Maintaining Your Wedding Band: Do's and Don'ts for Cleaning Jewelry

As a monumental symbol of your undying matrimonial love, your wedding ring will stay as gleaming and pristine as it was on your wedding day. It will do this automatically, cleansing itself from the inside out by the sheer force and purity of your union.

Just kidding.

If you aren't cleaning jewelry regularly, each day will see your ring a little bit dingier than the day before. However, with a little care, you can bring back that original shine. Doing so takes very little effort—you'll only need to think about it once every few months.

Here are the do's and don'ts of cleaning jewelry, starting with the don'ts:

Don'ts

The first rule? Don't leave your wedding band on when you're getting your hands dirty. Is it too late for that? Whether you're playing football with your friends, changing an oil filter, or staining a deck, you probably don't bother removing your rings, even though you should.

When you wash your hands or take a shower, don't count that as cleaning your ring. All this does is build up a thin film of soap scum on your band. Cleaning your ring takes a bit more work.

Don't think twice about bringing your wedding band into your jeweler for a cleaning—at least the first time. When you're there, find out what the safest and best way to clean and polish your wedding band. This will largely depend on the metal and style of your ring.

Do's

A gold or platinum ring without a stone can be cleaned in warm, soapy water with a soft toothbrush. For a more extreme cleaning, let it soak for about 20 to 40 minutes. If the ring has a more intricate design, you can use a wooden toothpick to clean the crevices.

Many men are opting for diamonds in their wedding bands. For something super high-class such as a diamond band to something more understated such as a single diamond band, cleaning jewelry with diamonds takes a bit more care. Don't clean too vigorously around the diamond setting with a brush or toothpick, since this may dislodge the stone.

Avoid any type of chemical cleaner unless it was given to you by a jeweler who knows what your ring is made of. Bleach, acetone nail polish remover, and other harsh cleaners can discolor and damage your ring.

An ultrasonic cleaner might be safe for a simple gold or platinum band with no stones. These jewelry cleaning gizmos use water and ultrasonic vibrations to remove dirt from the surface of your ring. However, the vibrations may loosen stones or cause damage to diamonds, particularly those with inclusions or stones that have been treated.

For less common metals, such as tungsten, titanium, and ceramic materials, be even more careful. Though often touted as indestructible, these rings may react to different types of cleaners in unexpected ways.

There's one last thing to consider to get the bling back in your ring: refinishing. If your ring gets scuffs and scratches, you can have the jeweler refinish it to restore it to its former glory. However, limit refinishes to about once a year; otherwise, you run the risk of wearing down and weakening your band over time.

If cleaning jewelry is something you've never done, it's high time to start. The first time will be daunting, but after that, you'll know the drill and caring for your wedding band will be second nature.