Removing polishing compounds

Hello. I’ve been having the hardest time removing polishing
compounds from the jewelry I make. I love seeing my jewelry have that
mirror finish when I am polishing, but later it is as if I polished
for nothing. I have a hard time removing it, especially from cracks
and crevices. To make matters worse, the water in my apartment that I
use to help clean the jewelry turns it different colors from all the
chemicals, even after I distill it. So far the best thing I have done
to remove it is use oil, but it doesn’t always do the trick, it is
messy, and the mirror finish is gone. I have tried using Sunshine
cloths and a plain cotton buff afterward, but these don’t work
either. Is this where an ultrasonic cleaner would come into play? I
don’t know much about them. Thanks ahead of time for your reply.


An ultrasonic would definitely help but so would the solution for
the ultrasonic. We use a green degreaser, like simple green. Test an
area first. Use a soft brush after soaking for a few minutes. It’ll
come right off. Dawn might do it also. Mix with water.

I use zam as my polishing compound and I remove it from all the
nicks and crannies by using a soft toothbrush, dipped in my home
brew of Simple Green, ammonia, and liquid dishwashing detergent.
Works just fine. Ifsome residue of the polishing compound gets stuck
in a tiny crevice, I dipa toothpick in denatured alcohol and gently
dig it out. Alma

Hasn’t anyone mentioned buying a ‘steam machine’ to blow out the
polishing ‘grundge’… Ultra-Sonic sound with warm to hot water does
do wonders, but the steam will blow out everything!!!


Simple Green liquid sprayed on dissolves all polishing compound from
my jewelry. Then rinse with lots of hot or warm water.


Ammonia and very hot water with a drop of dawn dish soap. Scrub with
and old (soft) toothbrush. Save your kids used braces brushes for
the small places and under stones. I have even used tooth floss upon
occasion where it will work. Good luck. Rob

Rob Meixner

Hi Ginger,

Do you have stones or material other than metal in your jewelry? I
don’t have a steamer but they do work wonders.

I make mostly all metal pieces, typically sterling or gold. I boil
the polished pieces in a quart of water, 3 ounces of clear ammonia
and a good dollop of plain unscented Dawn dish detergent. When I
have determined that they have boiled enough, hopefully before the
pan boils dry, I wash them under running water with a soft tooth
brush. Hand polish with a Blitz cloth and bag the work.

Be careful copper and brass pieces as they don’t play well with
ammonia and may discolor.

What I do with jewelry that has stones in place depends on the
stones but they will get individual care.

Don Meixner

Hello Ginger,

Yes, an ultrasonic cleaner would help. a lot! Before I bought one, I
soaked the polished piece in sudsy ammonia, periodically brushing
crevices with a soft, old toothbrush. Cheap enough; time-consuming.
To protect your hands, be sure to wear gloves. I like nytril gloves.

Other solutions that will cut the residual polish are out there, and
I’m sure others will share them.

Judy in Kansas, where temps are dropping and the sky is overcast -
precipitation should happen too and will be very, very welcome.

I use Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Pure Castile Liquid Soap in a hot
crock pot along with a Tampico (ebay item 181463197811) or
horsehair (ebay item 111560038266) brush. Both brushes, when wet,
won’t scratch. I have been using this technique for almost 30 years.
You’ll see the compound just dissolve away. Remember: stay away from
nylon toothbrushes as they scratch!

Jeff Herman

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Hi Ginger

I now have an ultrasonic cleaner which I mainly use to remove
polishing compound. I run it for 10 minutes at around 50C using
Actavax cleaning compound. Before this I used to clean with a stiff
nylon brush in hot water mixed with cloudy ammonia. (a mixture of
liquid soap and ammonia from the cleaning section of the local
supermarket). One minor advantage of the hand washing was that it
also removed the polishing compound from my fingers.

My normal routine now is to switch on the ultrasonic before I use
the polisher so that it is heating up while I’m polishing. If the
ultrasonic hasn’t heated up sufficiently by the time I have finished
polishing it doesn’t matter too much because the ultrasonic energy
also heats up the water fairly quickly.

All the best
Jennifer Gow

Several years ago when I moved my scub-up area to the laundry room, I
discovered that liquid laundry detergent (currently Tide) works
beautifully to clean buffing compound off both the metal object and
hands. Very hot water and astiff tooth brush for bobbing or coarse
compounds, extra soft after rouge, and those wonderful plastic
surgeon’s scrub brushes for hands. Absolutely no more buffing
compound under the nails any more. although that was rather a badge
of honour!

I had the feeling if she could afford a steamer she would have one.
I was under the impression we were looking for solutions with easily
obtainable equipment. Of course a stranger would be great Gerry amd

Ginger there is a great commercial cleaner called oakite. It is
pinkish in color and with ultrasonic and water it blows polishing
compound off of your items.

Russ Hyder
The Jewelry Cad Institute

Thanks for all your ideas. I will combine a number of them over time
and see which works the best. :slight_smile:


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