How to Remove Rust from Jewelry

Opting for some costume jewelry is a great, trendy way to express your personal style without spending too much money. Although it’s made of non-precious metals, it can look equally elegant, not to mention that it allows you to spice up your outfit and try out different styles endlessly. The problem is — it’s frustrating to see your trinkets starting to rust and change color within a few wears. Luckily, with proper care, you can restore your jewelry and keep it looking brand new. Read on for some tips on how to remove rust from jewelry and retain its beauty.

Rust or Tarnish?

Before I move on to my tips, let’s talk a little bit about the difference between rust and tarnish.

Sooner or later, you’ll notice that your fashion jewelry is turning brownish, changing texture, and becoming rough. That’s rust taking over.

Rust, which is usually orange or brown in color, forms when non-precious metals, such as iron or steel, come into contact with oxygen and moisture.Today, I’ll discuss both how you can prevent rust from developing and how to remove it if it develops.

Tarnish is something entirely different. Tarnish affects other metals, such as silver, copper, and brass. Silver, for example, doesn’t rust, but it can easily tarnish.

The reaction of the metal with sulfur dioxide or oxygen allows for a gray or black coating to form on the metal. Although the built-up film serves to protect the underlying metal in outdoor use, it causes your jewelry to lose its shine and blacken.

How to Remove Rust From Jewelry

At some point, you’ll probably notice that some rusty spots have formed on your jewelry. That doesn’t mean it’s time to get rid of those pieces. Let’s take a look at some simple, affordable ways you can remove rust in the comfort of your home. Even better, most of these methods are good at removing tarnish, too.

Vinegar, Baking Soda, and Aluminum Foil Scrub

As my favorite scrub for removing rust from jewelry, this method is one of the most effective ways to remove smaller rust stains from smooth-surfaced jewelry. It works particularly well with stainless steel pieces or chrome plating, but you should avoid scrubbing plated jewelry as you can easily scrub the lining away.

You’ll need white vinegar, half a teaspoon of baking soda, and some aluminum foil rolled into a ball. Generously spray the vinegar on the rust stain, sprinkle it with baking soda, and gently scrub with the aluminum ball.

It shouldn’t take long before the piece regains the shine it once had. Both rust and tarnish spots will fade with ease.

Aluminum Foil and a Baking Soda and Water Solution

Aluminum foil seems to be the ultimate quick fix for rusty jewelry. The following homemade solution requires more foil, ¼ of a cup of baking soda and a cup of water. You’ll need a glass bowl and a saucepan too.

Line the glass bowl with aluminum foil and place the rusty item at the bottom, touching the foil. Heat a cup of water in the pan, add the baking soda, and stir until it completely dissolves. Then, pour the solution over the jewelry and let it sit until the rust starts to disappear, but not longer than 30 minutes.

Do know that super-rusty jewelry will take longer to restore. For even better results, use a toothbrush to gently scrub the remaining residue. Furthermore, always dry the jewelry well before storing it away. Moisture hastens rust, so you should never leave your jewelry exposed to it for too long. 

White Vinegar and Water Solution

White vinegar is another handy ingredient because you are likely to already have it in your kitchen. For a quick fix, mix equal parts of vinegar and water and soak the jewelry in the solution. You can leave it soaking for hours at a time. Once you remove the pieces, use a soft toothbrush to reach the holes and chains, and remove rust completely.

If your trinkets are severely rusted, you can soak them in plain vinegar and table salt, but make sure not to leave them in for too long since vinegar can damage the lining. Moderately rusty jewelry should be as good as new within 30 minutes.

Lemon (Lime) and Salt

Lemon and lime have a long history and a great reputation when it comes to cleaning just about anything. Their natural acids remove rust and tarnish effectively and are non-hazardous. As such, there are a number of ways you can get rid of rust with the help of these citruses:

  • Squeeze one lemon (or lime) to make a glass of lemonade. Add a teaspoon of salt and soak the jewelry for several hours. Remove the remaining rust with some lemon (or lime) rind.
  • Cut the lemon (lime) in half and rub it over the rusty stains. The natural citric acid in these citruses makes them great for scrubbing. And because it’s natural, you don’t risk destroying your jewelry.
  • Squeeze the juice of one lemon (lime) and completely immerse a piece of your jewelry in it. Once again, use a soft toothbrush to scrub the rust off.

Soap, Baby Shampoo, and Water

Although one of the main causes of rust is moisture, a drop of water won’t do any harm. Just keep in mind that you should never soak costume jewelry in water or expose it to water for too long.

Soap and water is a conventional method, but it’s very effective. Soap not only cleans your jewelry but also neutralizes the musty smell or rust. 

You’ll need equal parts of liquid soap or baby shampoo and water. Baby shampoo is milder, so it might be better for cleaning severely damaged pieces. Liquid soap works just as well, though.

The mixture should have the consistency of toothpaste so that you can rub it in those hard-to-reach places with a soft toothbrush. When you’re all done, rinse the jewelry in cold water and dry it with a soft cloth.

Toothpaste

Cleaning silver jewelry.

You’d be surprised to know that toothpaste is a popular all-purpose jewelry cleaner. However, while plain toothpaste is excellent at cleaning tarnished silver, you’ll need to add a part of baking soda to remove rust from fashion jewelry.

Mix equal parts of toothpaste and baking soda into a thick paste. Then, apply the paste to the rusty spot and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

Use a scrub pad or a toothbrush to vigorously scrub and remove whatever rust is left. Afterward, rinse the items in cold water and dry them.

Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is something you can buy at any local drugstore or even online, so this solution might be right up your alley. All you need to do is pour some alcohol in a bowl and soak your jewelry for about half an hour. You can always gently scrub away the remaining rust and repeat the entire process if needed.

This method doesn’t work for heavily damaged pieces, as you risk further damage.

How to Keep Jewelry From Rusting

Learning how to protect your jewelry and prevent rust from forming can make all the difference. With proper care and maintenance, you might not have to worry about removing rust in the first place. So, here are a few ideas on how you can prevent your favorite pieces from rusting:

  • Apply lotion and perfume before putting on jewelry.A water-based perfume can increase the chances of rust, and so can body lotion. Therefore, put body lotion and perfume before jewelry and let them dry well.
  • Store your jewelry somewhere dry. Avoid storing your favorite items in the bathroom or any other damp, moist areas.
  • Store the jewelry in clear bags and closed containers. Store your items in sealable, plastic bags. The layer of plastic acts as a protection from the air. Then, store the bag in a closed container to further limit the amount of moisture and oxygen that can reach the jewelry.
  • Don’t wear jewelry while swimming. Needless to say, swimming means that you’ll get your jewelry wet and further damage it. Additionally, chlorinated water in swimming pools helps the rusting process.
  • Wipe your jewelry regularly. Lightly cleaning the jewelry with a soft, microfiber cloth goes a long way. For extra shine, feel free to add a drop of olive oil. Rinse it off and dry thoroughly.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to prevent rust from forming, as well as how to remove it from jewelry, is equally important. The lifespan of your jewelry depends on how well you treat it. Luckily, with proper care and maintenance, your jewelry will retain its beauty and shine for years to come. Choose whichever option works best for you, but make sure to give enough well-deserved attention to your favorite pieces.

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