How to Clean White Gold

White gold wedding rings stacked on a rock.

White gold has become a popular choice for engagement and wedding rings. I have a lot of friends that will only wear gold if it is white, mostly because of the shine of its finish. To maintain its luster, white gold will require regular cleaning to remove dirt, soap and lotion residue, and other oils that can dull its surface. Luckily, cleaning white gold is an easy task. You could take it to a jeweler for professional cleaning, but a good maintenance washing can be done with products that you may already have in your cabinets at home. If you’re going to pay for quality jewelry, spending 20–30 minutes once a month for a decent cleaning is a worthwhile investment. Here are some simple steps on how to clean your white gold.

Steps for Cleaning White Gold

  1. whitegold-1Gather your white gold cleaning supplies. You will need a bowl, warm water, mild dish soap, baking soda, a soft brush, and a microfiber towel. Keep a colander handy, just in case. If you think it’s necessary, you can purchase a cloth designed specifically for polishing jewelry, instead of the microfiber towel. Inspect the jewelry you plan to clean closely, looking for loose gems or damaged prongs. Do this to avoid the panic and heartbreak of realizing that you lost a stone down a drain.
  2. whitegold-2Soak the white gold in a mixture of soap and water.Add a few drops of mild dish soap to some warm water in a bowl and give it a stir. Gently insert your white gold and let it soak for 10–15 minutes to help loosen any buildup. Never use hot water. Set a timer to remind you to take out the jewelry, as leaving it too long could damage some pieces.
  3. whitegold-3Clean your white gold with a soft brush and baking soda. Form a paste by mixing baking soda and a little water together. Apply a little paste, and gently scrub the white gold using a soft brush. You can buy special jewelry cleaning brushes, but a soft toothbrush will suffice. Be careful not to scrub too hard. The last thing you want to do is scratch the surface or wear at the rhodium plating.
  4. whitegold-4Thoroughly rinse the cleaners off the white gold. Rinse your jewelry under a gentle stream of warm water. If any cleaner residue is left to dry, it can dull the appearance of the white gold and attract more dirt. Be extremely careful because this is the step where you can really mess up. To avoid dropping a ring down a drain, a mistake that can take hours to rectify, either block the drain using the stopper or place the jewelry in a colander.
  5. whitegold-5Dry the white gold and buff it with a soft cloth. Drying carefully will remove any leftover cleaner residue and help avoid water spots. Take a soft cloth or microfiber towel, and pat dry the jewelry on one section of the cloth. Make sure to remove any moisture from the crevices. Use another section of the cloth to buff the jewelry, shining it to maximum luster. All that’s left is to sit back and admire the beauty.

Say “I Do,” But Don’t Do This

If your jewelry is not bright and shiny after this cleaning, you may have a different problem that will require a jeweler. White gold is plated with rhodium, a member of the platinum group. Over time, the plating tends to wear, especially in areas that rub against your skin. When this “yellowing” occurs, cleaning will not rectify the problem. A jeweler can properly replate the piece, and restore the finish’s shine and durability. If your white gold is due for a replating, do not get a cheap rhodium dip. An experienced jeweler will replate using an electroplating process.

While rhodium is very durable, there are things you should not do with white gold to preserve its finish. Excessive friction can wear the plating. Store your white gold separately from the rest of your jewelry, to avoid any undue scratches. A soft-lined box would be the best option. Avoid excessive exposure to ammonia and chlorine, as the rhodium plating can be sensitive to these harsh chemicals. So, remove your white gold jewelry before going swimming or performing household chores. Even strong jewelry cleaners may not be appropriate for use on white gold, so be sure to read labels before application.

Green Products for Cleaning White Gold

whitegold-aSparkleSparkle Gold & Gemstone Cleaner. This is a non-toxic cleaner that safely cleans and brightens both white and yellow gold jewelry. SparkleSparkle Gold Cleaner will remove tarnish and grime from rhodium coated jewelry without wearing on the plating. The company prides itself on using clean ingredients to revitalize the sparkle of jewelry.

whitegold-bSeventh Generation Dish Soap. When looking for a great, eco-friendly dish soap to use when doing any cleaning, Seventh Generation soap is a great product. All of Seventh Generation’s products are biodegradable and environmentally friendly. Besides being a healthy choice for your family, it will help loosen grime from your white gold and remove the buildup that may dull the luster. You can find Seventh Generation from Amazon.

whitegold-cGemcare’s Jewelry Finishing Cloth.Gemcare has a line of jewelry cleaning products that are natural and environmentally friendly. The Gemcare Jewelry Finishing Cloth is designed to be safe for all kinds of fine jewelry surfaces and will not scratch the plating of white gold. The cloth is also washable for repeat use.