How to Take Care of Your Engagement Ring

Heard that you should take your ring off because of coronavirus? Here's expert advice on whether you should take your ring off, how to sanitize it properly, and more.

By Deanna deBara

engagement rings and wedding rings in a box
Photo by Zola

When you get an engagement ring, you want to do everything to take care of it. But what, exactly, does that entail?

Is there a cleaning process you need to follow? Can you clean your diamond ring at home using your own cleaning methods—or do you need to take it to a professional jeweler or jewelry cleaner? And how often do you need to clean your ring (either with a home cleaning or a professional cleaning) to keep it looking its best?

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about how to take care of, clean, and sanitize your engagement ring:

How To Clean and Sanitize Your Ring

Regular ring cleaning and sanitizing is an absolute must if you want your ring to maintain its shine and sparkle for years to come. And in the wake of COVID-19 (which can live on non-porous surfaces), taking care of your engagement ring and keeping it clean is more important than ever.

But what process do you need to follow to get to a clean diamond ring—and keep that diamond sparkling?

Let’s take a look at a step-by-step guide for cleaning your engagement ring at home:

Step 1: Mix the cleaning solution

No matter what kind of ring or ring setting you have (whether that’s a minimalist ring or a more substantial diamond engagement ring) the best and safest way to clean your engagement ring (and wedding rings, when you have them) is with a simple mixture of soap and water. (Harsh chemicals, like bleach, acetone, or chlorine—which are present in some jewelry cleaners—can actually damage your ring and break down the metal.)

To get started, fill a small bowl with warm water and add a few drops of antibacterial dishwashing soap. Mix the two together to combine.

Step 2: Submerge the ring in the cleaning solution

Once the solution is combined and soapy, drop your ring into the soap and water mixture. Make sure the entire ring is submerged in the cleaning solution.

Step 3: Let the ring soak in the cleaning solution

Once your engagement ring is in the soap and water mixture, let it soak for at least 30 minutes.

Step 4: Wash your hands

Before you take the ring out of the solution, make sure to wash your hands with antibacterial soap. (You don’t want to transfer anything from your hands to your newly cleaned ring!)

Step 5: Use a toothbrush to remove any build up

If there is any visible grime or residue on the ring (for example, from dirt, lotion, makeup, hairspray, or other personal care products), use a soft toothbrush to gently remove the build up. (The softer the bristles, the better!)

Step 6: Rinse the ring

Rinse the ring under warm water to remove any soapy residue. If there is any additional grime or you feel like the ring isn’t as clean as you’d like it to be, repeat step 4 and then rinse again.

Step 7: Let the ring dry

Once you’ve thoroughly rinsed your ring, it will need to try. Depending on your preference, you can either set it out to air dry or gently at it with a lint-free cloth made of microfiber.

Skip this process if you have a pearl engagement ring

This sanitizing method will work for most precious metals and gemstones (including diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, and topaz). The one exception? If your engagement ring is predominantly pearls, you’re going to want to avoid submerging it in water, which can damage the pearl’s delicate top layer. Instead, wipe it down with a soft cloth dampened with the soap/water mixture. If you have a pearl ring, avoid cleaning your ring at home—and instead, take it to the jeweler for a professional cleaning.

How Often Should You Clean Your Engagement Ring?

Generally, you’ll want to clean your engagement ring at home at least twice per month (if you notice significant build up from hand lotions or other products, increase that to once per week)—and then take your ring in to your jeweler for a professional cleaning twice per year.

What To Avoid When Cleaning Your Engagement Ring? There are a few things you’ll want to avoid when cleaning your engagement ring, including:

  • Harsh chemicals. As mentioned, harsh chemicals can break down the metal of your engagement ring (or wedding band)—so stay away from harsh chemicals like chlorine, acetone, and bleach (as well as any household cleaners or jewelry cleansers that contain those ingredients).

  • Not cleaning it enough. If you don’t clean your engagement ring often enough, it will lose its sparkle and look dull and lackluster. Make sure you’re cleaning your ring often to keep it in tip-top shape.

Things To Keep In Mind When Caring For Your Engagement Ring

Now that you know how to clean your engagement ring, let’s quickly cover some other things you’ll want to keep in mind while caring for your engagement ring, including:

  • Handle with care. Your engagement ring is a piece of fine jewelry—so treat it as such. Make sure to handle your ring with care not only during the cleaning process, but as you go about your day-to-day life.

  • Clean your ring in the right location. Rings are small objects that can easily get lost. When cleaning your ring, make sure to clean it in a place where it’s unlikely to fall and get lost. (For example, you’ll want to wash your ring away from the sink, where it could fall down the drain, and away from any cracks or crevices.)

  • Choose your personal care products wisely. Personal care products like lotions, makeup, and hairspray can cause build up and residue on your ring. Keep that in mind when choosing products—and when using personal care products, consider taking off your ring and washing your hands before putting your engagement ring back on.

  • Keep up with your warranty requirements. If your engagement ring came with a warranty, you may need to schedule regular maintenance appointments in order to keep your policy current. Review your policy—and if regular maintenance with a jeweler is part of the deal, make sure to stay up-to-date on any necessary appointments.

  • Take off your ring for certain activities. Consider removing your ring for activities where it might get dirty, damaged, or lost—like cooking, showering, playing sports, or camping. (Just make sure to store it in a safe place!)

What COVID-19 taught us about taking care of engagement rings

While keeping your engagement ring clean should always be a priority, the COVID-19 pandemic has really driven home how important it is to keep your engagement ring (and your hands!) clean.

First, let’s start with your hands. One of our biggest weapons against the novel coronavirus has been—and continues to be—effective hand washing. And, over time, we’ve learned that if you want to get your hands as clean as possible, you should remove your engagement ring. Because your engagement ring fits snugly around your finger, it can be hard for the soap to fully get underneath the band—and germs can get trapped in the area as a result.

Research also shows that coronavirus can live on non-porous surfaces (metals included) for days at a time—which is why sanitizing your engagement ring and keeping it clean is an absolute must.

So, do you need to stop wearing your engagement ring? No. But continually cleaning your hands and your engagement ring is an absolute must to keep yourself safe and illness-free—whether that illness is COVID, the flu, or a common cold.

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