How to Steam Clean Jewelry at Home

by Meg Butler

Your jewelry may have been shiny when you first got it. From the time you purchase a piece of jewelry, it gets coated with fingerprints, oil from your skin, dust and other debris that slowly degrade the shine over time. Often this happens so slowly that you don't even notice until your jewelry looks tarnished and worn. But don't waste your money on professional cleaning. Steam cleaning is one of the most effective ways to clean jewelry, and you can easily do it at home.

Items you will need

  • Trisodium phosphate powder
  • Wire hanger
  • Wire cutters
  • Soup pot
Step 1

Straighten your wire hanger and trim it with the wire cutters so that it is roughly 4 inches longer than the mouth of the pot you are using.

Step 2

Add a solution of one tsp. of trisodium phosphate per two cups of water in your pot. The amount of water that you use largely depends on the size of your soup pot. The bottom should be covered with at least three inches of water, and there should be enough room for your jewelry to hang without touching the water. Bring the solution to a boil.

Step 3

Thread the wire through the jewelry that you intend to clean. If you have necklaces that are long enough to touch the water below, double them back on themselves before threading the wire through.

Step 4

Place the wire over the pot so that the ends rest on the rim of the pot and the jewelry dangles in the middle without touching the water.

Step 5

Leave the jewelry to steam clean for five minutes. Then turn the burner off and allow the wire and jewelry to cool for 15 minutes. Remove the jewelry from the wire and lay it flat to dry.


  • Steam cleaning is ideal for jewelry with intricate detail and stones. But you should never steam clean amber, coral, drusy, emerald, foil-backed glass stone, malachite, mother of pearl, opal, pearl, peridot or unstabilized turquoise. These stones are delicate and may be damaged by the steam.

    You can find trisodium phosphate powder at most hardware stores.

Photo Credits

About the Author

Based in Houston, Texas, Meg Butler is a professional farmer, house flipper and landscaper. When not busy learning about homes and appliances she's sharing that knowledge. Butler began blogging, editing and writing in 2000. Her work has appered in the "Houston Press" and several other publications. She has an A.A. in journalism and a B.A. in history from New York University.