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How to Properly Clean Rocks

Most rocks are gathered in a natural setting such as a field or riverbed. In order to enjoy the rock's most natural appearance, properly clean your specimens as you find them.

Gather the Necessary Tools

Use what you have at home. Many of the necessary tools can be found at home like cotton swabs, tweezers and alcohol.

Visit a craft store. You can find a variety of shapes, sizes and coarseness for the various brushes used for cleaning.

Sort and organize your collection before gathering tools. Different stones require alternate types of cleaning methods to ensure the rock's integrity remains intact.

Consider ordering some of the tools online or through a catalog. Many companies offer complete kits to help you properly clean the rocks.

Properly Clean Your Rocks

Hold the specimen in your hand. Vices can damage the rock.

Remove loose debris using the awl or pointed scrapers. Discard the loose debris.

Remove debris from crevices using tweezers. You can also use tweezers to gently grip any small rock specimens.

Use the brushes after removing all debris. The brushes can be used in conjunction with alcohol or distilled water to further the cleaning process.

Find out the chemical composition of your rocks. If you plan to use liquids for cleaning, knowing the composition beforehand can prevent damage to the rock.

Clean some stones in distilled water using the sturdy brush. Types include quartz, topaz, tourmaline, garnet, beryl and spodumene.

Protect delicate rocks. For example, calcite should only be cleaned using distilled water and the sable brush.

Save alcohol for the sulfates group. When cleaning gypsum, for example, it is safe and recommended that you use alcohol.

Things You'll Need:

  • Pointed scrapers
  • Toothbrush for delicate or soft specimens
  • Paper towels
  • Tweezers
  • Awl or pointed instrument used to pierce small holes
  • Nailbrush for hard minerals and rocks
  • Cotton swabs to reach into cavities
  • Craft paintbrush to be used for delicate or soft specimens
  • Distilled water
  • Alcohol


Always use distilled water, as it does not contain reactive chemicals which could harm your rocks.


  • You may want to wear rubber gloves when cleaning rocks. Rocks can be very dirty especially if they've traveled along a riverbed. Bacteria, fungus and other parasites are able to live on rocks.
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