By Kathryn Walsh

A great pair of earrings has the power to make you look polished when you're feeling crummy or remind you of the loved one who gifted them – but a great pair of earrings turns into a dingy pair of earrings pretty quickly. Makeup, hair products and all manner of other particles collect in the crevices of earrings. Regularly cleaning those diamond studs or gold hoops prevents lasting damage and keeps them looking just as gorgeous as they did on the first wearing.

All’s vanity
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How to Clean Earrings

Clean With Water

Before introducing any harsh chemicals, try cleaning earrings with just water. Heat a cup of water in the microwave until it's steamy. Remove any backs from the earrings and lower both the earrings and the backs into the hot water. Let them soak for about 10 minutes. Using clean hands, spread the earrings on a white cloth or paper towel.

A little gentle scrubbing might release any dirt or grime still clinging to the earrings. Use a soft cotton cloth or a new toothbrush with soft bristles to lightly rub all surfaces of the earrings and their backs and loosen any particles. Rinse the earrings under warm water and use a dry cotton cloth to dry them thoroughly. Letting earrings dry naturally may leave water spots.

Deep Clean With Hydrogen Peroxide

Sometimes earrings collect buildup or marks that water alone can't handle. In that case, hydrogen peroxide is up to the job. It's available in grocery stores and pharmacies as a topical solution, meaning it's mild enough to be safe for the skin. Still, those with sensitive skin may want to don gloves before handling hydrogen peroxide.

Dip a cotton swab in the solution and rub it around all surfaces of the earring. Alternately, pour a little hydrogen peroxide on a cotton round and wipe down the earring that way. If gunk or spots remain, try soaking the earrings in the solution for five minutes. Rinse earrings in warm water and rub them dry.

Call on a Professional

If your first few attempts at home cleaning don't leave earrings looking spotless, leave the job to a professional jeweler. Some jewelers even offer this service for free, at least for pieces purchased from them. They may use steam or other methods to return earrings to a like-new state.

It's a good idea to let a professional look at any antique or sentimental earrings every so often, even when they're not in need of a deep cleaning. A reputable jeweler can spot any weaknesses or flaws that need to be fixed, preventing earrings from breaking on down the line.

Take Special Care of Pearls

Earrings with multiple pearls held on string require special cleaning. Soaking them or getting the string wet may cause it to weaken or break. Instead, use a soft cloth to gently buff each pearl. Even with pearl studs, use just a soft cloth for cleaning. If spots or marks persist, take them to a jeweler for professional cleaning.