How to Clean Costume Jewelry. Keeping costume jewelry in excellent shape takes only a little bit of time and effort. If the jewelry is worn everyday, then cleaning must take place often. If jewelry is only worn once in a while, then preserving during periods of nonuse is the key. Costume jewelry, especially vintage or family heirlooms, take particular care.
Choose a good cleaning solution. Avoid alcohols and acids like ammonia and vinegar. Read the label of the cleaning solution to make sure it can be used with the metal being cleaned.
Use the solution to clean smudges from gemstones and glass. Dab a minimal amount of solution onto a cotton swab, and gently buff the dirty spot. Never soak jewelry in the solution, because moisture breaks down glue, welding and other adhesives bonding jewelry together.
Use a baby toothbrush to gently brush off the jewelry to prevent scratching. The toothbrush will buff and dust the metal parts of the jewelry.
Pick residue out of encrusted areas with a toothpick. Wooden toothpicks are best, since they are gentle and will not scratch the jewelry.
Dry quickly to avoid rusting. Dab the jewelry with a towel. For extra care, blow dry with a hair dryer on a cool air setting.