Because costume jewelry often closely resembles more expensive jewelry, it can be a cost-effective way to expand your collection of accessories. Although it is often not constructed of authentic gem stones or precious metal, costume jewelry should still be cared for in much the same way as more expensive jewelry, since it is made of lower-grade materials and is more susceptible to stains and chips. The most damaging substances to costume jewelry are water and abrasive or caustic cleaning solutions. Proper care of costume jewelry ensures the pieces last for a long time.

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Take off all costume jewelry before entering water, including showers, tubs, swimming spools, spas and saunas, and before washing dishes. Do not wear costume jewelry when swimming in lakes or the ocean. Moisture on costume jewelry often leaves dark water spots that are difficult to remove without damaging the finish of the jewelry.

Remove all jewelry before using any type of household cleaning solution. Chemicals that come into contact with costume jewelry corrode it, removing the finish and leaving a white residue.

Put on jewelry after applying perfume and hairspray, as these substances can build up on jewelry and cause discoloration. In addition to dulling the shine of jewelry, the ingredients in perfume and hairspray build up in the crevices of jewelry, trapping dirt and dust. This creates a dark appearance difficult to remove if not cleaned regularly.

Store all jewelry in a lined jewelry box to limit exposure to air, which can discolor it over time. Exposure to air causes jewelry to tarnish, leaving dark stains on the metal surfaces.

Avoid wearing costume jewelry while exercising or during other activities that cause sweating. Sweat discolors some jewelry, especially artificial pearls. The discoloration occurs when the sodium from perspiration dries on the jewelry. Over time, this sodium buildup causes an overall dullness to metal surfaces.

Clean the jewelry on a regular basis to remove substances that could discolor it. Wash the jewelry item with one drop of baby shampoo and water. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean hard-to-reach crevices. Rinse the jewelry well, and dry completely with a towel.