How to Clean 18k Gold Plated Jewelry (3 Easy Ways That Won’t Cause Damage)

How to clean 18k gold plated jewelry

18k gold plated jewelry has the same rich colour as solid gold at a fraction of the cost. However, it is more delicate and should be cleaned gently to avoid scratching or wearing down the gold plating. 

Use white vinegar, an ammonia solution, or rubbing alcohol to clean 18k gold plated jewelry safely. Each of these methods will clean your jewelry and restore its shine without damaging the fragile gold plating.

Table of Contents

How to Clean Gold Plated Jewelry with Vinegar

Things You’ll Need:

  • White vinegar
  • Small bowl
  • Toothbrush

Instructions:

  1. Fill a small bowl with white vinegar. Use a full-strength vinegar, as opposed to a watered-down solution. If you don’t have white vinegar, apple cider vinegar will also work. 
  • Note that this method should not be used for jewelry that contains gemstones, as the vinegar can cause discolouration to the fragile gems. Instead, opt for a gentler cleaning method.
  1. Soak your jewelry in the vinegar for 15 minutes. This gives time for the vinegar to dissolve any oils and grime that have built up on the gold plating. Set a timer and wait for the vinegar to work its magic. 
  2. Scrub off any remaining dirt with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Scrub gently as gold-plated jewelry is easy to scratch. Use the toothbrush to get to those hard to reach places, such between the claws in rings or in delicate carvings. Don’t forget to clean the back of the jewelry (the side that touches your skin), as this side is most prone to collecting oils. 
  • Avoid using sharp objects, such as paper clips or pins to remove dirt. This can leave scratches in your jewelry.
  1. Rinse your jewelry under warm water. Put the plug in (important!) and thoroughly rinse your jewelry under a gentle stream of water. This prevents the vinegar from causing discolouration. 
  2. Dry your jewelry with a microfibre cloth. Remove all visible traces of water. This helps to prevent the gold from tarnishing and makes it look shiny. If you don’t have a microfibre cloth, a soft cotton cloth will also work.
how to clean gold plated jewelry with vinegar

Cleaning Gold Plated Jewelry Using Ammonia

Things You’ll Need

  • 1/4  cup (59mL) of ammonia
  • ¼ cup (59mL) of cold water
  • Warm water
  • Small bowl
  • Polishing Cloth

Directions:

  1. Mix ¼ cup (59mL) of ammonia with ¼ cup (59mL) of cold water in a bowl. The ammonia will help to break down any grime and oils. If you don’t have any ammonia at home, it is widely available online and in hardware stores. 
  • This method is suitable for 18k gold plated jewelry that doesn’t have any gemstones. Gemstones are incredibly fragile and many will get marked or discoloured from the ammonia.  If your jewelry has any gemstones, choose a gentler jewelry cleaning method.
  • This recipe makes ½ cup (118mL) of cleaning solution.If you have a larger piece of jewelry, simply double the solution so that you can comfortably submerge your pieces of jewelry. 
  1. Leave your jewelry to soak in the solution for 30 minutes. Completely submerge your jewelry in the ammonia solution. Then, set a timer and allow the ammonia to work its magic.
  • Make sure to keep the solution out of reach from children and pets.
  1. Rinse off the ammonia solution with warm water. Put the plug in (!) and rinse your jewelry under running water. Rotate your jewelry to remove the cleaner from the different sides of your piece. 
  2. Dry your jewelry with a microfibre cloth. Gently pat dry any delicate elements and then use the cloth to polish any smooth surfaces. This helps to restore the shine to the gold plating. 
  • Avoid using a polishing cloth, as this can damage the gold plating. 

Cleaning 18k Gold Plated Jewelry with Rubbing Alcohol

Can you clean gold plated jewelry with rubbing alcohol? The short answer is, yes. Although, there are a few precautions to follow in order to protect the gold plating.

Rubbing alcohol is an effective cleaner. When used cautiously, it is a quick and effective way to remove the greasy film from your jewelry. 

If your jewelry has any gemstones, avoid using rubbing alcohol as it can discolor the stones and break down the glue that holds them in place. Instead, opt for a more gentle jewelry cleaning method. 

Things You’ll Need:

  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Warm Water
  • Microfibre Cloth

Instructions:

  1. Coat your jewelry with rubbing alcohol. If your piece of jewelry is small, submerge it in a small bowl. If you have a larger piece, pour the rubbing alcohol over. Avoid using rubbing alcohol that is labeled as “moisturizing”, as this can leave a greasy layer on your jewelry.
  2. Rinse off the rubbing alcohol. Don’t leave your jewelry to soak in the rubbing alcohol as this can cause the gold plating to wear down. Instead, wash it liberally in running water once you have coated it in alcohol. 
  3. Dry it thoroughly with a soft cloth. Dry your jewelery straight away to prevent oxidation. Use a microfibre cloth (or similar soft fabric) to remove all moisture from the gold plating. Use a cotton pad to remove any remaining water.

How to Clean Gold Plated Jewelry That Turned Black?

It is a quick and painless exercise to remove tarnish at home.  

Simply wipe the tarnished areas with warm soapy water using a soft cloth. Then, rinse them in water (don’t forget to put the plug in first!). Finish by drying your jewelry thoroughly with a microfibre cloth. This will help to restore the shine and rich gold colour of your jewelry.

How to Clean Gold Plated Jewelry That Turned Black

How long does 18k Gold Plated Jewelry Last?

The 18k gold plating generally lasts about 2-years. However, its lifespan greatly depends on how well you protect it and how often you wear it. It also depends on how thick the plating is. 

How to Make 18k Gold Plated Jewelry Last Longer

  • Keep it dry
  • Keep it out of the sun
  • Dry it when it gets wet
  • Take it off when you apply lotions, hand sanitizer and perfumes
  • Remove it when you exercise
  • Take it off when working in the home or garden
  • Store your jewelry in a case when you travel

With good care, gold plated jewelry can last a number of years. Once the gold plating begins to fade and loses its gold shine, you can get it re-plated at your local jeweler. 

Can Gold Plated Jewelry Get Wet?

Gold plated jewelry is quite fragile and is easily damaged. Avoid getting your gold plating wet, as this can cause the surface to wear down and tarnish. 

Take your gold plated jewelry off before you shower, swim and exercise to keep it in condition. This will help to extend its life and maintain its rich color. 

If it does get wet, don’t stress – occasional water exposure is unlikely to do significant damage. Simply dry it as soon as practical. 

Does Gold Plated Jewelry Turn Green?

Gold plated jewelry that contains nickel can turn green when the gold plating turns green. When nickel is exposed to the air and moisture it oxidizes and turns green. This can also leave a green pigment on your skin. 

Before buying jewelry, ask if the piece contains nickel. There are many nickel-free options, so consider asking around before buying. 

If you already have a piece of gold jewelry with nickel, keep it as clean and dry as possible. This will help to reduce the discolouration and prolong its life. 

does gold plated jewelry turn green

Does 18k Gold Plated Tarnish?

Yes, over time 18k gold plated jewelry will wear down and tarnish. Whilst this is inevitable, you can slow down the process by taking good of your jewelry. Always take your jewelry off before you apply lotion or perfume, don’t wear it in the pool or ocean, and remove it when you exercise or shower.

Read our guide on how to restore the shine to your tarnished jewelry at home.

Can You Wear 18K Gold Plated in the Shower?

18k gold plated jewelry is incredibly fragile and the gold coating can easily be scratched. Exposing your jewelry to water and soap will cause the gold plating to wear down faster and cause it to tarnish. Prolong the life of your jewelry by taking it off each time you shower. 

Does Gold Plated Jewelry Fade?

Yes. Over time, the gold plating will start to wear down. This causes your jewelry to lose its rich gold color and become faded and dull. 

On average, gold plated jewelry lasts 2-years before it starts to fade. You can prolong its life further by keeping it clean and dry. 

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