Will baking soda ruin my jewelry?

Baking soda is a common household product used for cleaning and deodorizing. Some people use baking soda to clean jewelry, but this can actually damage certain types of jewelry over time. In this article, we’ll explore whether baking soda is safe for cleaning jewelry and look at some better alternatives.

Can baking soda damage jewelry?

Baking soda is mildly abrasive and alkaline, with a pH around 8-9. This means it can slowly wear down and corrode certain materials, especially over repeated exposure. Here are some ways baking soda can damage jewelry:

  • Removes protective coatings: Jewelry pieces like gold, silver, and platinum are often coated with lacquer or enamel to protect the surface from wear and prevent tarnishing. Baking soda can slowly remove this protective finish.
  • Corrodes soft metals: Baking soda should never be used on jewelry made of copper, brass, or nickel, as it can cause pitting, discoloration, and corrosion over time. This applies to settings as well as metal plating.
  • Dulls precious gemstones: Diamonds and other precious gemstones have a high hardness rating, but baking soda can still cause microscopic scratches that gradually make stones appear cloudy and dull.
  • Degrades softer stones: Many semi-precious gems like turquoise, pearls, opal, etc. are relatively soft and porous compared to diamonds. Baking soda can slowly erode the surface of these stones.
  • Weakens metal alloys: Jewelry metals like gold alloys can become brittle and prone to cracking after repeated exposure to baking soda.

In general, baking soda is too harsh for most jewelry and should be avoided. The abrasive texture and alkaline pH makes it risky for long-term care of delicate jewelry.

Is baking soda safe for any types of jewelry?

Baking soda is gentle enough that it likely won’t damage jewelry after a single use. However, there are still certain types of jewelry that are more vulnerable and best cleaned with other methods:

  • Silver: Can be safely cleaned occasionally with baking soda. Avoid using too often to prevent wearing down lacquer coatings.
  • Gold: Lower karat gold alloys with more base metals can corrode over time. Stick to polishing cloths for pure 24K gold.
  • Diamonds: While extremely hard, accumulated micro-scratches from baking soda can make stones appear dull.
  • Pearls & opals: Baking soda can erode and discolor the nacre surface of pearls. Opal is relatively soft and porous.
  • Plated metals: Baking soda removes thin plated metal coatings like gold vermeil or silver plate.
  • Vintage & antique: Older jewelry often has thinner platings. The metals and settings are also more fragile.

For fine jewelry or heirloom pieces, it’s better to avoid baking soda entirely. Even diamonds and gold alloy pieces can slowly accumulate abrasion damage. Instead, stick to gentler cleaning methods to be safe.

What about baking soda and vinegar to clean jewelry?

Making a paste of baking soda and vinegar is another home remedy people use to clean tarnished silver jewelry. However, this can be even more damaging than baking soda alone for a few reasons:

  • Highly acidic: The acetic acid in vinegar can corrode and pit sensitive metals even more aggressively.
  • Bubbling reaction: The foaming reaction scrub even more abrasively and forcefully.
  • Residual vinegar: Rinsing doesn’t remove all traces of acidic vinegar, continuing to damage jewelry.

Vinegar and baking soda offer no advantages for cleaning jewelry safely. This combination should always be avoided.

How does baking soda clean jewelry?

When used for cleaning, baking soda works in a couple key ways:

  • Abrasive texture: The fine powdery texture of baking soda has a gently abrasive effect that helps rub away tarnish and buildup.
  • Alkaline pH: Baking soda forms a mild alkali when dissolved in water, which helps dissolve acidic tarnish on metals like silver and copper.
  • Deodorizing: Baking soda absorbs odors. This helps remove smelly buildup on jewelry that collects over time.

However, there are gentler methods that take advantage of baking soda’s benefits without the risks. For example, a non-abrasive alkaline silver dip can neutralize tarnish without scrubbing that wears down metals and finishes.

How to clean jewelry with baking soda safely

If you wish to use baking soda to clean jewelry, there are a few precautions you can take to reduce the risks of damage:

  • Avoid frequent cleaning: Only use baking soda occasionally rather than as a regular jewelry cleaner.
  • Use very dilute solutions: Mix just 1-2 tsp baking soda into several cups of water.
  • Don’t let jewelry soak: Limit soaking time to just a few minutes.
  • Rinse thoroughly: Ensure all baking soda residue is washed off.
  • Dry immediately: Gently pat dry with a clean soft cloth.
  • Avoid soft metals, pearls, opals and vintage jewelry: Stick to modern gold, silver, diamonds if using baking soda.

However, it’s impossible to completely prevent gradual damage from baking soda over time. You’ll get the safest results using cleaning methods designed specifically for fine jewelry.

Better alternatives for cleaning jewelry

For cleaning gold, silver, diamonds and other fine jewelry, use commercial cleaners formulated to be effective yet gentle. Some better options include:

Jewelry cleaner solutions

Jewelry cleaning solutions dissolve dirt and tarnish without abrasive scrubbing. Look for pH-balanced formulas safe for most jewelry types.

Jewelry cleaning cloths

Pre-moistened jewelry cloths contain mild cleaning agents that shine without scratching. They’re convenient for quick cleanups.

Ultrasonic cleaners

Ultrasonic cleaning uses waves to lift dirt and buildup out of crevices and settings. Solutions are tuned for safety across jewelry types.

Steam cleaners

Jewelry steamers use hot vapor to naturally melt away grime. They’re excellent for cleaning diamond and gold pieces.

Professional cleanings

Jewelers use professional-grade cleaning agents and methods safe for fine metals and gemstones. Ideal for thorough periodic cleanings.

Avoid exposing jewelry to abrasives, acids, bleach or other harsh chemicals. Stick to specialized products designed to gently clean jewelry for the best results and safety.

Tips for keeping jewelry clean

Regular at-home cleaning helps keep jewelry looking its best between professional cleanings. Here are some useful care and storage tips:

  • Wipe down jewelry after each wear with a plain soft cloth to remove oils, soap, perfume etc.
  • Take rings, bracelets and watches off before applying lotions, cosmetics, fragrances.
  • Clean jewelry over a towel rather than the sink to avoid losing stones.
  • Dry pieces thoroughly after cleaning and before storing away.
  • Keep jewelry stored in separate boxes rather than touching and scratching each other.
  • Have fine jewelry professionally cleaned every 6-12 months for a deep clean.

Following a consistent jewelry care routine helps minimize the need for harsh chemical cleaners. Be sure to research and use cleaning methods appropriate for your particular jewelry types and metals.

How to clean specific jewelry types

Certain jewelry types require specialized care. Here are some tips for safely cleaning different kinds of jewelry:


  • Use dedicated silver cleaner, dip, cloth or anti-tarnish strips in storage
  • Avoid prolonged soaking, brushing or exposure to air/sulfur
  • Hand wash with mild soap and water
  • Dry thoroughly after rinsing


  • Clean with mild jewelry cleaner and soft cloth
  • Ultrasonic or steam cleaners are safe for gold
  • Avoid harsh chemicals like bleach, ammonia, acids
  • Store in anti-tarnish pouch to prevent dulling


  • Soak in warm water with a drop of mild dish soap
  • Gently scrub behind stones with a soft-bristle toothbrush
  • Ultrasonic cleaning is safe for platinum jewelry
  • Avoid exposure to chlorine bleach and other harsh chemicals


  • Soak in an ammonia-based jewelry cleaner for 5-10 minutes
  • Use a soft baby toothbrush behind stones and under setting
  • Steam cleaners are excellent and safe for diamonds
  • Take care not to scratch metal backing of diamond tennis bracelets

Pearls & opals

  • Wipe down gently with damp soft cloth
  • Use very dilute mild soap and water solution
  • Do not soak for more than a few minutes
  • Avoid acidic solutions, alcohol, perfumes
  • Re-hydrate opals periodically with mineral oil

Always research the best cleaning approach for your specific jewelry to avoid damage. When in doubt, have the piece professionally cleaned to be safe.

How to clean jewelry findings and clasps

Jewelry clasps, chains and other findings should be cleaned as part of routine jewelry maintenance. Here are some tips:

  • Soak chains in mild soapy water, dry thoroughly after
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush dipped in cleaner to scrub clasps
  • Rinse and dry any parts before reconnecting to the jewelry piece
  • Have a jeweler periodically check and tighten any loose clasps and mountings
  • Replace thin chains that show wear, tearing or discoloration

Take care not to bend or distort clasps during cleaning. With vintage pieces, have a jeweler replace severely worn findings to prevent loss of stones or damage to the setting.

Can I use a jewelry ultrasonic cleaner at home?

Ultrasonic cleaners use ultrasonic waves to vigorously shake dirt and grime out of crevices in jewelry. They can be used at home with some precautions:

  • Use the proper cleaning solution – soap, ammonia, or commercial cleaners.
  • Avoid extended exposure for fragile jewelry like pearls, opals, emeralds.
  • Don’t mix jewelry types in one bath to prevent scratching.
  • Rinse and dry jewelry thoroughly after ultrasonic cleaning.
  • Clean the device itself regularly to prevent buildup of dirt, oil, grime inside.

Ultrasonic cleaning is generally safe for diamonds, gold, silver, platinum and other hard jewelry. However, certain soft stones and materials may be damaged by prolonged exposure to ultrasonic waves and harsh solutions.


Baking soda should be avoided as a routine jewelry cleaner due to its abrasive texture and alkaline pH that can damage many jewelry types over time. For cleaning gold, silver, diamond and other fine jewelry, specialized commercial cleaners or professional cleanings are safest. With some care and proper methods, most jewelry can be kept looking beautiful for years.

Leave a Comment