How to Clean Tarnished Jewelry

Bringing Life Back to Your Tarnished Jewelry

It’s normal for jewelry you wear often to start to sparkle less. Just like your favorite pair of jeans or sneakers, your jewelry needs regular care and cleaning to keep them shining. Knowing how to care for your jewelry will help preserve it and keep it looking beautiful. We’ll share helpful tips and easy-to-follow steps to empower you in this process! 

Especially if your jewelry is made up of sterling silver or has copper components, you will likely notice a darkening of its color, ranging from yellow and reddish-brown to black and blue. This varnish layer forming on the surface of your jewelry is called tarnish. There’s good news though—tarnishing is easy to clean and there’s more than one way to do it.  

Getting Started

Ready to remove tarnish with items you likely already have at home? You’ll need the following items: 

  • Bowl 
  • Cleaning liquid 
  • Soft, dry towel 

Start by adding warm water to each bowl and mixing a couple drops of mild soap into one of the bowls and stirring until bubbles form. If your jewelry is particularly detailed or ornate, consider using a tarnish remover in place of a mild soap. Note that tarnish remover has a strong odor and it’s a good idea to wear gloves to avoid chemicals coming into contact with your skin.

Step 1

Soak jewelry in cleaning solution. 

If using mild soap, let jewelry soak for 5-10 minutes. If you are using a tarnish remover, it only takes a minute or two to see a major improvement. Tarnish remover works very quickly.

soaking jewelry in cleaning solution

Step 2

Rinse jewelry in warm water. 

Rinsing thoroughly prevents soap build-up or lingering chemical odor. We recommend rinsing your jewelry in another bowl of warm water and not over the sink where your jewelry could slip down a drain.

Rinsing jewelry in warm water

Step 3

Use a soft, dry cloth to pat jewelry dry. 

If the cloth is too hard or rough, it may cause damage to the piece by scratching it. For this reason, avoid using paper products like napkins and paper towels.

Drying jewelry with a soft, dry cloth

Step 4

Restore shine as needed with a polishing cloth. 

Use a long, back-and-forth motion across the jewelry piece to polish and remove tarnish. Polishing your jewelry pieces regularly can prevent tarnish from taking over. JTV’s Jewelry Cleaning Essentials Polishing Cloth is the perfect tool for polishing these pieces regularly.

polishing jewelry

JTV's Jewelry Cleaning Essentials®

For removing tarnish, we recommend using our JTV Cleaning Essentials Jewelry Care System. This gentle system is a tested formula to super-clean your jewelry in just a few steps.

Start by opening the cleanser and pulling out the basket inside the container. Sit your jewelry on the strainer-like surface and slowly let the basket down to the bottom of the container. Let your jewelry soak in the cleanser for about two minutes. After two minutes, slowly pull up the basket and remove your jewelry.

Next, you'll want to take the small touch-up brush and gently clean the surface of your jewelry. Pay special attention to hard-to-reach areas. Rinse jewelry carefully with lukewarm water and blot dry with a soft, dry cloth.

After cleaning, you'll want to use your Jewelry Cleaning Essentials® polishing cloth and rub gently to remove any residue and add a finishing shine.

For more information about each product and its ingredients, visit

Remove Tarnish with JTV's Jewelry Cleaning Essentials

Cleaning On-The-Go or In A Hurry?

We've got you covered, too. Our Jewelry & Watch Cleansing Wipes are perfect to take along on a business trip or vacation. These wipes are individually wrapped and sealed and extra durable for removing grime, dirt and oils on your jewelry or watch. Since they are individually wrapped, they are perfect for sharing if you want your friends to see how well they restore sparkle.

We also love the Cleaning Essentials SPARKLE + SHINE STICK that you can throw in your purse or makeup bag for a powerful clean on the go. The SPARKLE + SHINE® STICK is a jewelry cleaning stick with a flexible brush tip perfect for hard-to-reach areas like under stones and settings. It's so easy to use - just remove the cap, twist the tip until bubbles" appear on the brush and apply the brush directly to your jewelry. All you have to do is rinse the jewelry and blot it dry with a soft, clean cloth. This tool is safe for gold, silver, platinum and most fashion jewelry.

on-the-go cleaning essentials

More Tips to Care for Tarnished Jewelry

  • Polish jewelry after each wear
  • Store jewelry pieces inside a jewelry pouch or box where it will not be exposed to open air—even an air-tight plastic bag can help prevent tarnish. We also recommend storing jewelry pieces separately to prevent scratching and damage.
  • If your jewelry is sterling silver, it will become shinier the more it’s worn!

 We hope our cleaning guide on tarnished jewelry was helpful! For more jewelry care tips, check out our jewelry cleaning guide for overall advice on jewelry maintenance.

Erin Smith

Erin enjoys empowering fellow jewelry lovers with the knowledge and tools to care for their jewelry and keep it sparkling like the day they purchased it.

Read more about Erin on her author page

Erin Smith