How to Clean Gold

Gold jewelry has a distinct beauty that many desire. It does not tarnish like other metals, but does get dirty from oil in the skin, body lotions, perfumes, and make-up. Fortunately, gold is easy to care for. You can remove the dirt and return the shine quickly with a few simple steps.

Cleaning Soiled Gold

You Will Need:

  • Mild dish detergent
  • Small bowl
  • Jewelry brush or baby toothbrush (ensure it has soft bristles)
  • Soft cloth
  • Jewelry polishing cloth

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Close the drain of the sink or insert a strainer into the drain. The last thing you want is to see your precious jewelry slipping down the drain.
  2. Fill the bowl with about 2 cups of warm water.
  3. Add a few drops of mild detergent and mix.
  4. Place the gold piece in the solution and allow it to soak for a few minutes.
  5. Use the soft brush to gently scrub away dirt and build-up.
  6. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.
  7. Dry with a soft polishing cloth.

Using Ammonia to Clean Gold

Using ammonia as a cleaning method is one that should be used sparingly on gold jewelry. It’s very effective in removing dirt and grime, but cleaning too frequently with ammonia can leave your gold jewelry damaged or tinted.

You Will Need:

  • Soft polishing cloth
  • Small bowl
  • Ammonia
  • Water

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Begin by mixing a solution of 1 part ammonia with 6 parts water in the small bowl.
  2. Place your gold jewelry in the solution and allow it to soak for up to 60 seconds.
  3. Rinse the jewelry thoroughly under running water ensuring that all cleaning solution is removed.
  4. Dry the jewelry with the soft polishing cloth.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • If you don’t have a jewelry brush, an eyebrow brush will work as long as the bristles are soft. Using any brush with stiff bristles can scratch the gold surface.
  • If you have a gemstone that is Pave Set (the stones are glued into the setting), do not immerse the piece in water during cleaning.
  • Store gold jewelry away from other metal jewelry to avoid scratches. Using small pouches or separate compartments in a jewelry box works well.
  • Keep your gold jewelry away from household cleaners such as bleach as they can cause damage.
  • Remove your gold jewelry before bathing as the soap will dull the gold surface.
  • Remove your gold jewelry before swimming as the chlorine will discolor the gold.
  • Gold is a soft metal so handle with care to avoid scratching and bending.
  • Cleaning your gold jewelry after each use with a soft polishing cloth will keep it shinier longer.


  1. I clean my ‘silver’ jewelry. I put my rings and stuff in a astray, sounds very dirty, but it really works.

    You have to roll them around in the ash.
    And you will see it shines!

    No spot is missed.

  2. I clean all my jewelry with toothpaste! I simply put about an inch of toothpaste into the palm of my hand, add a little bit of water, add one piece of jewelry and squish it around in the paste and water mix. Rinse thoroughly and dry with a soft cloth. Voilà! Sparkling clean jewelry.

  3. What if my gold jewelry has already been discolored by chlorine from a swimming pool? What can I do to shine it back up?

  4. Neat little trick I saw an old girlfriend use many years ago was to use a tissue and put a very small amount of liquid makeup spread around till nearly dry then lightly rub the gold jewelry. It will restore the original luster.

  5. I have a very old ring; my grandparents gave it to my mother when she turned 21. Now, my mother gave it to me, but it seems like it is dirty, or discolored.

    Almost seems like a really dark gold. Is it because it’s really, really old? Or dirty? Or what? Can I actually still get it to shine and be as bright as the gold of today?

  6. Kelparus2002 says:

    When going to the mall, wear some of your gold jewelry. Most jewelry stores clean gold for free.

  7. I accidentally cleaned some gold jewelry in silver jewelry cleaner. It is now dull looking. How can I get the shine back in my gold jewelry?

  8. I put my gold rings in a cleaner with a magnetic bracelet. When I took them out of the cleaner, the gold was black. How do I get them clean again?

  9. I have one slight problem; I was in science class and the thermometer had broken, so I was playing with the little sliver ball. It had fallen to the ground, but once I picked it up, instead of the little silver ball falling back down to the ground, it slid through my rings and turned them silver when they are actually gold. What can I do? I need help.

  10. Jocelyn,
    The silver balls in the thermometer were elemental mercury, which is a hazardous material. First, you need to tell your parents about this immediately. They will be able to help you take care of all the aspects of this issue. I would also advise that you call poison control (in the US: 1-800-222-1222) to discuss your exposure.

    I will ask the resident Mr. Clean to investigate your question about cleaning mercury stains from gold. For now, put the rings in an airtight container, such as a Tupperware or ziplock bag.

    Source: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia – Mercury

  11. Archana says:

    I always have this apprehension of getting free service on cleaning or restoring minor repairs in old pieces of gold jewelry. Is there a catch; do they put some liquid on that also takes away some of it?

  12. I saw this question above, but did not see any answer to it. Any ideas? I accidentally cleaned some gold jewelry in silver jewelry cleaner. It is now dull-looking. How can I get the shine back in my gold jewelry?

  13. If you made a boo-boo with a store-bought jewelry cleaner’s instructions, contact the manufacturer. Sometimes they can help you.

  14. I have a 14 kt. Yellow gold nugget bracelet that is turning black. What can I do to clean it?

  15. I have white gold and also platinum pieces: a white gold with diamond ring, 2 pairs of white gold and diamond earrings, 1 pair of platinum earrings, and 2 silver charms.
    I followed the advice of a website and cleaned all the pieces with a mix of hot water, salt, and gentle soap.
    When I removed the jewelry to rinse it with cold water, all of the pieces had changed color and now all of them are looking dull, dark, and I have no idea what to do about it. Please, help!

  16. I have 5 yellow gold bracelets; they are about 10 years old. I put them in a store bought jewelry cleaner, the same one I’ve used for years. But, this time when I took them out, some turned orange. How do I remove the orange color? They look horrible and phony. Please help! Thank you in advance! Debbie

  17. How do I clean a necklace that is gold and silver?

    Check it out! We’ve answered your question! Yay!

  18. Christina says:

    I worked at a jewelry store and when we cleaned the gold, we just used a mild soapy solution that was sold for jewelry cleaning and the ultrasonic machine that shakes the jewelry to loosen dirt; the water would be warm. Once that was done, it was removed, rinsed, dried, polished with a dry jewelers cloth, and if there were any scratches or marks on gold, we had a buff pad or sometimes wheels that rotate and would hold the piece gently next to the wheel or rub it on the cloth and it removed the scratches or imperfections on the gold and it looked brand new!!!!! And YES this does remove a bit of the actual gold, hence removing the scratch or tarnish mark, stain, etc.!

  19. I have a beautiful diamond ring that is around 50 years old. It was platinum, but after using some store bought cleaner, it turned gold-looking. I had also cleaned some gold in the cleaner too. How do I get it back to the platinum look? It looks so ugly yellow. Please help.

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