How to Clean Fake Jewelry

Four Parts:First StepsHome RemediesStronger ProductsMaintenance

Costume jewelry can be really pretty even if it is not made of precious gems. But keeping it beautiful can be a task. Costume jewelry can’t take wear-and-tear the way fine jewelry can. It tarnishes from water, air exposure and even creams and lotions. So, learning how to care for your items so that they remain beautiful for as long as possible is key, especially if you want to wear them for years to come.

Part 1
First Steps

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    Collect the jewelry that needs to be cleaned. There’s no hard and fast rule as to when it should be cleaned. Generally, the rule of thumb is the more you wear it, the more frequently you need to clean it. Clean it about once every few months or when it starts to look dull.
    • Remember that fake jewelry is not genuine gold or sterling silver and does not have precious gemstones. Even though sterling silver does tarnish, it should not be cleaned the way you would clean fake jewelry or costume jewelry. "Real" gold does not tarnish at all.
    • If you are having trouble deciding what is classified as fake jewelry and what is real, keep in mind that plated jewelry is considered "authentic." Since the top layer of metal is authentic silver or gold, it is considered "real" jewelry, even though it is not solid gold or silver all the way through. So, you can use regular jewelry cleaner to clean gold- and silver-plated jewelry instead of the methods provided.[1]
    • If you’re not sure if a piece of jewelry is real or fake, have a jeweler test the metal and the gems for authenticity.[2]
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    Inspect the jewelry. Notice if it has any gemstones on it. If it does, then you need to be careful how much liquid you apply around that area.
    • The liquid might get underneath the gemstones and loosen the glue under the gemstones, which might make them fall off later. Also, too much water could ruin the foil backing that makes fake gemstones appear sparkly.
    • Don’t let any water pool and slide under them so the glue holding them down doesn’t loosen.[3]
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    Try using a Q-tip or toothbrush to clean the jewelry. These common products most people have in their homes work well to get at tough-to-clean crevices or around gemstones. You could also try a magic eraser.
    • Your Q-Tip should start to show signs of dirt and grime removal. The end of it should start to get dirty.
    • Make sure the toothbrush is new, and that it hasn't been used before. You don't want to transfer material on an old toothbrush onto the jewelry. Obviously, don't use the toothbrush again after you use it to clean jewelry.[4]
    • Rub the dry soft toothbrush or Q-Tip on the jewelry to remove verdigris. Verdigris is the green gunk that builds up on some costume jewelry. Q-Tips and soft toothbrushes are a bit more abrasive when they’re dry, so they may do a better job of scraping off the gunk. If you still can’t get it off, try using a toothpick.[5]

Part 2
Home Remedies

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    Try using lemon on the fake jewelry. Lemon has been used for a long time to rid jewelry of the oxide layer that forms on metals with the passage of time. You might want to add a little baking soda to the lemon.[6]
    • Lemon is a natural acid and rubbing a half cut lemon on jewelry can hasten the process of cleaning. You can put the silver jewelry in a cup with lemonade with some salt for a night. Lemon works especially well on silver.[7]
    • You could juice a lemon in a small plate, and then rub this juice over the jewelry that you intend to clean, and then use a rough cloth (or scotch bright) to rub vigorously against the jewelry.
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    Try using a white vinegar and water solution. Soak the jewelry in the solution, and then use soft toothbrush to get into corners and holes.[8]
    • Cleaning fake jewelry in vinegar can leave the chains shiny. The soft bristle tooth brush can help if the jewelry contains gems by getting in cracks. You can simply apply the vinegar to a sponge, and use it to clean the jewelry.
    • Another natural product that can be used to clean jewelry is olive oil. Olive oil will make it shine, but make sure to wash it off. You could also use a dental tablet and dissolve it in water. Then, let the jewelry soak for a bit and scrub gently with a toothbrush
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    Try using hand soap and warm water. This not only increases the chances of making the jewelry look pretty, but it also makes it smell good. Put as little water on the jewelry as possible, though, and limit your jewelry's exposure to the water. Water can tarnish and rust costume jewelry if it sits for too long.
    • Use a wash cloth to gently clean the jewelry. It’s usually not a good idea to let fake jewelry soak in water for a long time as it can ruin the look or finish of the jewelry. This approach can work well on gold jewelry with gem stones.
    • Or, pour hot water into bowl. Place salt, soda, and dish-washing liquid into bowl. Place the jewelry on top of foil, and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Rinse the jewelry in cool water, and dry the jewelry completely with soft cloth.
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    Use baby shampoo to clean the jewelry. Baby shampoo is a milder shampoo, so it can be a good cleaning agent for fake jewelry. Shampoo can be a good approach to cleaning pearls, especially.[9]
    • Mix together one drop each of baby shampoo and water. Use a soft toothbrush or Q-Tip to clean hard-to-reach spots. Mix it until it is about the consistency of a thick soup. If the mixture is too thick, add a few additional drops of water.[10]
    • Rinse the baby shampoo off quickly in cool water, and dry with a clean, soft hand towel or microfiber cloth.
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    Use lens cleaner or toothpaste. There are many different cleaning products around the house that people often use to clean fake jewelry. Lens cleaner and toothpaste can be effective on some costume jewelry.
    • But be very careful! Read the instructions and cautions labels. Don't use lens cleaner on precious metals, and be aware that paint or finish may come off. Also don't use if you have sensitive skin or on earrings.
    • Toothpaste is less problematic when it comes to cleaning jewelry. Just apply the toothpaste to a brush, and rub it on the piece of jewelry. This method can be used on different forms of fake jewelry, such as bracelets.

Part 3
Stronger Products

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    Purchase jewelry polish specifically made for jewelry. Fake or impure metals will deteriorate quickly if not using the correct polish.
    • You can buy polish for either gold or silver items in many jewelry or department stores. Keep in mind that some regular jewelry cleaners, usually meant for the real deal, are too harsh to use on costume pieces.
    • Simply soak the piece of jewelry in the polish for no longer than 30 seconds, then remove and wipe it gently to avoid scraping or bruising the jewelry. You might want to use a toothbrush after dipping it into the solution.
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    Buy a bottle of rubbing alcohol from a drugstore or retail department. Then take a small bowl, and pour the alcohol into it. Soak the jewelry in it for half an hour.
    • Then take the jewelry out, and wipe off any excess alcohol on it. Leave it out to dry for 15 minutes.
    • If every part isn’t clean, wipe it with an alcohol wipe or repeat the process. You could put your earrings in peroxide, and let them soak at least 2 to 3 minutes. The peroxide might bubble or fizz, which means your earrings are really dirty, and you should probably leave them in longer.
    • If it looks like you are rubbing off more of the finish than the gunk, then stop. You may be scrubbing too hard. Rub gently so you don’t mess up the finish.
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    Rinse thoroughly. After applying the mixture and cleaning everything off, immediately rinse the piece off in cool water. Rinse just enough to get the soapy water solution off of the jewelry.
    • Dry it with a blow dryer. Immediately after you rinse off your jewelry, place it on a towel to soak up any excess water. Blot away excess water with the towel. Then, set your blow dryer to a cool setting, and use your blow dryer to quickly dry the jewelry.
    • Move your blow dryer around the piece to distribute the air. Drying it quickly makes it less likely to rust and develop water spots. Continue drying the jewelry with the blow dryer until it is completely dry.[11]
    • Try not to hold the blow dryer directly above areas with gemstones for long periods of time especially if you decide to use a warmer setting. You don’t want the heat from blow dryer to melt the glue holding them down.

Part 4

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    Spray perfume, hair spray, and rub on lotion before putting on your jewelry. Since anything water-based can potentially tarnish your costume jewelry, even perfume and lotions can tarnish the finish.[12]
    • If you spray your perfume and put on your lotions first, you will reduce the chances they will coat the jewelry. Wait until your body is dry. Then, put on your costume jewelry.
    • This should prevent some of the build-up on fake jewelry that makes it look dull and requires that you do frequent cleaning.
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    Wipe down your jewelry daily. If you wipe your jewelry down with a clean microfiber cloth after each use, you won’t have to clean it as often.
    • It also will continue to look like new for longer periods of time.
    • Wiping it down daily also limits your jewelry exposure to water or anything that it might have been exposed to when you were wearing it that day.
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    Store your jewelry properly. You might try storing the jewelry in ziplock bags. Designate one piece per bag. Put the jewelry in. Squeeze all the air out of the bag. Then close it.
    • With the air removed, the metal cannot oxidize or turn green from exposure to the air.[13] So, it will look cleaner and newer for a longer period of time.
    • Keeping your jewelry in a jewelry box that has a closing lid and a velvet lining limits your jewelry’s expose to air as well and also keeps it from being scratched. [14]


  • Put clear nail polish on the outside of fake jewelry to protect the finish from turning green.
  • Take off your jewelry near water. Don’t do dishes, take showers or wash the car when you’re wearing your fake jewelry. Remove the jewelry altogether.


  • Don't let the jewelry sit in a pool of water for a long period of time or it might tarnish.
  • Dry the jewelry immediately or it might develop water spots or rust.
  • Use a soft bristle toothbrush to prevent damage to your jewelry.

Article Info

Categories: Jewelry and Watches