April 26, 2022
Homemade Jewelry Cleaner, Hack or Hoax?
We explain why using toothpaste as a homemade jewelry cleaner can do more harm than good.
In addition to cleaning your teeth, toothpaste has been lauded as a DIY remedy for everything from making your nails grow to getting rid of acne. But can toothpaste be used to safely clean jewelry?
Despite what you may have heard, this is a complete hoax. It is not recommended that you use toothpaste to clean your jewelry as you may end up permanently ruining its luster and overall integrity. It’s better to use a jewelry cleanser specifically formulated for safety and efficacy.
Toothpaste Is Too Abrasive to Safely Clean Jewelry
Dentists and jewelers alike agree it’s always best to use products for which they are designed. Toothpaste is an abrasive that contains calcium carbonate and modified silica, agents used to break up food debris found in your mouth. Abrasives can damage jewelry because of their chemical composition, measured by the Mohs Scale of Hardness.
Mohs Scale of Hardness
Mohs Scale of Hardness was developed in 1812 by Friedrich Mohs, a German mineralogist. The Mohs Scale of Hardness provides a measure of a particular gem or mineral’s resistance to being scratched. The scale ranges from 1 (least hard, talc) to 10 (most hard, diamond). It’s best used to determine durability, meaning how a gem or mineral can withstand abrasions.
According to Science, Toothpaste Can Harm Jewelry
Experts rate many toothpastes between a scale of 2.5 and 4 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. The abrasives in toothpastes, which according to the American Dental Association, are designed not to dissolve in water, can scratch the surface of gemstones and metals like gold and silver.
Some toothpaste formulas also contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), which makes it a detergent. However, SLS has little cleaning power and is used in toothpaste for its foaming properties. Other common toothpaste ingredients include fluoride (including sodium fluoride and stannous fluoride) and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) which can be corrosive to metal. Hydrogen peroxide, a chemical lightener is another common toothpaste ingredient, which can be reactive with metals and semi-precious stones. Finally, gums, favoring agents, and non-sugar sweeteners are common to toothpaste formulas, which might cause chemical reactions with your jewelry. Opals and pearls, two of the most porous precious gemstones, will permanently lose their color and sheen if they come in contact with toothpaste.
You’re better off sticking with a non-abrasive jewelry cleanser specifically formulated for the metals, gem and semi-precious stones of your favorite baubles.
How to Clean Silver
Silver jewelry has its own unique maintenance needs, especially considering tarnish that builds up over time. What is the best way to clean silver jewelry? Here are our top three recommendations for cleaning both sterling silver and other silver jewelry:
Connoisseurs Tip: Silver actually tarnishes most easily sitting in a jewelry box. Constant friction from everyday wear, on the other hand, helps to create a natural polishing effect. When you’re not wearing your silver jewelry, wrap it in a Connoisseurs UltraSoft® Jewelry Polishing Cloth to slow down the tarnishing process.
How to Clean Gold
Here are our top three recommendations for cleaning all types of gold for professional results:
For more information on cleaning your 14K, 18K, and 24K gold, gold plated and gold filled jewelry and platinum jewelry, see our Connoisseurs guide to cleaning jewelry at home.
How to Clean Pearls
We recommend using our Connoisseurs Delicate Jewelry Cleaner, Jewelry Cleansing Foam, or Dazzle Drops® Advanced for your pearl jewelry. If your pearls are strung with a silk strand they can remain wet up to a week and need to be completely dry before wearing.
Read more information on cleaning pearls.
How to Clean Gemstone Jewelry
When cleaning gemstone jewelry, you’re not only addressing the stone, you’re also cleaning the metal it’s set in. We recommend using our Connoisseurs Delicate Jewelry Cleaner for delicate gemstones. Consult the Connoisseurs guide to cleaning jewelry at home for your specific stone. For a broader range of jewelry including non-delicate gemstones, we recommend our Fine Jewelry Cleaner.
To clean the setting, first determine your metal and clean accordingly.
For more comprehensive information, consult the Connoisseurs guide to cleaning jewelry at home. Find tips on how to clean your gold, silver, diamond, pearl, and gemstone jewelry as well as how to clean semi-precious stones and costume jewelry.