Clay earrings are made from plastic-based modeling clay, which is a popular medium for making jewelry since it does not dry out and hardens when baked in an oven. This clay is often glazed, matte, or glossy, and may be sculpted, sanded, painted, glided, or polished into various styles.
Polymer clay earrings are surprisingly strong and durable and do not break or bend easily. However, these earrings can accumulate dust and debris from the environment, especially when frequently worn outdoors.
Luckily, clay earrings are extremely easy to clean. You can employ a wide array of effective household cleaning methods including the use of baby wipes, damp cloths, liquid soap, acetone, and rubbing alcohol.
In this guide, we’ll guide you through thoroughly cleaning your fashionable clay earrings. We’ll also walk through some important tips on how to keep your clay earrings clean and long-lasting for years to come.
1. Unscrew the Backings From Your Clay Earrings
The first thing you need to do is unscrew the backings of the earrings. This is done to ensure that every part of the earring can be cleaned effectively.
To unscrew the backing, insert the tips of a round-nosed plier into the loop of the backing and gently twist it outward to loosen. Keep your movements short and gentle so as not to inadvertently damage the clay earrings.
2. Remove Dust From the Clay
Dust is the biggest culprit that mars the appearance of your clay earrings. Since clay earrings are porous (if the glaze is not applied to them), dust can get stuck on them fairly easily. Fortunately, getting rid of the dust on clay earrings is not difficult and there are many tools that can help with this.
For example, you can use a small eyeshadow brush or cellotape to remove dust from your clay earrings. Using the eyeshadow brush, gently swipe it across the clay earrings, allowing the fine bristles to go into the pores and dislodge dust.
Remember to give the brush a light tap before cleaning your clay earrings a second time. This helps to remove the dust that has accumulated on the bristles from the first swipe.
Alternatively, you can also use a cellotape to remove dust. Peel off a small amount of cellotape, making sure to press the adhesive part of the cellotape onto your skin a few times before using it. This is to reduce its stickiness to avoid peeling off the earring’s finishing.
It’s also important to note that you should avoid using tissue paper to remove dust since it is frail and sheds a lot. This will end up making your clay earrings appear even dustier than it was before.
3. Clean the Clay Earrings and the Backings
After removing dust, it’s time to clean your clay earrings. Cleaning clay earrings is a simple process and can be achieved in numerous ways. You can use cleaning wipes or a soft damp cloth to clean them. You can also use liquid dish soap, acetone, or rubbing alcohol.
All of these methods are effective and you can use whichever that’s convenient for you – we’ve made sure that most of these methods contain products and items that are readily available at home.
Using Cleaning Wipes
One of the easiest and most effective ways to clean your clay earrings is to use cleaning wipes. We recommend the use of Clorox Scentiva Cleaning Wipes since they are antibacterial and have a refreshing, natural scent.
Moreover, it also has a clear drying formula, which quickly eliminates scum and grease and will not leave any residue on your earrings. However, you can also use any other cleaning wipes that you have as well.
Let’s take a look at the step-by-step instructions on how to use cleaning wipes on your clay earrings:
- Lay down the earrings on a clean and flat surface and take a clean wipe from the packet.
- Apply the wipe gently to the surface of the clay earrings until all traces of dust, debris, and scum are removed.
- If there are some stubborn stains, you can apply a bit more pressure when cleaning the clay earrings with the wipe. However, make sure you do not press down too hard. Although clay earrings are quite durable, too much pressure can crack them.
- Make sure to clean the earring backings as well.
- Use a soft lint-free cloth to wipe the clay earrings dry.
Using Liquid Dish Soap
Another effective way to clean your clay earrings is to use a mild liquid dish soap. You can use any kind of dish soap that you have at home, as long as it’s mild – we had great success using Mrs. Meyer’s Liquid Dish Soap.
This detergent has a plant-derived biodegradable formula that cuts grease easily without damaging the polymer clay. The soap also doesn’t contain any potentially harmful ingredients like parabens and phthalates.
You can use Mrs. Meyer’s Liquid Dish Soap to create a soapy water solution and clean your earrings. Here’s how:
- Create a soapy solution by using 1 part dish soap with 4 parts water in a small bowl. Mix the solution well with your fingers to create suds.
- Use a soft microfiber cloth and dab one corner into the solution. Wipe the earrings gently with the damp cloth.
- If some stains are resistant to cleaning, keep the soapy cloth pressed firmly to the earring for a few seconds so that the soap has time to work its magic. Then use firm pressure to wipe off the grease or scum.
- After that, take the backing and place them in the soapy water bowl. Use a soft-bristled brush (an unused toothbrush works too) to gently scrub off the grime and dirt from it.
- Once the earrings and backing are clean, wipe them down with a dry lint-free cloth.
Acetone is a powerful liquid solvent that can break down the bonds between substances and dissolve them. It’s very effective in cleaning clay earrings that have certain types of finishes (glazed, coated, or glossy).
It’s best to avoid using acetone with clay earrings that are hand-painted, coated with glitter, or varnished, as it can remove these coatings. It’s also a good idea to request advice from your earring manufacturer and find out if you can use acetone to clean the particular clay earrings you own.
After that, it’s advisable to test the product on a small inconspicuous section of the earring to check whether it damages the finish. If everything seems fine, you can use it on the rest of the earrings and the backings as well:
- Pick up a small amount of acetone on a cotton bud and gently rub on any dirt or stains that are present on the clay earrings.
- Use slow circular motions and add slight pressure if the stain is stubborn. Repeat until all dirt and stains are removed.
- Wipe the clay earrings with a damp cloth to remove any acetone residue.
- Lastly, wipe with a dry lint-free cloth to pick up any remaining water residue.
Using Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol is an ethyl alcohol-based liquid, which has antibacterial properties and is widely used to clean surfaces and eliminate unpleasant odors. While it’s an effective cleaner, it should only be used on clay earrings that are unglazed or have a matte finish.
Like acetone, you should also test rubbing alcohol on an inconspicuous part of the earring to see if it damages the material. But before that, we recommend that you dilute the rubbing alcohol first to reduce its potency.
Since it’s a type of alcohol, using it unadulterated can dry out the clay and result in cracking. For the best results, follow the below instructions:
- Make a solution of rubbing alcohol with equal parts alcohol and water.
- Dip a cotton bud into the solution and gently rub it onto the clay earrings to wipe them.
- If your clay earring is painted, make sure to use less rubbing alcohol on that section; otherwise, it might dissolve the paint and smear it.
- Repeat the action until the clay earrings are completely clean.
- Use a damp piece of cloth to wipe off the excess rubbing alcohol solution from the earrings.
- Dry the earring with a dry microfiber cloth.
Using Damp Cloth
If you want a quick and convenient way to clean your clay earrings, you can simply use a damp cloth. All you need is a soft lint-free cloth, some warm water, and a dry microfiber cloth.
This is a very good method to remove simple stains from your earrings. It is also safe and least likely to cause any sort of damage to your earrings. Below is how you can clean your clay earrings using a damp cloth:
- Take a clean piece of lint-free cloth and dampen it.
- Then, gently rub the earring with the damp cloth. For stubborn dirt particles, keep the cloth pressed to the stain for a few seconds to soften it, then wipe it with firm motions.
- Lastly, use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe any remaining water residue off.
4. Dry Your Clay Earrings
After cleaning your clay earrings, it’s important that you dry them properly before storing them to avoid water stains. Place the earrings in an open and ventilated space, where they will dry quickly (preferably with a nice breeze).
You can use tools like a fan or a hair dryer to quickly dry your clay earrings as well. Make sure the hair dryer is placed in a cool setting to prevent the earrings from cracking.
Important Notice: Make sure not to place your clay earrings in direct sunlight or near direct heat sources as that can dry them out leading to discoloration and in some circumstances cracks.
5. Store Your Clay Earrings Properly
Now that you’re done cleaning your clay earrings, it’s time to store them properly. We recommend that you store them safely in a box or a jewelry organizer instead of keeping them lying around on your dressing table.
This is because they might accidentally get knocked down and break or may collect a lot of dust. It’s also important to note that you should keep your earrings away from hairspray, perfumes, moisturizers, and makeup, as they can stain the jewelry and cause it to discolor.
Be gentle when handling your clay earrings and keep them away from any sharp objects that may scratch them. Since polymer clay does not have any water, you can easily store them in an air-tight container.
You can also wrap the earrings or cover them in plastic to keep away dust, moisture, and heat. However, we find that placing them in a jewelry organizer is the most convenient and effective option.
Tips on How to Keep Clay Earrings Pristine
To make sure your clay earrings remain clean for years to come, we would like to share some important tips and best practices with you.
- Handle Them With Care – Although these earrings are made of strong clay, it does not mean they won’t crack or break if you handle them roughly. Make sure that you do not place them on a surface from which they can easily fall off. Do not try to bend them, and keep away from the reach of children, especially babies, and toddlers. Not only is this a choking hazard for them, but if a child chews on your clay earrings, they will break.
- Remove Earrings When Showering or Swimming – Do not wear clay earrings when you are in the swimming pool or shower. Although they are water-resistance, immersing them in water for a prolonged period of time can lead to the deterioration of the clay.
- Avoid Wearing When Using Spray Products – Keep your earrings away from perfumes, hairspray, and spray deodorants. All of these things contain alcohol, which can damage the clay earrings and remove their paint or glitter.
- Store in a Cool & Dry Place Away From Sunlight and Heat – Make sure to store your clay earrings in a cool and dry place, away from harsh sunlight or direct sources of heat. Overexposure to heat can dry out the polymer clay and make it prone to cracking.
- Store in a Container to Avoid Scratches – Place the clay earrings into a container to prevent them from getting scratched and accumulating dust. Storing your clay earrings in a container also prevents them from falling, breaking, and getting into the hands of pets or children.
- Clean Them Regularly – Make sure to clean your clay earrings on a regular basis. This will get rid of any dust or debris on the earrings, making them look pristine and allowing them to last long.
Sirinan is a self-proclaimed cleanaholic and the editor-in-chief of Cleaney. Apart from coming with up creative ways to keep her living spaces clean and tidy, she loves to read on rainy days.