Jewelry is made of different materials, such as gold, silver, palladium, etc, and stainless steel is one of them. A quick lesson on stainless steel; stainless steel is a combination of other metals overlaid with chromium to prevent oxidization which leads to rust. The other metals on their own are not as strong as they are when combined into stainless steel.
Unlike other materials used to make jewelry, jewelry made from stainless steel is more durable, allowing you to put your baubles on every day. Also, stainless steel jewelry may not be as expensive as jewelry made with other materials, but they are just as trendy and popular, and there is no limit to the artistic edge and modern styles they possess.
As fabulous as they are, stainless steel jewelry does get dirty and needs to be cleaned. Whether you use materials like vinegar or baking soda or you just go for using soap, it is imperative to note that your stainless steel jewelry can be cleaned at home without going through professional jewelry cleaner.
Does Stainless Steel Jewelry Tarnish When Wet?
The answer to this question is not black and white, in that there are a number of factors to consider. Hence, it is pertinent for us to let you know that tarnishing of stainless steel when wet is based on two main factors; the quality of the stainless steel and the type of water.
1. Quality of the Stainless Steel
There are different grades of stainless steel, with each one having a different composition of metals to different degrees. For example, type 318 of stainless steel has higher molybdenum content than type 316, but both are composed of chromium and nickel. The metal composition of the steel used to make your jewelry determines if it will tarnish when wet, and at what rate.
2. Type of Water
The type of water your jewelry is submerged in when it is wet will determine if your stainless steel jewelry will tarnish, and at what rate. Generally, stainless steel jewelry can get wet, provided you will dry it thoroughly afterward. The following are common situations in which your jewelry can get wet, and what to do in each situation.
i) For a shower in your bathroom, your stainless steel jewelry can be worn without fear of it tarnishing when wet. Just make sure you dry it well when you’re done. And make sure it doesn’t slip off as you’re having your shower.
ii) For a swim in a pool, please note that the typical pool water is chlorinated, and it tends to react negatively with jewelry. So we advise that you remove all jewelry, not just your stainless steel ones before you go for a swim.
iii) For a swim at the beach, do note that some grades of stainless steel don’t even have tolerance for salty water and will tarnish fast with continued exposure to salty water. So we advise that you do away with your stainless steel jewelry when you’re going for a swim in the ocean.
Does Stainless Steel Jewelry Rust?
Stainless steel jewelry is generally rust-resistant, not rust proof. What this means is that your jewelry’s level of resistance to rust doesn’t negate the fact that it can actually rust if the proper care in its use is not taken, especially as there are different classes of stainless steel used to make jewelry.
Grades of Stainless Steel Used to Make Jewelry
High-Quality grades: 316F, 316 and 316L. These grades are hypoallergenic, (stainless steel jewelry unlikely to trigger an allergic reaction in the wearers) and a defining factor for them is that they have a 3% increase in their molybdenum content that helps them to be more corrosion resistant.
Quality Grade: 304. This grade has 9-10% nickel and about 20% chromium, making it quite effective at rust resistance.
Low-quality Grade: 202. This grade has lesser amounts of nickel and chromium than the 304 and as such is more prone to rusting, even though it is still rust-resistant.
How to Clean Stainless Steel Jewelry with Vinegar
Vinegar is a well-known home product. It is also a great cleansing agent, and we will be showing you how to clean your stainless steel jewelry with vinegar for that shiny luster.
To use this method, you first need to get a white vinegar solution, which you can get at your local grocery store or at online stores. The tools you will be needing for this method are a cup of warm water, a cup of white vinegar, a brush with soft bristles, a small, clean and soft piece of cloth and a spray bottle (this is dependent on whether you want to spray clean your stainless steel jewelry or not).
So this will either go one of two ways; either you spray your water and vinegar solution in your jewelry directly and use the soft toothbrush to gently scrub it so the dirt and grime can be done away with, or you let the jewelry sit in the vinegar for a few minutes, about 3-6 minutes before you pick it up and rinse with the warm water to get out the remaining dirt.
Whichever way you choose, we can assure you of the end result: a lovely, sparkling clean piece of jewelry.
Bonus tip: You can also use this method for your gold jewelry. Find out how here.
Cleaning Stainless Steel Jewelry: Step by Step Guide
Asides from using vinegar, there are other methods you can use to clean your stainless steel jewelry to leave it looking lustrous. You can either use warm water and dishwashing soap, or you use toothpaste that doesn’t contain silica, or you use baking soda. The step by step guide for these methods are simple and similar, so we have combined them.
Step 1: Whatever cleaner you choose, get warm water ready to rinse your stainless steel jewelry.
Step 2: Mix your cleaner in a small bowl with a little warm water, taking care to form a paste that isn’t too watery (the dirt won’t be fully removed) or too thick (the paste would have to be washed off with a lot of water, not to mention that it would waste your time).
Step 3: Submerge your stainless steel jewelry in the paste. Alternatively, you can also get a toothbrush with soft bristles to gently scrub the dirt off your jewelry. It is key that the brush is a soft-bristled one, so you don’t scratch your jewelry.
Step 4: Remove your jewelry from the cleaning paste after about 3-6 minutes and rinse thoroughly in your warm water.
Step 5: Dry your stainless steel jewelry with a dry piece of cloth and store properly.
Stainless steel jewelries are wonderful to own and wear, and they generally don’t get dirty quickly. But when they do, you can use the methods we’ve explained to you to get your jewelry cleaned and looking sparkling again.
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