Gold jewellery can last for hundreds of years, but it needs cleaning regularly to keep it looking its best.
Compared to other metals, gold is fairly delicate and needs careful attention to get it shining again.
So, on that note, let’s cover how to polish gold. This method will work on jewellery of all sizes. That said, there are some exceptions, which we’ll discuss below.
How to Polish Gold
To polish gold, you only need a few household cleaning products. These are:
- Gentle washing up liquid
- Bicarbonate of soda (also known as baking soda)
- A soft-bristled toothbrush
- A jeweller’s cloth (something like a spectacle lens cloth works fine)
The steps are as follows:
- Fill a bowl with warm water. Add a squirt of washing up liquid and around a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda. Make sure both ingredients are fully dissolved.
- Put your gold in the water and leave it to soak for 5-10 minutes.
- Use the toothbrush to gently remove any debris. Try to avoid using too much pressure – exactly as if you were brushing your teeth!
- Rinse the gold in clean warm water. You can do this by running it under water or submerging it in a fresh bowl of water.
- Dry the gold using a microfibre cloth or soft towel. Avoid paper towels or anything too abrasive.
- Finally, polish the gold with the jeweller’s cloth. Buffing it will bring a shine back without the need for any extra products.
This method can be used for gold items of any size. Of course, if you have something really big that has gold elements, you probably won’t be able to submerge it in a bowl of water.
If that’s the case, simply dip a cloth in the bicarb and soap mixture and wipe it over the gold. You can then basically follow the steps as above.
Tips for Polishing Gold
As you can see, the process of polishing gold isn’t difficult, but you have to be gentle. Here are some tips for keeping your gold safe when cleaning it:
- Try to use the most basic dish soap you can find. By this, we mean the one with the fewest ingredients. A standard brand like Fairy should be fine, but something gentler like Ecover will be better.
- Avoid any cleaning products with chlorine in them. Chlorine can permanently damage gold, so this tip also applies to wearing gold when cleaning or getting in a hot tub!
- Gold itself doesn’t tarnish, but only 24 carat gold is pure gold. Anything less is an alloy, meaning it has other metals mixed in for various reasons. These metals might tarnish, so avoid any cleaning products that are potentially corrosive or abrasive.
- If your gold jewellery has gemstones set in it, you’ll want to speak to a professional about how to clean it. Gentle washing up liquid should be fine, but it’s best to check whether the stones are treated before trying to clean them.
- When and where you wear your jewellery has a big impact on how often it needs cleaning. Don’t wear it when cleaning or exercising, and avoid applying lotion or cream when wearing rings, for example.
- Store your jewellery in a box that has separate compartments, which ideally are fabric-lined. This stops your pieces from rubbing against each other, reducing the risk of scratching.
How Often to Clean Gold
How often you clean your gold depends on how regularly it’s worn and its carat level.
Frequently worn pieces (such as a wedding ring) should at least be polished monthly to keep them shiny.
Similarly, items with a lower carat will go dull quicker, so you’ll find they need cleaning more regularly.
FAQs on Cleaning Gold
How do I make my gold shiny?
You can make gold shiny by buffing it with a microfibre cloth. The best type is a jeweller’s cloth, which is very similar to a spectacle lens cloth.
You shouldn’t need any special products to make the gold shiny, as it does a good job of this on its own.
What not to use on gold jewellery
Never use abrasive products directly on gold. This includes toothpaste, bicarbonate of soda, or metal cleaners like Brasso.
The method above includes bicarbonate of soda, but it’s dissolved in water, which is absolutely fine. Just avoid using abrasive products on the gold itself.
Does vinegar clean gold?
You can use white vinegar to clean gold. However, vinegar can tarnish other metals that might be mixed in, although diluted white vinegar should be fine. If you’re in doubt, stick to the washing up liquid method above.
Is there a way to clean tarnished gold?
Pure gold itself doesn’t tarnish. Rather, it’s the alloys in the gold that can tarnish.
You can clean this at home using ammonia, but it’d be better to speak to a professional jeweller.
They’ll have the right products to properly clean gold. However, they might also advise against it cleaning it, as tarnish can be an indication of a piece’s age and value.
And there you have it: everything you need to know about how to polish gold.
It’s worth knowing the correct steps so you don’t risk damaging your gold when cleaning it.
Generally, though, pretty much any mistake can be fixed by a professional jeweller.
Even if you clean your gold regularly, consider taking them to a jeweller every year or so.
They’ll use their specialist products to get rid of any buildup your washing up liquid isn’t able to remove.
Once you’ve had your gold jewellery professionally cleaned, you’ll notice the difference!
Jacob is a freelance writer based in Wales, where he lives with his partner and two dogs. All his work is fuelled by extensive research and buckets of coffee.