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How to Clean a Gold Necklace at Home

How to Clean a Gold Chain

One of the reasons why gold is such a popular metal for jewelry is that out of all metals, gold is the most non-reactive and does not rust or get tarnished. Despite its resistance towards oxidation, you may notice that your gold necklace looks a bit cloudy or glazed-over. This is totally normal, and fortunately, restoring your gold jewelry back to looking new isn’t difficult.

Many people are buying gold chain necklaces right now, due to them being one of the best jewelry styles for stylish everyday wear. That said, whether you’ve just purchased a gold necklace, or you’ve had one for a while, knowing how to clean a gold chain at home is quite simple and highly useful.

Here’s our gold necklace care guide, with tips on how to clean a gold necklace and how to store gold jewelry.

How to Clean a Gold Chain Necklace
  • All you need to do it will cost you up to $20
  • The process will take about 30 minutes

    Whether you’re looking for how to clean yellow gold chains, how to clean rose gold necklaces, how to clean an 18K, 14K, or 10K gold necklaces, how to clean white gold chain, or how to clean a gold diamond necklace or another gemstone necklace—this water and/or soap cleaning method is safe for these gold necklaces.

    • Although gold filled and gold plated jewelry requires more care in general than solid gold or hollow gold jewelry, this method is safe on these types of jewelry as well.
    • If you have a vintage gold necklace, take extra care when handling it.

    Before you begin, you’ll want to assess how much dirt buildup you have. If your gold necklace is really dirty, you’ll want to go ahead and take it to a jeweler to clean, as it may require expertise.

    Necessary Items:
    • nitric acid
    • ceramic tile
    • magnet

    Soak the Gold Necklace in Water

    Soaking your gold necklace is the first step when it comes to how to clean a gold necklace at home. This step will make the rest of the process much easier.

    If there are no diamonds or gemstones: First, soak your gold necklace for 3 hours in lukewarm water. If your necklace is very cloudy or dirty, use a soap-and-water solution, consisting of 10-parts warm water and 2-parts dish soap. If your necklace isn’t that dirty, you don’t need soap. Only use soap as needed.

    After three hours, take it out and rinse it underwater. A lot of guides say to soak a gold necklace for 20 minutes in soapy water, but three hours will dislodge a lot more dirt particles.

    If you have a gold-plated or gold-filled diamond or gemstone necklace: If the necklace is gold-filled or gold-plated, or fake gold, do not soak it in water. You should use a damp cloth to wipe down the necklace instead. This is because if the gold plating wears off and water gets trapped in the setting, it may rust, and you could lose your gemstones.

    Clean with a Soft Brush

    After you’re done soaking your gold necklace, scrub it gently with a very soft brush under the running water. Rinse under clean water and blot dry with a cloth. The key is to find a small, soft-bristled brush. Avoid the following brushes when cleaning a gold chain:

    • Avoid brushes made of horsehair, wire, or any other kinds of stiff bristles.
    • Don’t use straw cleaners for cleaning diamond jewelry either.
    • Don’t use toothbrushes with stiff bristles.
    What you can use:
    • Simple, soft-bristled children’s toothbrushes
    • Makeup brushes
    • Paintbrushes

    If you own a gold necklace, it’s good to have a children’s toothbrush on hand to clean it. You can reuse the toothbrush any time you clean it.

    Rinse the Necklace Again with Water

    This is a key step that some people commonly forget to do. Gold is particularly sensitive to soap residue which can build on the surface of the necklace and dull its luster. You need to rinse the gold necklace in water to remove residual soap from it, otherwise, it could become cloudy again.

    When you are finished using the soft toothbrush on the chain, place your gold chain into a strainer, if you have one. Otherwise, hold it carefully under the faucet. Then, run some warm water over the chain (and/or strainer). Rinse until you can no longer feel or see any soapy residue.

    Dry the Gold Necklace with a Gentle Cloth

    After cleaning the gold chain necklace with a brush and rinsing it, dry the gold jewelry using a clean dry cloth. The cloth should be soft and clean—if it’s a rough brush, or has particles of dirt on it, it could scratch the gold. If you have diamonds on your necklace, do not let it air-dry—this process can leave visible hard water spots from the minerals in the water on your diamond pieces. If this happens, you will have to repeat the process all over again to get rid of the water spots

    Pro tip: It’s a good idea to purchase some cleaning and polishing cloths specific to jewelry to use for regular gold necklace cleaning.


Cleaning Methods if the Necklace is Still Dirty

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If you’ve finished cleaning your gold necklace with the above method and find that your gold chain is still cloudy or dirty, you may wish to use the following methods to finish getting out the grime. This first method is safe for both gold necklaces with and without diamonds or other gemstones.

Step #1: Fill a Bowl with Water, Baking Soda, and Dish Soap

Add one cup of cool water to a bowl. Then, add a teaspoon of baking soda to the bowl. After that, add one teaspoon of any dish soap to the bowl. Next, thoroughly mix the ingredients until they form a and the mixture is fully combined.

Step #2: Soak the Gold Necklace in the Bowl

Take your gold chain or gold necklace and place it in the bowl for 20 minutes. After this, you’ll scrub it carefully with a soft-bristled children’s toothbrush or other soft brush.

Step #3: Rinse and Dry, Soak Again

As mentioned before, gold is sensitive to soap residue and you don’t want it to build on the surface of your necklace. You need to rinse the gold necklace in water, making sure to carefully remove all of the residual soap and baking soda from it. You may choose to place the gold chain in a strainer.

If it has diamonds or gemstones, make sure to get all of the residue out from under the gems. This means that it’s a good idea to soak it in the water again, for about 20 minutes, and give it one last rinse. Afterward, dry the gold chain necklace thoroughly with a soft cloth. As previously mentioned, if you have diamonds on your necklace, do not let it air-dry or you may need to start over to get rid of them.

Ammonia Cleaning Method for Gold and Diamond Necklaces

ammonia cleaner

If your gold necklace is still cloudy, or your diamonds aren’t as brilliant as they used to be, you can use the ammonia cleaning method on your necklace. Avoid using this method with fake gold such as gold-plated or gold-filled jewelry. This would be a fine method to use on something like a solid gold rope chain, a hollow-gold necklace, iced-out gold chains, a diamond pendant necklace, etc.

Step #1: Mix ¼ Cup of Ammonia with 1 Cup of Water in a Bowl

Add one cup of ammonia (this includes Windex or other window cleaners—read the ingredients to see if it’s ammonia. DON’T use other harsh chemicals, such as bleach, chlorine, or acetone) to one cup of lukewarm water. After mixing the ammonia and water solution, simply place the piece of diamond jewelry or gold necklace into the bowl to soak in the solution for 20–30 minutes.

Step #2: Brush Gently, Rinse, Soak and Dry

After the necklace has soaked in the ammonia solution for 20–30 minutes, brush it with a soft toothbrush to dislodge any trapped dirt.

When brushing the diamonds, make sure to avoid brushing too vigorously to prevent the gems from becoming dislodged from their setting. After this step, rinse off the solution until there is no remaining residue or dirt. Then, soak it in plain water for about 20 minutes.

Then, dry the gold necklace with a soft cloth thoroughly. As previously mentioned, if you have diamonds on your necklace, do not let it air-dry or you may need to start over to get rid of those pesky spots.

Other Cleaning Tips for Gold and Diamond Jewelry

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Here are some additional tips for taking care of your gold jewelry and cleaning your gold diamond chains.

  • Never use harsh chemicals: such as chlorine, bleach, nail polish remover, acetone, or detergent with abrasive chemicals.
  • Don’t clean diamond chains with alcohol: If you have a diamond chain or other gemstone necklace, use one of the cleaning methods we mentioned that is safe for these types of gold necklaces. You can use 91% isopropyl alcohol on plain gold jewelry, but cleaning with alcohol is not recommended for diamond necklaces or other gemstone jewelry.
  • Only clean with soap as needed: Don’t overdo it with the soap. Only clean your jewelry with soap as needed when it’s visibly dirty or gathering a patina. If you keep up with regular cleaning, you won’t need to use soap on your gold necklace as often.
  • Clean your gold jewelry often: Whenever your gold jewelry is exposed to sweat, perfume, lotion, sand, dust, etc—clean it. Keeping up with regular cleaning in with just water and a soft brush will save you time in the long run when it comes to keeping your gold necklace shiny. How often should you clean gold jewelry? We recommend cleaning gold jewelry at least once a month.
  • Don’t settle for rough cloths or brushes: No matter how dirty your gold necklace gets, if you don’t have the proper materials, wait to clean it until you do. Don’t use chemicals that you’re uncertain about. Always follow the gold jewelry cleaning guidelines exactly to avoid damaging your diamonds or gold links.
  • Don’t rely on ultrasonic cleaners: avoid just throwing your gold necklace in an ultrasonic cleaner—this does not always work thoroughly, and if your chain has diamonds, it could disrupt the gemstone from its setting.
  • Store your gold necklace properly: Knowing how to store your gold jewelry will prevent it from getting dull when you’re not wearing it. Here’s how to properly store women's or men's gold chains and gold necklaces:
    • After you’re done wearing and cleaning your gold necklace for the day, put it somewhere safe, such as a jewelry box.
    • A clean, dry, fabric-lined jewelry box is the best option for storing gold necklaces.
    • If you don’t have a jewelry box, save use a phone screen cloth or other soft cloth and tear it if needed. Wrap each piece of your jewelry individually and place them somewhere safe.
    • If you store more than one piece of jewelry in a jewelry box, wrap each piece in a soft cloth. Store all pieces of jewelry separately: this prevents necklaces from tangling or scratching each other. This is especially important with diamond jewelry, as diamonds can easily scratch gold and other metals.
  • Schedule a yearly cleaning: All the above tips are great ways for you to clean and take care of your fine gold jewelry at home on a regular basis. However, it is recommended to have your fine gold jewelry professionally cleaned every six months for preventative care. Jewelers can check for loose prongs, tangles, and other damage annually so that you don’t end up breaking your gold necklace.

Final Words of Advice

jewelry on a table

Remember that the purer the gold, the softer the metal. 10K gold, 14K gold, and 18K gold necklaces are stronger than higher karats. It’s important to know what karat number all of your gold jewelry is. You can find this by looking for a quality mark (karat stamp or hallmark).

You want to make sure your gold is real gold (not gold-filled or gold-plated) before cleaning it, as fake gold is more susceptible to damage and it can tarnish. Check out our guide on how to tell if a gold chain is real for help determining if your gold necklace is real gold, or if your diamond necklace has real diamonds.
If you have any questions about any high-quality gold chain necklaces, contact us at ItsHot.com. We’re one of New York City’s choice jewelry stores for many celebrities and fine jewelry customers, and we pride ourselves in our customer service—we have a 1-year warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee on our gold chains and other jewelry.


ItsHot LogoDenis Stepansky
Founder of ItsHot.com

Denis Stepansky is a founder of ItsHot, a diamond jewelry and watches store based in NYC. He has been in the jewelry business for about 20 years and owns such high-end jewelry brands as Luccello and Luxurman. As a jewelry expert, he has citations on well-known magazines and newspapers like Insider and Daily Mail.

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