How To Clean Tarnished Gold

Gold can hold its value for several decades, which is why it’s such a safe investment, but if you don’t take care, it will tarnish and lose its beauty. Selling tarnished gold won’t fetch the best price. What do you do with tarnished gold, then? It is possible to restore the beauty and value of your gold by cleaning it at home.

This guide on how to clean tarnished gold explores three simple methods for renewing your gold items to their former glory. These methods include using baking soda, dish soap, or ammonia, all of which are items you may have in your home.

Three Ways To Clean Tarnished Gold

Using Baking Soda

Baking soda is a potent cleaning agent. The mild alkali properties dissolve and eliminate dirt and grease quickly. When used undissolved, baking soda can also function as a mild abrasive or scouring powder for lifting stubborn stains. The product is non-toxic, and you can use it for cleaning steel, glass, plastics, and gold. Using baking soda to clean gold jewelry with gemstones is not advisable as it can spoil the stones. Follow these steps to use baking soda to clean tarnished gold:

Boil Water

You need at least two cups of hot water for the cleaning process.

Get A Baking Dish

Cover a baking dish with a sheet of aluminum foil. Spread the foil flat on the dish with the shiny side up. A glass baking dish is best because it can handle the heat.

Place The Gold In The Dish

Put your gold item on the foil-covered baking dish and coat it evenly with baking soda. If the gold item is a chain, spread it out and untangle it.

Add Hot Water

Pour boiling water into the pan until the baking soda completely submerges the item. Leave it to soak for at least five minutes, but not longer than ten minutes. Otherwise, the hot water might melt the adhesives and loosen the gemstones embedded in the jewelry. You don’t have to stir the solution because the aluminum foil will cause the hot water and baking soda to react automatically.

Remove The Gold

Use tongs or any other tool to pull the gold out of the hot water. Wash it under cold water for 45 seconds while using your fingers to rinse it. You may want to place a sieve or colander in the sink to prevent the gold item from falling down the drain.

Dry It

Use a soft cloth to dry the gold and scrub off any baking soda remnants. While buffing the item, make sure the cloth remains between your fingers and the gold’s surface. After using the cloth, let the gold item air-dry for five to ten minutes before wearing it or returning it to storage.

If the gold item is quite dirty, add one tablespoon of salt to the hot water to help soften the dirt and debris.

Using Dish Soap

Mild dish soap is another effective solution for cleaning your tarnished gold. Avoid strong detergents, especially those products that contain phosphates and unfamiliar ingredients. If the purity of your gold jewelry is low, a strong detergent might be too abrasive and damage the jewelry irreparably.

Here’s how to clean tarnished gold with mild dish soap:

Add Dish Soap To Warm Water

Get a bowl of warm tap water (about one to two cups) and add a few drops of mild dish soap. Mix the soap and water solution well.

Soak The Gold

Place your gold in the water and soap solution, and let it soak for fifteen minutes. The soaking will soften the accumulated dirt, making it easier to remove as you scrub it.

If the gold item has stones glued to it, the hot soap-water solution might dissolve the adhesive. You can prevent that kind of damage by soaking the item for no longer than a couple of minutes.

Scrub The Gold

Remove the gold from the soap water and use a soft-bristle toothbrush to scour it. Rub it with a firm back-and-forth motion, but avoid being too heavy-handed on delicate items. Rough scrubbing may damage the item’s surface with scratches or abrasions, or knock out the attached gems.

Also, using abrasive materials like paper towels might scratch the gold’s surface.

Rinse The Item

After the cleaning, place the gold under warm running water to rinse off the soap. Rub every surface of the item with your thumb and forefinger while rinsing to ensure that all the soap is removed. Any soap residue will make the gold’s surface look grimy.

During the rinse, be careful not to drop fine pieces of jewelry down the drain. A sieve or colander acts as a barrier while you rinse the gold by hand.

Dry The Gold

A soft cloth is the best choice to dry the gold. Be thorough, or you will see water stains that ruin the gold’s aesthetics in the light. After drying with the cloth, leave the gold item to air dry before storing it.

Using Ammonia

using anmonia for tarnished gold
Ammonia is a colorless industrial chemical that contains nitrogen and hydrogen. When used correctly, ammonia is a safe product for removing grime, stains, and other dirt from gold surfaces. Ammonia can cause skin irritation, so be sure to wear gloves when handling this chemical.

To restore your tarnished gold, follow these steps:

Mix Water, Soap, And Ammonia

Pour a cup of warm water into a container and add one teaspoon of mild soap. Stir the combination until the soap dilutes. Next, add half a teaspoon of ammonia to the mix and stir it well. Ammonia has a powerful odor that might irritate your throat, so it is healthier to work in a well-ventilated room. You could also wear a mask to prevent inhaling harmful fumes.

Submerge The Gold

Cover your gold item in the ammonia, soap, and water mixture for no longer than ten seconds.

Scrub The Gold

Pull the item out of the solution with gloves or tongs, keeping the gloves on to protect your skin while handling the gold. Hold the item firmly, gently scrubbing it with a soft-bristle toothbrush. Scrub at arm’s length to prevent the solution from spraying back into your eyes or face.

Keep scrubbing until the tarnished surfaces are clean.

Rinse With Cold Water

After scrubbing, rinse the item thoroughly with cold water above a colander or sieve.

Wash With Soap

Use a gentle soap and a soft brush to scrub every facet of the piece. Careful cleaning will get eradicate any leftover ammonia, which might harm you or the gold.

After washing, rinse the gold with warm water before drying it with a soft towel. Let the gold air dry for ten minutes before wearing it or placing it back into safe storage.

Ammonia can be dangerous. After cleaning your gold, wash and rinse every item you used for the cleaning process thoroughly before storing it. Even if you intend to use a dishwasher, you will need to wash and rinse the items to remove the chemical beforehand.

What Causes Gold to Tarnish?

Tarnishing means that your gold is starting to corrode. A tarnished surface is usually darker than the rest of the item’s surfaces.

The corrosion process occurs as moisture, oxygen, and sulfur compounds mix with the other metals present in your gold.

Pure gold contains fewer metals that can interact to cause tarnishing, which means the higher the purity of your gold, the less likely it is to tarnish.

The composition of your sweat and the perfume, hairspray, lotion, and detergents you use often speeds up the tarnishing reaction. These compounds contain elements that accelerate corrosion.

How to Stop Gold from Tarnishing

tarnished stop sign
If you want your gold items to remain beautiful, you have to take care of the details. Here are preventive measures you can implement to prevent your gold from tarnishing:

Keep it Dry

Moisture from water, sweat, and other liquids accelerate the tarnishing process, so dry your gold immediately after use and never store it wet.

Proper Storage

You must store your gold in a dry container out of direct sunlight that can cause tarnishing. For example, you can store it in a velvet bag that keeps out both moisture and sunlight. You can then store the velvet bag in an airtight Ziploc bag or a plastic container.

Protectant Spray

Protectant sprays provide a shield that keeps harmful elements from settling on your gold surfaces. Be careful about which protectant spray you choose, however. Some ingredients cause skin irritation, rashes, and other adverse side-effects when you wear your sprayed gold jewelry.


Our experts have provided everything you need to know about how to clean tarnished gold and prevent your gold products from tarnishing. Regardless of the cleaning method you use, be careful to avoid scratching your gold and be sure to let it dry completely before storing or using it.

If you don’t have the time to clean your gold yourself, contact us today so we can recommend you for professional gold cleaning and restoration services.

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