Cleaning and Caring for Your Jewelry and Beaded Items

I wanted to take time to share some information regarding cleaning and caring for your jewelry and beaded items in general. I’ll just use the term jewelry here, but it would apply to other beaded items such as bookmarks, rosaries, ornaments and wine glass charms.

I recommend storing your jewelry in an enclosed case or bag. Zipper type bags work great to keep things separated and untangled, and help to avoid tarnish. It makes it easy to travel with various pieces when they’re in their own bags. But you can also store them in fabric bags, jewelry boxes or other jewelry displays. Anti-tarnish strips can be found in many stores and online, and help when placed in a plastic bag with your pieces.  Don’t store pearls or opals in plastic bags however, as they could be affected by humidity changes and condensation. Ideally, you should wipe off your pieces after you wear them, let them dry completely, and then store them appropriately.

Polishing cloths are a great way to clean your jewelry and to remove tarnish. These cloths can be found at a variety of stores, including Target, Michael’s, Joann, drug stores, etc. Watch the package directions regarding the different types of cloths. Some contain polishing agents which can scratch certain materials and are not meant to be washed and reused, while some are just a soft cotton with low lint and can be washed and reused many times. The ones with polishing agents work really well to remove tarnish and last a long time, but once they’re dirty, you throw them out and get a new one. They are a great and quick way to clean your jewelry on your way out the door because, admit it, you don’t really take time to properly clean your jewelry very often, do you?

For cleaning purposes, there are several options. You can get the pink liquid jewelry cleaner which is safe for most pieces (again, at the stores I mentioned above or similar type stores, drug stores, etc.). Drop them in the cleaner, let them soak according to the directions, brush them off with the enclosed brush, rinse and let them dry completely. Also available is liquid tarnish remover. Be sure to read package directions as it is not recommended for use on several types of material including pearls, stainless steel, opals or pewter. Always do a test to see if the items you have will hold up to the tarnish remover. There are organic or low-chemical options available as well. I’ve heard people admit to using regular toothpaste and a soft toothbrush, but be sure to test this out first as it could potentially scratch or leave unwanted residue, particularly on pearls and softer metals.

Polishing cloth (yellow), tarnish remover (pink) and reusable cleaning cloth (tan)

Some people tend to have items tarnish more easily than others (and I am one of them!). This could be due to the difference in the oils and residue on our skin, and the products we use such as hair spray, lotions, sunscreen and other environmental factors. You should put your jewelry on after using those products and wait until they’ve had time to dissipate or soak in first.

Use care with items made with flexible wire – they can kink easily. They are best kept flat or loosely rolled. Usually I take a flexible wire necklace around the fingers of both hands, turn one hand over so that I’ve created a figure 8 with the wire, and then fold it in half and place in a bag for storage (please feel free to ask me for better instructions if that doesn’t make sense!).

What other questions do you have about cleaning and storing your jewelry? Please leave a comment here and I’ll do my best to answer your questions. If you are having problems finding any of the products above, or would like me to order any of them for you with my next bead order, let me know!

By no means do I proclaim to be an expert on this subject. The information I’m providing is simply a way to help point you in the right direction and to give you some food for thought. Be sure to test your own items before committing to a method and know that one method is not necessarily going to work for all applications. You can also do a search online to find some great reference articles from the experts (Fire Mountain Gems is one of my favorites for this type of information!).

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