Cleaning Pearls - Easy Methods You Can Try At Home

by Hannah Will August 16, 2016 1 Comment


Pearls are one of the most classic pieces of jewelry you can own. If your pearls will be worn frequently, you might be wondering how do you keep them clean? Cleaning pearls isn’t particularly difficult, but it’s not the same as cleaning your other fine jewelry. Don’t make the mistake of treating your pearls like the rest of your fine jewelry pieces, because they need special care.

A pearl necklace is one of the most classic pieces of jewelry you can own. The great thing about pearls is that their everlasting beauty allows them to be worn all the time  - day or evening. They can look fantastic with jeans and a t-shirt and they can create an elegant look with a little black dress. If you plan on wearing your pearls frequently, you might be wondering how to keep them clean and looking gorgeous? Cleaning pearls isn’t particularly difficult, however, you do not clean them the same way you clean your other fine jewelry. Don’t make the mistake of treating your pearls like the rest of your pieces, because they need special care.-

Most pearls today are what we call “cultured pearls”. Cultured pearls are actually formed by inserting a bead into an oyster shell. Inside the oyster, the bead is given a beautiful coating called a nacre. This is what gives cultured pearls their beautiful, unique look. The thicker the nacre, the more valuable the pearl is. The biggest concern when cleaning pearls is their fragility. The nacre, the coating on pearls, is what gives them their iridescent appearance. This coating is extremely fragile, and will be easily damaged it you don’t take caution when cleaning your pearls. Unlike diamonds, the coating on most pearls is fairly new and a lot softer. The smallest amount of hairspray or chemicals could change the appearance of your beautiful pearls forever.

Here’s the unique part of cleaning pearls, as much as you need to be careful, pearls actually look better when they’ve been worn a bit. If your pearls get too clean, they will lose their lustre. The oils on your skin actually help improve the lustre of the pearls.So a helpful tip is after you have cleaned your pearls, put them on for a few hours before going out so the oils on your skin rejuvenate their sheen. At the end of the day, even though a little wear will help make the pearls look better, they should still be wiped off before they are put away. If they aren’t gently cleaned before they are stored, the oils from your skin can damage them by ruining the outer coat.  So make a note, at the end of each wear, give them a quick clean and your pearls will be all set!-

Daily cleaning:

Cleaning pearls after a day of wear to remove any skin oils is essential. It’s not difficult, and should take just a minute.

Step 1: Remove your pearls before beginning the cleaning process.

Step 2: Lightly dampen a soft washcloth.

Step 3: Gently run the washcloth over the pearls until each pearl has been touched.

Step 4: Store your pearls inside a box wrapped in some tissue.

See? It’s almost too easy. If you keep this up, you shouldn’t have to deep clean your pearls often. Daily maintenance - or each time you wear - will keep your pearls in perfect condition. A gentle cleansing is just enough to keep them looking pristine without overdoing it, as it is possible to get pearls too clean, which will end up causing damage.

What if it’s been awhile since you’ve cleaned your pearls and they aren’t looking their best? No worries. While it is important to keep up with pearl maintenance, sometimes daily life gets in the way. If you feel like your pearls need a good deep cleaning or they’ve gotten stained, that’s easy to do too.

-See? It’s almost too easy to have gorgeous pearls. If you keep up with the daily maintenance of a gentle cleansing, you shouldn’t have to deep clean your pearls too often.

Okay, what if it’s been awhile since you’ve cleaned your pearls and they are looking a little bit dull?  No worries. You probably didn't realize the importance of a gentle cleaning every time you wear them. And, yes, sometimes life just gets in the way.  If you are looking at your pearls right now thinking they need a good cleaning, you're in luck, that is also easy to do.-

Deep cleaning:

  1. Fill a small bowl with SLIGHTLY luke warm water.
  2. Add only a drop of very mild detergent (about a pea-sized amount)
  3. Mix the detergent in with the warm water.
  4. Gently place the pearls in the water.
  5. Leave the pearls in the warm water for no more than 5 minutes. If you leave them in for longer than that, you run the risk of rotting away the string.
  6. Using a chamois leather, gently buff and shine the pearls (this is the most important part!)
  7. Let the pearls stand out for about 20 minutes to allow the string to dry.
  8. Gently wrap the pearls in tissue and return them to their storage box.

Again, this process is not too difficult. Cleaning pearls is actually very easy, but it’s important to know how to do it correctly. The key to cleaning your pearls is simply being gentle. Don’t use a harsh detergent. Make sure the water isn’t too hot or too cold. Don’t press too hard when buffing the pearls at the end. Most importantly - keep up daily maintenance! If you simply run a dampened soft cloth over your pearls after each wear, you may never actually have to deep clean them! Proper care for your pearl jewelry will keep them looking pristine for many, many years to come.

Pearls are a gorgeous piece of jewelry that is meant to be worn and enjoyed. Don’t just pull them out for special occasions, make them an everyday accessory. Pearls are beautiful, and now you know how to keep them that way!

Hannah Will
Hannah Will


1 Response

Christine Pitchford
Christine Pitchford

March 30, 2017

Thank you so much Hannah for this valuable information! I have bought a secondhand rosary of pearls with a crucifix from Paris and the pearls are in great need of TLC so I will try your remedies! It is a very special gift for my Aunt who lost her husband, our Uncle last year. She is a devout Catholic and so we are hoping the rosary will be of comfort to her?! Thanks again Chris

Leave a comment