and misting or dipping the jewelry and then patting dry. Still smells? Try leaving it in the mixture for a couple minutes.
- Is your jewelry piece starting to look tarnished and smell? That's okay because baking soda toothpaste is great to remedy this. Please don't use the gel toothpastes because they won't be effective and they'll leave your jewelry a gummy mess. Use a small amount of baking soda toothpaste and a soft bristled toothbrush to gently brush the piece. Rinse it in cool water afterwards and pat dry.
- Unlike fine jewelry, fashion jewelry tends to oxidize because of the metals used. Sometimes they may look dull or green as a result. To restore the metals squeeze a lemon into a bowl and add about 1 tablespoon of salt. Dip the jewelry in the mixture and then wipe gently. You should immediately see the difference.
- Many sites suggest soaking the jewelry overnight etc. Don't soak costume jewelry for prolonged periods of time because it can and will disturb the glue, which means you'll be looking at crystal- or rhinestone-less jewelry.
- Jewelry cleaner is easily available and oh so tempting because hey, it's easy. For costume jewelry though this cleaner can be too harsh on materials used in the jewelry causing the piece to be ruined.
- Rubbing alcohol and ammonia are great options for most fine jewelry. Unfortunately, for fashion jewelry both options can ruin the metal and embellishments used. That's why substitute these options with the white vinegar, especially if you're worried about disinfecting.
- If you decide to use the toothbrush option or even just a clean cloth, don't scrub the piece like you're trying to shine a boot. Extreme scrubbing can cause scratches and damage the jewelry. This seems like it should be a given but better to be said explicitly.
Overall, these are great options on what to do and not to do when trying to clean fashion or costume jewelry. To prevent having to use these cleaning methods, avoid getting your fashion jewelry wet, wipe pieces down with a cloth after you've worn them, store them in an airtight space, and avoid the jewelry coming in contact with perfumes or lotions when possible. Ultimately, the more you know about your jewelry piece, the better you can care for it. It's important to remember that quality pieces are both easier to clean and to care for. While more expensive than fashion jewelry, better quality pieces like demi-fine jewelry will last you longer, be made in a more ethical and sustainable way, and has a much longer life span.