Will Hand Sanitizer Wreck Your Ring?
Updated: Jul 23
As you hunker down, self-quarantine, or shelter in place, you are likely doing everything possible to keep your own home environment clean and disinfected.
Good for you. That’s exactly what we all need to be doing right now, which is why we wanted to send out this special notice about which common cleaners and disinfectants are completely safe for jewelry, and which ones you’d be better off removing your rings before using.
Good news here! Hand Sanitizer, which is primarily alcohol based, is absolutely fine for precious metals including gold, platinum, titanium, silver, and plated metals, such as the rhodium plating found on white gold rings. Not only will your mounting be fine, but so will your diamond. Hand sanitizer will not harm hard gemstones, like diamonds, in any way.
However, if you wear any pearl, opal, or moonstone rings or bracelets, those should come off before you reach for this cleanser. Soft stones can be degraded by the harsh alcohol base of hand sanitizer. Not only can sanitizer scratch or damage their surface, but other chemicals in the cleaner can actually dull their luster and shine.
Dish Soap & Hand Soap
Wash your hands under warm water for 20 seconds at a time as often as you’d like. Then do it one more time just for good measure.
There is absolutely no worry of your jewelry being degraded by basic hand or dish soap and warm water.
Vinegar and Water:
Vinegar is acidic. That means it has the potential to rough up the surface of softer stones, and to damage plated metals. While your diamond will fair fine, our recommendation is to remove your jewelry for this kind of deep clean. That’s especially true with heirloom pieces, as they’re more likely to have plated metal components, or to have incorporated softer stones like opals, pearls and jade.
Home solutions can be hard to get right, and that means you never know exactly how acidic your vinegar/ water mixture is. Cleaning is important, and vinegar has been a cheap go-to disinfectant for centuries, so use it. Just be sure to take those special, heirloom pieces off first.
Bleach is a form of chlorine. It is highly corrosive, and even when diluted, it simply isn’t a friend to precious metals like gold and silver. White gold likes bleach even less. A lot of spray cleaners, such as bathroom cleaners and kitchen/stove cleaners, are actually bleach-based, chlorinated cleansers. Because these tend to be sprayed on surfaces, then scrubbed with a sponge, the cleansers come into surprisingly close contact with your hands, and therefore your rings and possible even bracelets.
In a surprisingly short time, bleach can do irreparable damage to the metals used in gold alloys. Because these cleansers could splash your jewelry without your noticing, they could have the opportunity to remain on the surface of your rings for longer than you think.
Therefore, if you’re using bleach of any kind, it really is better to be safe than sorry. Take your rings off. Do your cleaning. Then wash your hands with plain soap and water to remove any residual bleach residue (this is best for your skin, too!) before you put your rings back on.
Ammonia is like the annoying neighbor that you just can’t get rid of. It has been hanging around jewelry for way to long, and jewelry has never actually liked it.
People started using ammonia to clean precious metals way back in the 1800’s, and to this day, there are websites that claim ammonia is good to bring a sparkle back to gold, silver and platinum. But here’s the thing, it’s no better at removing grime than simple dish soap is, and yet it is absolutely caustic in comparison. Ammonia may be fine for mopping floors, but like many other harsh cleaners, it will absolutely destroy softer stones.
The fumes are also terrible for you if inhaled, and that’s the last thing you need to worry about in the face of a respiratory-based pandemic…
A lot of standard home cleaning products, from multi-surface cleaners to glass cleaners, contain ammonia, which means we all use it from time-to-time. Just be sure to remove your jewelry first, and good practice with any of these harsher chemicals is to crack a window, or use them in well-ventilated spaces.
Good luck, stay safe, and reach out to us anytime if you would like a bottle of our entirely- friendly, entirely free, jewelry cleaner. We may not have spare toilet paper rolls, but you can bet that our jewelry cleaner is always well-stocked.