Costume jewelry can be just as valuable to people as fine jewelry, whether it be monetary value or sentimental value. As with all things we value in our life there comes a time when they have to be cleaned, granted, this is not a fun thing to have to do, but we have to do it. In this article I will provide you with a few tips of how to clean your costume jewelry and handmade jewelry pieces made for fashion without damaging them. You will need to use a very gentle cleaning process.
The dry method is safest for cleaning handmade costume jewelry pieces. Use good lighting such as a lamp you can direct over the pieces you are cleaning or a counter in front of a window where the sun shines through brightly. Remove dirt caked onto the surface with a dry baby toothbrush. Spray compressed air about 1 to 2 inches from the jewelry surfaces to loosen dirt and dust trapped within the jewelry. Use a magnifying glass to inspect handmade jewelry pieces as you clean looking for trapped dirt you miss from normal eye sight inspections. Never use a metal pick while cleaning handmade costume jewelry. Metal picks can easily scratch glass beads and soft gemstones. Use a toothpick to remove the dirt.
Once all your cleaning is complete polish the handmade jewelry piece with a dry and soft cloth. This will remove most fingerprints and smudges and restore the jewelry pieces back to an original shine.
Inspect your cleaning work with a magnifying glass as a final step. If you still see dirt and grime after a dry cleaning process step up to a gentle cleansing solution. Using a gentle soap such as Dawn or Palmolive dishwashing liquid soap, mix one part soap with three parts lukewarm water in a small bowl. Any kind of harsh soap should always be avoided. Use only a mild cleanser and you can purchase cleansers made especially to clean handmade costume jewelry.
Use a cotton swap or the soft-bristled baby toothbrush and dip into the soap/water solution. Tap the brush on side of bowl lightly to shake out excess solution; this step will help you use the least amount of cleanser solution possible as this is best for the jewelry.
Apply light pressure as you gently brush the gems, beads, and metal of your handmade costume jewelry to avoid loosening any of the “putting together mechanisms” of the jewelry pieces.
Quickly rinse cleansed handmade costume jewelry under running lukewarm water. Water can damage costume jewelry, so be careful and do this step quickly, avoiding exposing the jewery to a lot of water. Never immerse handmade costume jewelry into water for long periods of time. Quickly Rinse with lukewarm water, then gently blot excess moisture off the piece of jewelry with a soft, dry or flannel cloth.
Lay cleansed handmade costume jewelry pieces on a paper towel and then run your hair dryer over the pieces on cool setting to hasten the drying period. Allow to completely dry and then polish the piece with a soft, dry or flannel cloth.
If your handmade costume jewelry requires more cleaning after the above procedures you can try a strong cleanser. Use a non-acetone nail polish remover solution or a gentle jewelry cleanser made specifically for cleaning costume jewelry. Read labels and be sure to avoid cleaning agents containing alcohol or vinegar as both of these agents are harmful for cleaning costume jewelry pieces. Be sure the cleanser you choose says on the label that it is safe to use for costume jewelry and you will be fine using it for handmade costume jewelry as well.
Use the same method as described above substituting your home cleaning remedy with a store bought cleanser. Avoid scrubbing around areas of jewelry where glue has been used or you may loosen the adhesive properties of the glue.
Written by: Connie Limon for Carmilita’s Handmade Jewelry