One of the most annoying things that you’d be forced to deal with when you wear copper jewelry, 14k rose gold jewelry or plated copper jewelry is the risk of the jewelry staining your skin. If you are lucky, you may only notice the staining on your fingers where the ring rubs against, but in worst cases, your neck may be stained, and if you are wearing light-colored clothes, the green copper stains might be transferred to your clothes.
Unfortunately, your jewelry might not be the only source of the green stains from copper – the embellishments from the studs to buttons, beads, and brads might all leave green stains once these embellishments tarnish. This could also be the case from contact with harsh chemical cleaning products, excessive rubbing, or just tarnishing from older pieces.
In all these cases, the green stains are annoying, and you may be looking for the best remedies to help you get rid of the green copper stains from your clothing. So, how do you get rid of the green stains from clothing?
Silver necklace leaves black marks on clothes – Is it normal?
It is normal for your sterling silver necklace to leave black marks on your clothes. The reason for this staining on your clothes has to do with the tarnishing of the sterling silver jewelry. Though highly-priced, sterling silver jewelry will tarnish when exposed to different elements, including air and water, and if the necklace you wear is heavily tarnished, the tarnish is transferred to your clothes as black specks/ marks.
The tarnish results from the fact that your sterling silver necklace is a copper-silver alloy. Since silver is too soft in its pure form,(see its Mohs scale here) it must be alloyed with other metals to be stronger and for use in jewelry making. Copper is the metal that is alloyed with pure silver, creating sterling silver. Though it makes silver stronger and more durable, copper is quite reactive, and its interaction with air, water, and your skin/hair/body care products will result in a chemical reaction whose by-products appear as black dust.
The biggest culprit behind the tarnishing of sterling silver jewelry, however, is sulfur, and the interaction is the main reason for the black staining – this black substance is a sulfur compound. Therefore, it’s safe to say that the main reason for the tarnishing of sterling silver jewelry is the presence of hydrogen sulfide in the air.
The relative movements between your jewelry and your clothing or jewelry will transfer the black specks to the clothing, hence the black marks on clothing. Since sterling silver tends to tarnish a lot, you need to polish the jewelry often to prevent the staining of your clothes.
Copper jewelry leaves black or green marks on cloth – Is it normal?
In other cases, and for a small percentage of the population, the tarnishing jewelry will come in contact with your moist skin, causing a green stain on the skin thanks to the presence of copper in the sterling silver jewelry.
So, yes, it’s normal for the copper jewelry to leave behind green or black marks on your clothes. Notably, this doesn’t happen to everyone who wears sterling silver jewelry. For persons who notice the green discoloration or staining from the sterling silver jewelry, copper plays a role, but it all has to do with the chemistry of these individuals’ bodies. The reaction of the copper in sterling silver with the moisture on the skin of these individuals will form copper oxide, which has the characteristic green color. This is also seen in jewelry made of copper (100%).
Besides body chemistry, the green discoloration could also be attributed to make up which causes smudging, and even blackening of the copper jewelry, and the subsequent staining of clothes. Perspiration also results in tarnishing because the mild chemicals that result from perspiration will result in the corrosion of the reactive metals (copper) in the jewelry.
How to remove green copper stains from clothing?
Removing metal stains from washable clothes
First, turn the garment to be washed inside out, then hold it under a cold water faucet and try to flush out the stained area. As long as the stain hasn’t been there for long, the force of the cold water should be able to flush out the metallic compounds from the fibers. Once the black or green copper stains have been washed out, you can wash that cloth as recommended on its care label.
After washing, check the stained area again, and if the stain is still there, you’ll need an oxygen bleach or an all-fabric bleach plus cook water to wash off the stain. Follow the bleach usage instructions on the mixing ratios, and make sure that the solution is safe for use with white or colored clothes. The good news is that most of the bleach varieties work for most fabrics, except for leather, wool, or silk. Soak the stained garment for a minimum of 4 hours, or maybe overnight to be sure, then rinse it well, and let the garment air dry.
One caveat, though – the method above will not work for previous stains or damage,
Once cleaned, make sure to clean your jewelry well before wearing it again. This prevents additional stains on your clothes. Also, you should start wearing jewelry after makeup, and your hair/skin/body care products have dried completely.
To get rid of the stained, oxidized layer of copper from your jewelry, you could use one of these combinations:
- Vinegar, flour, and salt paste on the jewelry, then buff
- Baking soda and lemon juice
- Salt and vinegar
- For chemical cleaning solutions, you could use acetic acid, citric acid, tartaric acid, acetone, and muriatic/ hydrochloric acid.
Staining clothing with copper or copper-alloyed pieces of jewelry can be very annoying. Unfortunately, it’s not always avoidable, which is why you need to know how to get rid of the stains and also how to prevent the staining.
Essentially, staining results from tarnishing or the reaction of sterling silver with sulfur and copper with oxygen.
As long as you clean your jewelry and clean the washable clothes as soon as you notice tarnishing, you will not have a permanent staining problem on your clothes.
Stephanie is a jewelry lover when she was a teenager. Her major was fashion design when she was in college. She is a jewelry designer at SOQ Jewelry and other design companies. Now she is also a writer for our website. She writes a lot of designs&brands posts with very actionable tips.