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How to Clean Jewelry Without Toxic Chemicals

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Jewelry gets dirty. There’s no getting around it. If you wear your jewelry, then it’s going to become tarnished and less-than-shiny over time. Want to make your necklaces, rings and earrings sparkle like new? You don’t need regular jewelry cleaners and polishes to do it.

It’s hard to know exactly what ingredients make up most conventional jewelry cleaners. However, just a whiff of a regular jewelry cleaner will tell you that there’s nothing natural about it. You can be pretty sure that foul odor is caused by a toxic combination of chemicals—most of which you likely don’t want touching your skin. Many jewelry cleaners even warn you to wear gloves when using their products.

Take a look at the Environmental Working Group’s database of cleaners and you’ll find only two jewelry cleaners listed. Why? Probably because many companies don’t want to disclose the ingredients that make up their products. In fact, the two jewelry cleaners listed in the EWG’s cleaner database both received an “F” rating because they didn’t disclose their ingredients. Only one ingredient is listed under one of the products—tetrachloroethylene—and it has high concern for causing cancer. The EWG also lists tetrachloroethylene as a moderate concern for endocrine disruption and central nervous system impairment. Not to mention it’s toxic to the environment, specifically for aquatic life. Just imagine what else is in those jars.

A lot of information out there encourages you to use chemicals to clean your jewelry at home: Ammonia to make diamonds sparkle. Window cleaner to remove tarnish from gold and silver jewelry. Yuck! The chemicals in store-bought jewelry cleaners are bad enough. Don’t use nasty chemicals in your own homemade cleaners, too. Instead, try these natural (and safe!) options to get your jewelry lookin’ good.

All-purpose jewelry cleaner

Use this mild cleaner to scrub dirt and grime away from all of your baubles.

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From the Organic Authority Files

Dish soap

Good ol’ soap and water can safely clean most types of jewelry. Choose a natural brand of dish soap to use for the least chemical exposure. Simply clean your jewels with soapy warm water and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Use a soft cloth to clean gemstones.

Heavy-duty jewelry cleaner

For more heavily tarnished jewelry, use this more intensive jewelry cleaner. It works especially well on silver jewelry.

Aluminum foil
Baking soda
Hot water

Line a small bowl with aluminum foil and fill the bowl with hot water. Add your silver or gold jewelry and 1-3 tablespoons of baking soda, depending on the size of your bowl. Make sure the jewelry is touching the aluminum foil. Let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes. The tarnish on the jewelry should leave the silver and attach to the aluminum foil. Crazy, huh? Repeat the process if your jewelry isn’t as shiny as you would like.

You can also try soaking your jewels in club soda overnight to get rid of tarnish.

Follow Kirsten on Twitter @kirsten_hudson, Google+ and Pinterest.

image: GlitzUK

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