Preventing and Removing Tarnish: How to Clean a Chain Necklace
Be honest: when was the last time you cleaned your jewelry? It's easy to forget to scrub our favorite pieces, but research suggests this may come back to bite us. One study even found that a ring, watch, and earring worn for seven days picked up 428 times more germs than a toilet seat!
Constant exposure to lotions, moisture, sweat, and other factors can be harsh on the metal finish of your favorite necklace.
That's why knowing how to clean a chain necklace is so crucial. Not only can this keep germs at bay, but it can also help maintain the beauty of your pieces. Even better, it may extend the lifespan of your treasured jewelry.
If you're a little behind on your regular cleanings and you don't know where to start, we've got you covered. Here's what you should know about basic chain jewelry care.
How to Clean a Chain Necklace by Metal Type
Different metals often need different care. It's always a smart idea to grab a specialized cleaning solution for whatever type of metal jewelry you own.
However, if you don't have the right jewelry cleaner, there are still plenty of solutions to try on your own at home. Depending on the type of metal in your chain, you should clean it using the following tactics:
Gold necklaces are easy to clean with detergent and water. Grab a mild, non-abrasive detergent or dish soap and add it to some warm water. Soak your chain in the solution for a few minutes, then pull it out for cleaning.
You should use a jewelry cleaning cloth for this, but you can also grab a microfiber cloth instead. Rub the chain with gentle strokes, then rinse the soap away with clean water and pat the necklace dry.
Silver and Sterling Silver Chains
Silver and sterling silver sometimes need a bit of extra attention to prevent tarnishing. You can use the water and detergent method above a start, but silver is also durable enough for further cleaning tactics.
You can create a baking soda solution by adding a bit of warm water until the baking soda forms a paste. Grab an extra soft toothbrush for cleaning, then rinse the necklace and pat it dry.
Gold- or Silver-Plated Chains
Plated jewelry needs a delicate touch. Keep in mind that the plating on this jewelry is often thin, so abrasive solutions and harsh scrubbing can wear it away.
Instead, try soaking this jewelry in a detergent and water or vinegar and water solution without scrubbing. Use your jewelry cleaning cloth to wipe it down and remove any grime.
This strategy is also great for "fake" jewelry chains, or chains designed to look as if they're made of metal or gold. The finish on these pieces often requires gentle cleansing to keep it from wearing away.
Copper and Brass Chains
Both of these metals can take a bit more abrasion than the ones above if needed.
Start with a gentle detergent and water solution. If that doesn't work, mix a paste using salt and vinegar for extra cleaning power.
Additional Cleaning Tactics
If you're struggling to clean your jewelry, there are a few additional strategies that may help you deal with specific problems.
If you have long hair, you might struggle to get tangles of hair out of your chain necklace. This can be especially tricky if the chain is small or dainty, as it can be hard to pull the hair out without breaking or damaging the chain.
One easy way to avoid this is by using hair removal cream. Dabbing a bit of this cream onto the knot of hair in your chain for a few minutes can cause the hair to break down, making it easier to work out with your fingers or a soft cloth. Be sure to rinse the necklace afterward to remove any remaining cream.
Cuticle scissors are also a great way to get rid of knots caught in your chain. You'll need to have patience to cut the hair away with these small scissors, but it's a safe way to get the hair out without harming the necklace.
Silver jewelry is prone to darkening over time. Fortunately, you can revive tarnishing with the right cleaning solutions.
Soaking your jewelry in vinegar and water can sometimes help. If not, line a pan or bowl with aluminum foil, and combine equal parts salt and baking soda within it.
Place your silver chain into this solution. Next, heat a cup of water and pour it in, letting the solution bubble. The chemical reaction can help remove dirt and tarnish.
You can also consider using a specialized, ammonia-free cleaning solution like SilverMate to revive silver that has been sitting around for a while.
Chain Cleaning Mistakes to Avoid
There's plenty of advice online about cleaning your jewelry, but not all of it is trustworthy! Even if you're dealing with deep-set grime and tarnishing, you'll want to avoid a few harmful cleaning tactics:
Not Knowing the Metal
As we've already mentioned, different metals need different cleaning solutions. Gold, for example, isn't durable enough to withstand some of the abrasive cleaning tactics you can try on sterling silver.
Treating all of your chain necklaces the same is a recipe for disaster and heartbreak! If you aren't careful, you may scrub away your chain's finishing or damage it beyond repair.
Using a Toothbrush
Certain types of jewelry, like sterling silver, can take a very gentle scrubbing. However, many online articles will recommend a toothbrush for any type of chain.
Don't fall for this advice. Toothbrushes are far too abrasive for cleaning most chains, especially small or delicate ones.
Boiling Your Chain
All metals can take a bit of heat, but not for extended periods. Boiling your jewelry might seem like a good idea in theory, but you won't want to expose them to hot water for long. Even worse, letting your jewelry stay in contact with the hot metal bottom of a pot can cause warping and damage.
Soaking It in Bleach
Bleach may be great for household cleaning, but it's far too harsh for your jewelry. Advocates for bleaching jewelry claim that it helps break down tarnishing or grime, which is true. However, bleach may also break down the surface of your favorite jewelry chain!
How Often to Clean Your Chain Necklace
Regular cleaning can keep your chain necklace in great condition. It can also help you avoid tarnishing and a buildup of dirt or grime. However, how do you know how often to clean your favorite pieces?
The answer depends on how often you wear them.
If you wear your chain necklace each day, a weekly or bi-weekly cleaning is a good idea. This can help you rinse away any buildup of grime or your skin's natural oils.
You should also do a bi-annual cleaning of all of your chain necklaces, including pieces you only wear every once in a while. These pieces tend to be cleaner than your daily jewelry and don't need frequent scrubbing.
How to Keep Your Chain Necklace Clean
Once you've cleaned your jewelry and you're enjoying your new, shining necklace, you might wonder how to keep the item clean. What steps can you take to avoid a buildup of grime or discoloration?
Reconsider Your Daily Habits
Showering in your jewelry may not seem like a big deal, but it means your chain necklace gets repeated exposure to moisture, soaps, shampoos, and abrasive washcloths or sponges. This can be harsh on the metal finish, so try to take off your necklace before you shower each day.
If you often apply lotion, oil, or sunscreen on your neck, be careful around your chain necklace. Buildups of these substances can wear down the metal over time. When possible, apply these substances first and give them a chance to absorb into your skin before you put your chain necklace on.
Store Your Chain Necklace Properly
Your choice for jewelry storage matters. Don't just throw your favorite statement necklaces onto the nearest shelf!
Instead, look for a place out of direct sunlight, and make sure the area is at room temperature. Low humidity is also ideal to help avoid tarnishing.
Consider getting a jewelry box with felt dividers and drawers. These storage options not only help you organize your chains, but they can also protect them from light, dust, and debris.
Invest in Your Jewelry Care
If your favorite jewelry pieces hold a special place in your heart, knowing how to clean a chain necklace is crucial. Regular but gentle cleaning can help extend the lifespan of your necklaces while maintaining their beautiful finishes. Make sure to commit to a regular cleaning schedule to see the best results!
At Roma Designer Jewelry, we love offering our clients pieces they'll love for years to come. Whether you're looking for a high-quality necklace with an adjustable chain or a stunning choker with delicate gold links, we offer it all. Be sure to check out our jewelry collections or contact us today with questions.