How to Clean Your Engagement & Wedding Ring

It’s hard to overstate the beauty of the just-cleaned sparkle of a diamond wedding ring. And daily wear and enjoyment is going to take its toll on this sparkle. But you don’t have to live with a dull and lifeless ring until you can take a trip to the jewelers for a professional clean. You can clean your ring at home, restoring that gorgeous shine is a simple process with materials you likely already have around the house.

How to Clean Your Rings at Home

Cleaning your ring at home is a simple process you can repeat every week if you like. The materials and process used are incredibly mild, so there’s no concern over whether this will affect your jewelry if done too often. In fact, more frequent cleaning will help keep at bay the higher levels of build-up that would require a professional cleaning.

Your wedding and engagement rings are especially prone to building up layers of dirt, oil, and residue because of their daily wear. This also turns them into a breeding ground for bacteria, which can cause all manner of concerns like skin irritation, metal discoloration, and scratching of stones and metal. So as you can see, setting aside some time to regularly clean your ring has a lot of benefits.

To get started, you’ll want to gather a few common materials:

Soap - Dishwashing or hand soap is perfect to use as the cleanser. These types of soaps are usually mild, but you’ll also want to avoid using anything that is too heavily scented as that could indicate it has some harsher chemicals in the mixture. You’ll also want to avoid anything that is moisturizing as that will leave a film on your ring.

Small bowl - You don’t need anything too large, just be sure that it is clean and free of any residue. Never do this in a sink, even if you have plugged the drain - it’s simply too risky.

Warm water - You’ll want to use very warm water. It needs to be warm enough so that it dissolves dirt, oil, and residue stuck to the ring, but not too warm as to be uncomfortable to the touch.

Soft toothbrush - A clean, new, very soft toothbrush is the perfect tool to gently remove any build up on the ring. You do want a new toothbrush for this task, do not use an old one. A used toothbrush is likely to have frayed bristles that could scratch the stone or metal, and will not be sufficient at buffing off the dirt.

Cotton or microfiber cloth - Unless you plan on letting your ring air dry, you’ll need a lint-free cloth. Avoid using paper towels or toilet paper as they could scratch the ring or leave small pieces of paper pulp behind.

To start the process, fill the bowl with water and add a few drops of soap. The watery mixture does not need to be extra soapy to create bubbles. Agitate the water slightly to activate the soap and gently place the ring into the bowl. Allow it to soak for 20 to 40 minutes then gently brush the stone and metal with the toothbrush.

There’s no need to use strong pressure or a harder scrubbing motion. Once the ring has soaked for a length of time, the debris has loosened enough to be removed with gentle strokes of the brush. Rinse the ring under warm water and allow it to air dry on the cloth or gently pat the ring dry with the cloth - do not rub or wipe. As you’ll see with the following examples and our quick video illustrating the process, this method of cleaning is highly effective at restoring that sparkle!

That’s all you have to do for the proper care and upkeep for a clean engagement or wedding ring. It’s also important to know that you should never use anything other than these ingredients to clean your ring on your own. Any advice that calls for using an over-the-counter cleaning solution or household cleaners that contain bleach, chlorine, or acetone are simply wrong and pose a danger of damaging your jewelry.

This method of cleaning will work for all types of jewelry no matter the metal or stone type. However, it is most effective at cleaning the stone and bringing it back to its former luster. If the metal isn’t just dirty, and has become tarnished or discolored, you’ll want to seek the advice of a professional jeweler to remedy that.

There are some center stone settings that are difficult for this method of cleaning to address. For example, it’s less effective for stones that are covered with a basket. Our Luvinia (at right) is one such example. The basket prevents direct access to the underside of the diamond, which means a brush would not be an effective tool to use for cleaning. In this case, the only way to clean it is to use an ultrasonic cleaner; various home friendly models can be found on Amazon.  We use a bigger and more powerful version of these units in our studio, but most clients are happy with the ones offered on Amazon.  

The only caveat to this machine is that it vibrates the ring during cleaning as part of the process of loosening the grime. It does this by sending many ultrasonic vibrations through the water in a matter of minutes to create the vigorous jostling the ring requires to get clean.

This rapid movement can accelerate the process of small little diamonds falling out of the setting (this happens when there is movement in the accent diamonds arising from everyday wear). For smaller diamonds, especially in a pavé setting, it will be impossible to the naked eye to see if any diamonds have loosened. You likely won’t notice they have loosened until they fall out completely.

For this reason, we recommend only monthly cleaning with this machine, especially for rings that have many small pavé diamond settings. The exception to this rule is with solitaires or three-stone designs where the stone settings are much larger and stronger, and therefore not susceptible to warping from everyday wear.

Ring Cleaning with an Ultrasonic Cleaner

Have questions? We're happy to help.

Don't know where or how to start? Our guide will show you how to budget, hone in on a style, choose a stone and more.

Diamonds need not be complicated. Learn about the difference between lab and natural, cuts vs. shapes and how to choose the best diamond for your dream ring.

Colored gemstones can be one way to create a unique engagement ring. Learn the pros and cons of different gemstones.