How to Clean Rusty Jewelry?

It always brings joy to purchase or receive a beautiful piece of jewelry. However, with prolonged use, you might observe traces of rust, especially on silver jewelry, which can be disheartening. In many cases, people tend to consider rust as a sign to discard their jewelry, preventing them from wearing it as freely as before. But don’t worry, we are here to assist you in understanding the reasons behind your jewelry rusting and provide methods to restore them.

With only a few materials and simple steps, you can quickly bring your jewelry back to its original gloss.

First, we need to know:

Which Metals Are More Prone to Rust?

Metals like iron and steel are susceptible to rust when exposed to water and oxygen. This means that jewelry made from these metals or alloys containing them is more prone to rusting. In contrast, metals like stainless steel, aluminum metal, copperbronze, or brass are corrosion resistant or don’t rust.

What are the Reasons That Caused Your Jewelry to Get Rusty?

Apart from its metal composition, here are some common factors:

  • Environment: If your jewelry is exposed to water for a long time, such as in the bathroom, sauna room, or swimming pool, or if you store them in a damp place, the jewelry will rust more quickly.
  • Chemicals: Frequent contact with substances such as lotions, perfumes, household cleaners, or even the natural oils on your skin can lead to rust on your jewelry. Therefore, remember to put on your jewelry as the last step before going out.
  • Sweat: The salts and acids in human sweat can react with specific metals, leading to tarnishing.
  • Plating Quality: If you buy a low-quality gold or silver plating jewelry, it might wear off faster, revealing the underlying base metal and making it more prone to corrosion.

How to Clean Rusty Jewelry?


-Mild dish soap, or lemon juice, baking soda and toothpaste, white vinegar

-Warm water

-Soft toothbrush or a soft cloth

2. Get a bowl and fill it with warm water. Put a little bit of gentle dish soap in there to make it soapy.

3. Put the rusty jewelry into the bowl and soak it for 15 to 20 minutes to help loosen the rust.

4. Use a soft toothbrush or cloth to gently scrub your jewelry. Observe the rust’s color – if it’s a reddish-brown or orange shade, it could mean ongoing corrosion. On the other hand, if the rust has taken on a black hue, it might be an older and more resistant rust. 

5. Rinse the jewelry under running water to remove soap residue.

6. Wipe the jewelry with a soft, clean cloth and store it in a dry place.

Other Effective Methods:

  • Baking Soda: Use baking soda and water to create a paste. Put the paste on the rusty areas and softly scrub them by a soft toothbrush. Rinse the jewelry with warm water and dry it by gently patting with a soft cloth.
  • Lemon Juice & White Vinegar: Place your jewelry in a mixture of white vinegar (or lemon juice) and water, using equal parts. Allow it to soak for about 15-30 minutes before giving it a gentle brush and rinsing it off. (Vinegar has acetic acid that can break down rust and take it off your jewelry.)

Pros: a cost-effctive method.

Cons: White vinegar has strong odor and not everyone may like it. Also, vinegar might not work well with all kinds of jewelry materials.

Special Attention:

Silver jewelry are somewhat sensitive to water and can easily undergo oxidation when in contact with it. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid water exposure in daily life. When bathing or washing your face, promptly remove and store it properly. If it accidentally gets wet, use a dry cloth to wipe it clean. If not worn for a while, take it off and store it in an airtight place to prevent oxidation. If it turns black, clean the surface and use toothpaste and soft brush for washing. Many stores now offer free cleaning services, so you can take your jewelry to the store for cleaning at regular intervals to restore its luster.

If it’s a crystal necklace, you can immerse the crystal part in the mixture of coarse salt and warm water for a few hours, then gently wipe it after taking it out.

You can keep your jewelry safe by brushing a thin layer of nail polish on it. This makes a protective layer, so air doesn’t make it tarnish.

What Types of Jewelry Should Not be Cleaned With Vinegar to Remove Rust?

It’s usually okay to use vinegar on jewelry made of metals like silver, gold, and stainless steel. Remember, don’t use vinegar on stones such as pearls, opals, and turquoise, because it could damage their surface.

Cleaning is crucial. Even though you can rescue rusty jewelry with the methods we mentioned above, it’s important to store them correctly after cleaning. For details on how to store your jewelry properly, check out the article titled “How to Store Your Jewelry Properly” on Meideya’s website. You can keep your jewelry safe by brushing a thin layer of nail polish on it. This makes a protective layer, so air doesn’t make it tarnish.

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