How Rings Get Dirty
Your ring is a part of you, it does everything you do, goes everywhere you go, so that means… it can get pretty dirty. But you wash your hands all the time, right? Well… there's a lot of little places in a ring that can’t get washed quite as easily as the smooth surface of your hands.
One of the big issues with dirt packed in your ring is that abrasive material (dirt especially) can end up scratching the gold in your ring. While diamonds are tough little guys and won’t scratch from a bit of sand or similar substances, it can take a toll on your soft metal. These scratches don’t go away and will have to be polished off or even re-plated (adding another new layer of gold) by a jeweler. It can also cause the metal to discolor over time from the pH of your skin and is tough to bring back its shiny brilliant self without a jeweler's help.
There's a lot of buildup that can get packed into your forever ring - dirt, lotion, sunscreen, makeup, even layers of dead skin cells (ew! I know right?) that can accumulate in the little crevasses of the metal and also the prongs holding your diamond in. You gotta clean that gunk out...even if you don’t see it all the time.
Speaking of dead skin cells, bacteria loves to feed on these shedding layers and that is a big bad situation. Bacteria in a tight, non-airy space for hours, weeks, months at a time is a big no-no. This can cause irritation or even a rash if you don’t clean your ring semi-often. Now, this isn’t something you have to do every day, but once a week will suffice. We’ll go over the dos and don’ts of cleaning and easy upkeep to keep it sparkling and clean for the long haul.
At Home Cleaning
There are so many options for cleaning your ring - at home cleansers and chemical mixes, you can even google do-it-yourself mixes with anything from ammonia to baking soda to salt. However, sometimes simple is best - soap and water and a good ole’ toothbrush.
You have the option of soaking the ring or just giving it a good scrub and then going on about your day. We’ll start with the soaking, just in case you have some extra time to make your ring sparkle. Before we get into it, there's a rule, and this is a big rule, do not, and I repeat, DO NOT wash your ring IN the sink. Unless you have a drain catch (even if you do, better to be safe than very, very sorry), I will save you the heartbreak and tell you to wash it in a bowl of water and not directly where your ring can fall down the drain. You’ve heard the horror stories, a poor lady takes her ring off just for a second and BAM. Down the drain it goes. So unless you're also a very confident plumber with really good luck, just get a bowl. Save yourself the heartbreak.
Okay, PSA over- back to it.
So you got a bowl because you’re a safe, responsible ring owner, fill it with some warm water, and add some regular old dish soap (Dawn is my fave). That's all you need, and soak for about 20-40 minutes. Then we have step 2.
So your ring has had a nice bubble bath, now we gotta scrub. For this, we’re going to use a toothbrush. I’ve found the best option for this is a child’s toothbrush because the bristles are very soft and it has a small head, so it's easier to get into the nooks and crannies of our ring. Make sure this is a clean toothbrush because if it already has toothpaste on it this will be very abrasive and cause other issues. We’ll go into this again in the don’ts part of this article in a second.
Make sure the brush is wet, you can use some of the soak water for this, and add more soap directly to the brush if needed. Then, just scrub-a-dub-dub! Keep in mind, the surface of the diamond will be easy to clean, but remember under the diamond it is just as, if not more important, to get clean. When light is reflecting back, grime under the diamond can ruin the reflections back and be a real buzz-kill.
Make sure you’re brushing all the side-stones as well, you’ll realize how much sparkle they may have lost as these are usually the most noticeable to lose their shine.
Once you do a good scrub, rinse off the ring and take a look, if you need to go back for another round, no problem. Nothing you’re using or doing is harming the gold or the diamond at all. After you’re done, inspect your ring. Make sure there are no side stones that got loose or even fell out. But don’t worry, if they did the stones will be in that handy-dandy bowl we made sure to use.
If you have the time and patience, try to clean your ring at least once a week. This will keep everything dazzling and clean and your finger healthy.
A few good tips on keeping it clean - make sure to take it off when applying makeup with your fingers, using sunscreen (No UV’s hittin' this skin today, no ma’am!) or lotion.
A good investment to is to get a chain necklace or ring-bowl to keep it in while you aren’t wearing it to keep it safe and in place. (Few things are worse than the panic you feel when you're afraid you've lost your diamond ring).
While home upkeep is important, you want to try to get your ring professionally cleaned at least once a year, but shoot for twice.
There are a few reasons for this:
One of the ways jewelers clean is using ultrasonic machines. This is a machine that uses ultrasonic sound waves to vibrate every little bit of dust and oil and ick out of that ring. However, a jeweler MUST inspect your ring under a loupe (mini magnifying glass) to make sure all the prongs (the little arms holding your diamond in place) are tight, otherwise, those vibrations can loosen your stones and they can fall out. Hence the importance of making sure they are secure before the wave bath for your ring. This is also one of the reasons you should have your ring professionally cleaned twice a year, think of it as a cleaning and checkup (like the dentist, you gotta do the upkeep whether you have a cavity or not). If you don’t get it checked you’re at a risk of losing a stone somewhere that isn’t as easy to find as in the bottom of the cleaning water, home or at a jeweler.
The other way professional jewelers can clean your ring is with high-pressure steam, but this is more of a surface clean, so it'll get the dazzle back to your diamond, but an ultrasonic clean is the real clean-slate (pun obviously intended) clean.
If you didn’t get your ring from a jewelry store, or even built your own on our site, you can talk to a local jeweler about what they’d charge for these checks and cleanings. Usually, they will be happy to help keep your diamond safe and clean for little to no charge.
So now you know what to do, but there's a lot of things you may read about that you should not do.
Toothpaste may make your pearly-whites pearly-white, but it can really mess with the metal in your ring. Toothpaste is very abrasive and can scratch soft metal and leave residue and small particles in the setting of your ring.
Baking soda/salt/bleach/harsh household cleaners: None of these are good to use either, they are either abrasive or can cause chemical damage to your ring, diamond and all.
Remember, simple soap is the way to go!