You may have read online or heard from a friend that toothpaste is a secret weapon against dulling gold and tarnished silver jewelry. But is there any truth to these claims? Can you safely clean silver and gold with toothpaste?
You shouldn’t clean silver and gold with toothpaste because it contains abrasive ingredients that can be harmful to your jewelry. While it might make your jewelry look brighter immediately after use, it can seriously damage it, especially if it includes stones or diamonds.
In this article, I’ll explore what you need to know about cleaning silver and gold and why using toothpaste is unsafe. I’ll also explore safer and more effective cleaning tips so you can make your jewelry sparkle.
Can You Clean Silver and Gold With Toothpaste?
You can clean your silver or gold jewelry, but you should avoid using toothpaste because it’s pretty abrasive. Some kinds of toothpaste contain a Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA) score between 70 and 150, which means that it has medium to high abrasiveness.
These scores mean toothpaste is the equivalent of 600-grit sandpaper. Sandpaper that abrasive is strong enough to strip wood, as Vice reports. Toothpaste also contains ingredients that can be damaging to jewelry in different ways.
- Baking soda is gritty and can damage metal by causing scratches in it.
- Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical lightener that reacts with metals and semi-precious stones. When used on silver, it reacts with the silver and can tarnish it.
- Fluoride can damage precious metals and is found in many toothpaste brands.
What Is the Best Way To Clean Silver and Gold?
The best way to clean silver and gold varies. For example, you should clean silver with a jewelry-cleaning cloth and rinse it in warm water before drying it. You can also use a liquid silver cleaner. As for gold, you can clean it with soapy water.
When cleaning gold jewelry, use gentle dish soap and water. Here are the steps to follow.
1. Mix the water with dish soap.
2. Take a soft bristle toothbrush and dip it into the solution.
3. Gently move the toothbrush over the gold.
4. Dry the gold with a soft cloth.
5. If your gold jewelry is dirty, let it soak in the solution to lift the dirt. To dry it, pat it gently and place it on a soft cloth so it can air dry.
Don’t assume you can clean your platinum the same way you clean silver. As Today reports, you should instead send platinum to a jeweler for a professional polish because it’s delicate and can be damaged easily.
How To Safely Clean a Silver Necklace
If you own a tarnished silver necklace, you can clean it safely and effectively with soapy water.
1. Prepare your cleaning solution. (Use a medium-sized bowl of warm water, and remember to add a small amount of detergent.)
2. Place your silver necklace into the cleaning solution.
3. Let it soak for a few minutes.
4. With a brush, gently clean any particularly dirty areas of the necklace. Make sure it’s a soft-bristled brush, like an old toothbrush, and not a hard brush that can scratch the silver.
5. Rinse the necklace with water.
6. Dry it well with a microfiber cloth.
7. Store your necklace in a microfiber pouch so it won’t get tarnished or scratched by other items in your jewelry drawer.
Pro Tip: If your silver necklace is tangled, untangle it with a drop of baby oil. You should do this before you pack it away. (Baby oil has many great uses, such as encouraging hair growth. Read our guide, “Does Baby Oil Make Your Hair Grow Faster?” to learn more.)
Does Baking Soda Damage Gold?
Baking soda can easily damage gold, so you shouldn’t use it to clean your gold items or jewelry. Although gold might seem strong, it’s a very malleable metal. The purer the gold, the softer it will be, so you have to be careful when you clean it.
Although you might see online that baking soda is listed as a safe ingredient to clean your jewelry, including gold pieces, you should never use it as it’s too abrasive and will scratch your beautiful items.
Is Ultrasonic Cleaning Safe for Gold and Silver?
Ultrasonic cleaning is generally safe for your gold and silver jewelry. Still, you shouldn’t clean items containing gemstones as the machine can damage them, especially if the stones have cracks filled with a substance such as oil or resin.
Here are some other circumstances in which you shouldn’t put gold or silver in an ultrasonic cleaning machine:
- The jewelry contains organic gems. Since these are porous, the cleaning solution and heat can damage them.
- The jewelry contains gems that are heat-sensitive. Even if untreated, some gems can be more sensitive to high heat than others, including lapis, turquoise, and opal.
- The silver jewelry is tarnished. Ultrasonic cleaners remove debris and oil from jewelry, but they’re not powerful enough to remove tarnish, which has to be polished.
You also must be careful with how you use the ultrasonic cleaning machine, as doing so incorrectly could damage your jewelry. For example, the machine uses water and a cleaning solution in which you’ll put your jewelry to clean it, but you must never make the water too hot as this can damage your jewelry. Very hot water causes the metal to expand, which can loosen diamonds or stones in their settings.
Cleaning your silver and gold jewelry with toothpaste isn’t a good idea unless you’re cleaning costume jewelry that you don’t mind damaging. For fine jewelry, there are more effective methods to clean it. These include using mild soapy water to clean your gold and silver and avoiding abrasive materials like baking soda.
You can also use an ultrasonic cleaning machine for silver and gold, but be sure to use it properly and never get the water too hot. If you have any doubts about your ability to safely clean your fine jewelry, take it to a professional jewelry shop instead.