Can You Wear 14k Gold In The Shower? (Explained In Detail)


Fourteen karat (k) gold is commonly used for jewelry. Its composition of 14 parts gold to 10 parts of alloy metals makes it durable while offering some luster.

You can wear 14k gold in the shower. However, other metal elements or coatings on the gold jewelry may be prone to damage in water. With exposure to soaps and other cleaning chemicals, the overall composition of gold can wear down and appear tarnished or dull. It is best to remove jewelry before showering, swimming, or washing your hands.

Gold In The Shower

Heat, humidity, and moisture can tarnish metals and wear them down, or leave a discolored green or black mark on your finger. Even sweat can do this! 

Gold components are fine in water. However, the alloys or diamonds and gems may react to the heat, moisture, lotion, and soaps. 

Over time, the jewel may lose some of its shine due to this. Saltwater, like that found in the ocean or chlorinated pools, is detrimental to all metals. 

Occasional 14k gold exposure to water is acceptable. However, long-term exposure invites the risk of damage. 

To protect your gold investment, you should remove it and keep it in a secure and dry location when bathing, swimming, or doing the dishes.

About Gold

It is important to understand the composition of gold, to further understand why water exposure is generally not a good idea. There are regulatory standards for the use of metals and their purity.

In its purest form, gold is soft and flexible, but cannot be used for making jewelry in this state. Mixing it with alloy metals makes it an excellent choice for molding and forming durable jewelry.

Karats

The term “karat” can be seen as “kt” or “k”, or spelled as “carat” in places outside of the United States. 

If you see “kp”, the “p” represents “plumb”, indicating that is the minimum amount of gold in the item. These numbers indicate how pure the gold is. 

24k is the highest number and does not contain any other metals. 10k is the lowest ratio allowed for it to still be called a “gold piece”.

Here is a quick reference about gold karats and what they may be used for:

Amount of GoldUses
24k (99.9%)Coins, bars, electronics, medical devices 
22k (91.6%)Plain occasionally worn jewelry (nothing with stones, gems, etc.)
20k (83.3)Occasional jewelry without stones or gems
18k (75%)Studded and diamond jewelry and watches for daily wear
14k (58.5%)Daily wear jewelry, pendants, lockets
10k (41.7%)Simple pieces such as chains and rings 

The higher the number of karats, the more gold that item has. Higher karats of gold also cost more. However, gold is a soft metal and is more easily prone to damage with higher gold content. 

With more alloys, gold jewelry will become harder and more resistant to damage, but it tarnishes more easily.

You may also want to consider jewelry with more gold in them if you have sensitive skin or allergies.

Alloys

Pure gold is a bright yellow-orange color. The alloy metals that gold is mixed with can vary to include a combination of copper, silver, zinc, nickel, or aluminum. 

These variances create different colors of gold. For example, rose gold has copper, white gold has zinc, and purple gold has aluminum mixed in.

Alloys also strengthen the gold for durability and to hold gems, such as diamonds, in place. 

Identifying Amount Of Karats

Gold items may have a stamp on them to indicate how many karats they have.

They will appear like the following to represent percentages of gold:

KaratsStamp
24k.999
22k.916
20k.833
18k.750
14k.585
10k.417

If there is not a stamp, which is commonly the case in antique pieces, a local jewelry store can help. They can do an acidic test, using nitric acid to determine the amount of gold in the item.

You can test to see if your jewelry is gold with vinegar, by putting a few drops of vinegar on it. However, it is not recommended that you use vinegar on your gold or other jewelry items. 

White vinegar will not harm the gold, but it will react with alloys. You risk that your jewelry will react to the vinegar and turn green or another color in response to the acid.

Caring For And Cleaning Gold

To protect your gold pieces, you should take steps to maintain them. These will protect your investment and reduce the chances of damage.

Caring For Gold

Consider doing the following to keep your gold in good shape on a regular basis:

  • Take off gold before water exposure
  • If sweating profusely, remove gold pieces that touch the skin
  • Wear gloves or remove gold rings before washing your hands or dishes or using cleaning products
  • Clean the jewelry daily if worn (see below)
  • Store gold in cool and dry locations

Cleaning Gold

You can try the following to keep your gold in good shape:

  • Buff: Wipe gold with a soft cloth and buff dry.
  • Commercial Product: Use an anti-tarnish gold cleaner. Make sure you check the label to ensure that it will work with your piece.
  • Clean With a DIY Solution
    1. Mix a few drops of dish detergent into warm water. Let the jewelry soak for 15 minutes. 
    2. Add a few drops of ammonia to the mixture. (Use caution and ventilation with ammonia.) Let it soak for 5 minutes. 
      • You can also skip the ammonia and try the dish detergent only.
    3. Brush the jewelry with a soft toothbrush, taking care not to scratch the gold.
    4. Rinse in warm water. 
    5. Dry with a soft cloth. 

Vinegar is often used for natural cleaning. As a reminder, if you use vinegar to clean, you risk that the alloys could react to the acidity and change the color of your jewelry. 

Removing Tarnish

If your gold jewelry becomes tarnished, you can try a few cleaning options before using a commercial product or going to a jeweler. Since these cleaning solutions are mildly abrasive, reserve them for absolute necessary use.

Baking Soda, Salt, And Dish Detergent

  1. Fill a small bowl with about two cups of warm water. 
  2. Add equal parts (one tablespoon) of baking soda and salt to break down and remove tarnish. 
  3. Add a drop or two of dish detergent to the mixture. 
  4. Let the jewelry soak for 15 minutes. 
  5. Scrub gently with a soft toothbrush. 
  6. Rinse with clean water. 
  7. Dry thoroughly.

Sparkling Water

The carbonization of sparkling water can break down and release buildup and tarnish.

  1. Fill a small bowl with sparkling water. 
  2. Let the jewelry soak in it for 10 minutes. 
  3. Scrub gently with a soft toothbrush. 
  4. Rinse with clean water. 
  5. Dry thoroughly.

In Conclusion

Occasional exposure to water generally does not harm 14k, or any other mixture, of gold. 

However, the alloys that most gold pieces are mixed with can react with water, soaps, chemicals, and more with repeated or prolonged exposure. 

It is recommended to remove gold jewelry before showering, swimming, and washing. Store your gold items in a cool and dry place to avoid tarnishing and damage.

Lisa Burlison

Lisa is a freelance blogger, literacy specialist, teacher, and self-published author with a vast DIY experience. When she’s not writing for PlumbJoe, Lisa enjoys testing homemade cleaners and doing repairs around her home. Her other hobbies include birding and bicycling.

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