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How to Properly Clean Stainless Steel Jewelry (5 Methods)

A wall of stainless steel jewelry

Don't leave your house looking like a slob with smudges on your stainless steel jewelry. Learn how to quickly and properly clean it here with these 5 tried and true methods.

Why buy stainless steel jewelry?

The simple reason for using stainless steel in jewelry is in its looks. The average person will come to ask about what you’re wearing. Even a trained eye needs to look closer. Only then will they determine what your well-crafted ring or bracelet is. Steel is finished with a smooth, glossy surface that we can all admire. It’s also set with light-brush strokes that give it a little texture. Black-stainless steel has become a popular style. It’s now easy to find.

It’s finished with a sleek, jet-black surface that layers even more protection unto the metal’s chemical seal. If you’ve been hiding a few pieces of stainless-steel jewelry, then you need to be inspired. You need to see why it’s worth putting those items on. Most of these jewels will only need to be cleaned. The pieces that are routinely worn only need to be lightly polished. If you’re looking for inspiration, here are a few reasons to get excited right now.

Let’s see why stainless steel is worth wearing every day.

The Best Defense Against Corrosion

The precious metals of the world are pretty but so is steel. It’s not only appealing to see, but it’s more durable than the “major metals of allure.” Gold gets nicked, scratched and bent when you least expect it to. Steel, however, doesn’t tarnish. Its surface won’t trigger your allergies if you happen to have any. The compounds of steel are dense and last longer than any of us will. All you’ll need, in most cases, is to keep it aerated and to wear it often.

A Better Price Tag

The price of gold closely follows a live market’s spot price. Gold’s price can change, and even if it falls to a reasonable level, it’ll still be expensive. No matter what the market conditions are, steel holds a steady-price tag. Anyone with an income can afford it. Its value will give you the opportunity to build a large collection at a fair price. Its quality will also be consistent. Unlike gold, which comes in different karats, stainless steel’s bond is universal.

Pure Alloys and a bit of Chromium

Steel uses a healthy combination of carbon and iron ore. These compounds give the metal its notable strength. Its mix of iron creates an allotropic-crystalline bond that’s difficult to break. A simple measure of chromium will then create an oxidized layer over the metal. This is what sustains its “stainless” touch. Think of that outer layer as a thin plate of reflecting chrome. You can call it bling—if you like.

Related: Haus Naturals’ Stainless Steel Cleaner Review | Natural Stainless Steel Cleaners | Stainless Steel Cleaning Solutions and Applications | How to Clean Stainless Steel Appliances Properly | How to Clean Stainless Steel SinkHow to Clean Stainless Steel CookwareHow to clean nasty stainless steel pans | 13 of the best eco-friendly stainless steel cleanersPros and Cons of Stainless Steel Kitchen Appliances

Is Stainless Steel Hard to Clean?

Maintenance is your first step in keeping these metals clean. You should know, while we’re at it, that stainless steel has the tendency to keep grit and dirt at bay. If a collection does need a rigorous polish, it’s only because it’s been neglected for a long period of time. Our first piece of advice is to keep up with the condition of your jewelry. Wear it every day. If you need a full, all-out shine, we have other options to consider.

The Basics

In the listed steps below, you’ll find a few common tools to rely on. They should be bought and then kept for your future use. Put these items aside as part of a kit just for your stainless-steel cleaning. You don’t want to, for example, rely on the cloth that you’re also washing the dishes with. Consider what you need to collect and keep it all in a place where you’re sure that it will stay dry in. Use the list below; find out what’s important for your jewelry. The following covers every condition that you’d likely face with stainless steel.

Brushes: Only soft brushes will work with the methods that we’re sharing. Steel will do much of the cleaning itself—as long as you’re actually working its surface. Toothbrushes, those with very light bristles, are used for the bulk of the advice that you’ll find below.

Water: At most, two bowls are required, and either room temperature or boiling hot water will be necessary. You’ll need a space, which is preferably in a sink, to run water in. Each of our processes requires you to rinse off your jewelry when you’re done cleaning it.

Dry Cloths: A cloth can be used to both polish and dry your pieces. Soft pieces of fabric are sufficient for the work ahead, but a polishing cloth is the best market choice. The steps in this list will work for the following examples of stainless-steel jewelry:

  • Bracelets
  • Rings
  • Earrings
  • Necklaces
  • Watches

1. The Simple Way: Soap and Water

Soap and water

 

Make this easy on yourself; let’s start with a few common items that are already in the house. Begin with soap and water. The idea is to soak your steel in soapy water or to use a cloth and manually scrub them. These steps work for very light accumulations of grit. Now start to boil some clean water. Dip your cloth or jewelry into a mixed solution of soap and hot water. Once you’re done soaking each piece, wipe them down and rinse them off.

Rinsing is done with running water. Now let your jewelry air dry in a safe, open space. Keep in mind that stainless steel is naturally resistant, so you won’t need much work for your newer pieces. Items that have been kept gritty for a long period of time need more work.

The Ingredients:

  • Dish Soap
  • Water
  • A Small Bowl
  • A Dry Cloth or Paper Towel

2. Baking-Soda Paste

Arm & Hammer Pure Baking Soda, 5 lb

The baking-soda paste is created by mixing water and baking soda together. You can also use a mix of vinegar to start a chemical reaction with. Vinegar and baking soda have a strong toxicity. When combined, they create an acidic reaction. Their bubbly formula is a result of carbon dioxide, which, when mixed with an acidic, can erode light compounds like dirt and grime. Baking soda is a sodium bicarbonate and vinegar is the acetic acid.

These two ingredients create a new compound when they’re combined. The carbonic acid, which is created by the mix, is considered a volatile fluid, but you get to decide on how potent your mixture is. Creating a paste requires that you use water without the vinegar. Light amounts of vinegar, however, allow you to control the levels of your chemical reaction. Simple water and baking soda creates a mix that will look similar to toothpaste.

The paste should be applied to a soft toothbrush, but dump your jewelry into a liquid formula if you’re using vinegar. Thoroughly rinse each piece off—after you’ve scrubbed them with a brush. See that there are no particles left on your rings, watches or bracelets. Now dry them off with a lint-free cloth. Set them in a safe place and allow them to air dry.

The Ingredients:

  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • A Soft Toothbrush
  • A Dry Cloth or Paper Towel
  • Running Water

3. Ionized Baking Soda

Ionization takes the common properties of baking soda and “electrifies” them. The reaction occurs when ions—the positively charged particles of an atom—are transferred from molecule to molecule. Instead of using the acidic reaction of vinegar, a mixture of dish soap, salt and baking soda lay the foundation for this chemical reaction. The method is, in a nutshell, a safe, subatomic reaction that’s done at home.

Bring the kids along to help. A sheet of aluminum foil must be used, for it will help the chemicals to charge the metal within your jewelry. The foil acts as a natural ground so that ionic compounds remain within an uninterrupted flow. Start with a bowl and place a strip of aluminum foil in to cover the entire bottom and sides of it. Add in a teaspoon of salt. Put in a tablespoon of baking soda with a tablespoon of dish detergent.

A full cup of hot water must then be placed on top of these ingredients. Everything should sit on top of the sheet of aluminum foil. You can increase the measure by doubling or tripling the amounts as needed. What happens is less volatile than vinegar is, but the ion exchange will go to work. You just won’t be able to see it, and there’s no charge to get a shock from. The ion exchange, however, is strong enough to polish your metals.

Now place your jewelry inside of the mixture and let them rest for 10 minutes. A toothbrush can be used to scrub away accesses that are found after soaking. Let these pieces dry once they’re rinsed off with running water.

The Ingredients:

  • Salt
  • Hot and Running Water
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Dish Soap
  • A Large Bowl
  • Baking Soda

4. Toothpaste

Here’s a simpler way to get a sheen back from your stainless-steel surfaces. Go find some common toothpaste. Don’t consider buying a new tube if you already have one in the bathroom. Do, however, use a different toothbrush. If you prefer to apply the paste with a dampened cloth, then it will be just as effective. Two bowls of warm water will be needed; one is for washing your jewelry in and the other is for letting them soak in.

As long as you’re not using a gel base, the toothpaste can be added to the cloth or brush. Gently clean, for just as it does with teeth, toothpaste uses a chemical reaction to lift up superficial layers of dirt. Rinse with warm water as it will dissolve the toothpaste off of your steel surfaces. Now dry with a lint-free cloth and set your jewelry somewhere to air dry.

The Ingredients:

  • Toothpaste
  • A Toothbrush
  • A Dry Cloth
  • Bowls of Warm or Hot Water

5. The Ultrasonic-Jewelry Cleaner

Magnasonic Professional Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner with Digital Timer for Eyeglasses, Rings, Coins (MGUC500)
Click image to learn more about this very popular and handy product

The ultrasonic-jewelry cleaner is effective on all types of metals be they precious or steel. Many people see this device as a professional standard. Considering the level of cleaning that it does, it works in the simplest but most effective way. What the ultrasonic module releases is a sound wave. Its pulse is radiated into a consistent source of friction around your jewelry. Your items, however, must sit in a liquid solution.

You can buy liquid formulas or make your mixture out of soap and water. Every piece of jewelry must be fully submerged within the fluid. Since some crevices of your stainless-steel jewelry just can’t be accessed with a cloth or brush, complete submergence is the best answer. You must also space your jewelry apart, for the vibrations of the machine, as it uses a set-and-forget cycle, can move items around. Hot water is the best option.

Some devices will accept hot water while keeping the temperature up. Both frequencies and temps are adjustable through controls settings. The settings options are based on the model you buy. Be sure to let all of your jewelry sit in the solution once a cleaning cycle has passed. Like many of the prior steps that we’ve listed above, be sure to rinse your jewelry off when taking them out. Then let them sit somewhere to dry.

The Ingredients

  • A Cleaning Solution
  • An Ultrasonic Module
  • A Drying Cloth
  • Running Water

A Polishing Cloth and Your General Maintenance

Pro Size Polishing Cleaning Cloth Pure Cotton Made in USA for Gold, Silver, and Platinum Jewelry, Watch Coins Non Toxic Tarnish Remover Large Cleaner Cloth 11 x 14 inches Keeps Jewelry Clean and Shiny

Using the steps above to clean your jewelry with is a good idea, but the best plan you have is maintenance. Some of you will be restoring older pieces like a few things that you’ve inherited or collected. Follow the steps above. Polishing cloths, however, are for general upkeep. Using them on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly schedule will keep your stainless steel shining. A polishing cloth is similar to what you polish glass or a computer screen with.

The cloth is a dry “squeegee” that absorbs oils from the surface of steel. Over time, the cloth will collect dirt and grime. It’s the easiest way to keep your collection in top condition. The cloth can be washed when needed and machine dried to renew its cleaning surface. Part of your work, in moving ahead, is preventative care. There are common issues that you will encounter when maintaining your stainless steel. Let’s have a closer look at a few:

A Few Things to Know

Keep Bleach and Chlorine Away

Bleach and any form of chlorine will stain your steel’s surface. You want to keep these compounds away from your jewelry. Bleach, though useful in many ways around the house, acts as a corrosive when it comes to steel. Its chemical process will eventually eat away at steel, but initially, it will leave a stain on your metal’s surface.

Avoid Silver or Brass Polish

Steel and silver have properties that visually look the same, but they’re not. You cannot substitute a polishing formula that was made for silver by using it on steel. These silver polishes will stain your metal for good.

Use Steel to Clean Steel

Stainless steel is a durable metal; it has the ability to cut and grind other types of steel. This is why you don’t want to use your stainless steel cleaning pads on jewelry. They will grind pieces away and leave your metal’s surface susceptible to tarnishing. It’s stainless steel’s thin layer of chromium that protects it, and being less durable than steel, other steel products can eat away at it.

General Care: Put Your Stainless Away

Jewelry comes with a responsibility, for you must be willing to take care of it, so consider buying a jewelry case. Use a polishing cloth to lay your items on. Just don’t leave your pieces out or left in the hands of chance within the surrounding elements. Most cleaning needs are eliminated by simply protecting your jewelry and keeping them away. Today’s market grows more ambitious for this metal, so put value in how you care for yours.

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