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4 Things to Avoid Cleaning with Toothpaste

Mar 19, 2024

Toothpaste is a popular DIY solution for cleaning shoes and polishing fixtures, but skip it when it comes to cleaning these things.

Getty Images / Natalia Sereda

Toothpaste is touted as a common household item that has loads of DIY cleaning uses and, indeed, toothpaste can be used in a pinch for all sorts of jobs, from polishing fixtures to getting foul food odors out of hands. One thing that toothpaste has going for it is there's almost always a tube of it available. But before you reach for it, be aware that toothpaste shouldn't be used to clean anything and everything.

Like baking soda, when it comes to cleaning, toothpaste has its limits because its mildly abrasive properties can cause scratching on some materials. Read on to find out a few surprising things that should never be cleaned with toothpaste.

Getty Images / Natalia Sereda

When you read cleaning tips or hacks that involve the use of toothpaste, it's important to know that the toothpaste in question is white toothpaste. Do not use gel toothpaste, charcoal toothpaste, colored toothpastes for children, or whitening toothpastes for any cleaning jobs, as the dyes and/or whitening agents can cause irreversible damage. It is especially critical to be certain the toothpaste is not a whitening formula, as the ingredients can have a bleaching effect on anything that's been treated with dye.

Opals, pearls, and other soft, lustrous gemstones should never be cleaned with toothpaste. Toothpaste has a hardness of 3 to 4 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, which measures a mineral's resistance to scratching; opals and pearls have, respectively, a hardness of 6 and 3. While opals have a higher hardness ranking than toothpaste, because of the stone's luster, avoid cleaning them with toothpaste, as micro-scratches can dull its luminous appearance.

Gold has a hardness of 2.5 to 3 on the Mohs scale, and should not be cleaned with toothpaste—or any other type of abrasive cleaner or tool—to avoid scratching it, which will leave it looking dull.

Like gold, silver has a hardness of 2.5 to 3 on the Mohs scale and should not be polished with toothpaste to avoid scratching the soft metal. And the oils commonly used to flavor toothpaste can be corrosive to metal, making it doubly important to skip toothpaste in favor of proper silver polish when cleaning anything made of silver.

Diamonds and other popular gemstones like rubies and sapphires that have a higher hardness on the Mohs scale than toothpaste should still not be cleaned with it because it can cause surface abrasions that dull the appearance of the stone. And because many gemstones are set in metals like gold or silver, it's best to avoid cleaning precious jewelry with toothpaste to avoid scratching both the metal and the gems.

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Read the original article on Better Homes & Gardens.