Washing Jewellery at Home

Read the guides for particular types of jewellery before washing.

Cleaning jewellery is really washing it. It should be the first step you take and you should always wash jewellery before polishing it. You wouldn’t polish your car before you had washed it, so why wouldn’t you do the same for your jewellery?

Why wash before polishing?

Washing will remove built up oils and grime. It will also remove any grit or abrasive residues left by cosmetics. Having a clean clear surface before polishing, will make polishing much easier and lead to a better finish.

How do you wash jewellery?

Again first check our guides before commencing. Paying special attention to types of jewellery containing pearls, opals, foil back stones, wood, leather, costume jewellery, enamel, emeralds and Venetian glass(etc.). If in doubt consult a professional jeweller.

This washing outline covers; sterling silver, gold, platinum and stainless steel. Either without gem stones or with hard gem stones such as: diamonds, sapphires and rubies.

LilyJewels JewelleryCleaning recommends you wash jewellery in a mild non-ammonia cleaner, like LilyJewels SparkleClean. Either in an ultrasonic cleaner or by hand washing with a brush.


If the jewellery you are planning to wash has a heavy build of soap residues, cosmetics or body oils, you may have to soak it before washing. Soaking is as simple as putting the jewellery into a Pyrex bowl , stainless steel or plastic dish (never use aluminum), covering it with warm water (de-mineralized is best) and adding a small amount of LilyJewels SparkleClean and leaving it for two to three hours. This will soften built up cosmetics and grease, making it easier to wash.

Hand washing

Most jewellery can be easily hand washed using LilyJewels SparkleClean, a bowl and a small soft brush (a tooth brush will do).

If you have soaked the jewellery you can simply use the solution you already have in the bowl. If not then mix a batch as described above. Warm water is best.

At the kitchen sink. Put the plug in and the bowl of cleaning solution in the sink.

Dip the brush into the solution and begin brushing the jewellery. You will need to to be thorough about this and attempt to get into all the nooks and crannies. A sharp tooth pick is a handy tool for getting in to settings, small recesses and between links.

When you are satisfied you have cleaned the piece thoroughly, remove the bowl of solution from the sink. Leave the plug in(!!) and rinse the piece of jewellery under running warm water. When rinsed place on a clean dry cloth or tissues.

Before letting the water out of the sink check all stones are still in the piece if it contains gems. Check there is nothing in the sink belonging to the piece of jewellery. If there is nothing drain the sink.

Cleaning in an Ultrasonic

  • Follow the instructions that came with your machine.
  • Always use a new solution each time you clean.
  • Never leave the solution in the machine between cleans.
  • Always ensure there are no residues left in the machine after use and before using again.
A commercial Ultrasonic Cleaning machine.
A commercial Ultrasonic Cleaning machine. Rio Grande

Ultrasonic cleaning solutions need to be de-gassed before jewellery is placed into the solution. This simply means running the machine with fresh cleaning solution in it for two minutes. This removes free gas and improves the machines effectiveness.

If your machine has a heater, turn it on and allow the solution to heat before placing the jewellery in. If your machine doesn’t have a heater, use warm water to make your solution.

If you have soaked your jewellery before using the ultrasonic, I do not advise using that solution in the machine. Dispose of it, first checking nothing belonging to the jewellery is in it. Make a fresh solution to put in the machine. Why do I advise this? The machine uses high frequency sound waves to agitate the solution, if there are particles in the solution they will slam into the jewellery and often leave serious pit marks on the surface. These can be difficult or impossible for you to remove at home.

If your machine has a timer set it for the manufacture’s advised time. I advise not leaving jewellery in the machine for more than fifteen minutes at a time. That is, after fifteen minutes turn the machine off, take the jewellery out and carefully inspect it.

  • Is it clean?
  • Have any stones fallen out?
  • Is the surface beginning to pit?

If its not clean and no damage has been done to it return the jewellery to the machine for ever decreasing periods of time, ten minutes, then five minutes.

If there is stubborn grease build up which has not been removed in twenty minutes, hand wash it with a brush before returning the jewellery into the machine.

Rinse the cleaned jewellery under running warm water with the sink plug in.

Dry the jewellery thoroughly.

Ultrasonic cleaning machines can damage jewellery, particularly gem stones, use them with caution.

  • Always place jewellery separately in the machine, using the basket which it came with.
  • Never place jewellery straight into the machine’s bowl.
  • Never place multiple pieces of jewellery touching in the machine.
  • Never leave jewellery in the machine unattented.
  • Never leave jewellery in the machine for extended periods of time.
  • Always empty and dry the machine after use.
  • Always follow the manufacture’s instructions.

Click here for the next step, Polishing.