What is a pearl bath?


Well-known member
Jan 6, 2023
Good evening all!
ive been hearing the term "pearl bath" here on the forum, but trying to do a search doesnt come up with much info?

Would someone be so kind as to enlighten me?
What does a pearl bath consist of? When/how often?
Can it be done on strung pearls? Won't submersion degrade the silk?
Thanks in advance for the info!
I haven't heard of it before...but sounds "sensous"...Enquiring minds want to know!
But now I can't get this "image" off my head. :oops:
I knew it had to be something more simple.
It's true that it's best not to get silk wet more than necessary-- silk is weakened when wet and can stretch-- so I would usually just wipe down a pearl necklace with a soft, damp microfiber cloth, to remove sweat and skin oils. Microfiber is especially good for removing oils. But sometimes pearls have just accumulated too much grime, especially near the drill holes, and really do need a bath.

We have a well with hard water, and can't use any soap-- either bar soap or liquid soap like Dr. Bronner's-- unless using distilled water, or else the minerals in the water will interact with the soap to lay down a tough film that dulls the pearls. I learned the hard way when I used Bronner's and tap water to clean some MOP beads. If using soap leaves soap scum in your bath tub or sink or on your shower door, then know that it will leave the same scum on your pearls!

What many people call "soap" (like most liquid hand soaps, shower gels, baby wash etc.) are actually detergent based and don't interact with hard water. So, bottom line, if you have hard water, either use distilled water to wash and rinse the pearls, or else use a mild detergent-based cleanser that is not perfumey, not strongly colored, and easy on your skin. If it's easy on your skin it will be easy on the pearls. Not dish detergent. That is a bit too harsh IMO.

Certainly if one plans to restring, a bath is a good idea as it cleans the pearls while keeping them in the right order for restringing. If the drill holes are dirty, I would cut the pearls apart and string them, in order, onto white cotton thread, which can be run back and forth a bit to clean the drill holes. Then string them onto your thread of choice.

When I'm doing my own stringing /restringing, I use Serafil (or Beader's Secret) which is a synthetic polyester thread. It doesn't stretch or get weak when wet.
That's what I thought. I typically wash pearls in distilled water with 1 drop of ivory liquid soap per quart of water. Almost no soap at all, but it does clean the pearls, Then I use the leftover threads from projects to clean the insides and let them dry before restringing.
I've never tried to "give pearls a bath" unless I plan to restring them and usually restring them BEFORE giving them a bath so I can get the parts close to the pearl clean because the knot is usually the dirtiest part of an old strand.