How to Detangle Your Jewelry Once and for All

Twisted necklaces and bracelets will be a thing of the past thanks to these three genius tricks.

Photo: Lennart Weibull

Imagine this scenario: You're getting dressed and realize that pretty locket you own would make the perfect accessory, but when you pull it out of your jewelry box, you discover a mess of tangled chains. Now you have to make a split second decision. Do you sit there fumbling with it, possibly missing the morning train, or do you leave it in a heap on your dresser, to be dealt with another time? Next time you find yourself in this situation, remember these three expert tips, which make detangling your jewelry a breeze. Plus, we're sharing our best advice for avoid tangles in the first place.

Soak Jewelry

You may have heard that baby oil can help untangle jewelry, but jewelry designer Anuja Tolia of Anuja Tolia Jewelry cautions against this practice. "It can harm the jewelry or change its coloring," she says. Instead, soak tangled strands in warm water with a very mild soap (fragrance-free baby shampoo is a great choice) to loosen any knots. This lubricates the metal, making it easier to loosen chains. If the knot is particularly stubborn, try massaging it between your thumb and pointer finger until it lets up slack. If you're concerned about tarnishing metal, wipe it dry with a soft, clean cloth. Over time, soap may loosen glue that secures gemstones, but again, occasional contact with water should not be an issue, particularly if dried thoroughly. The biggest exception to this is pearls. Pearls should not be submerged in soapy water, because it can stretch the string and damage the pearl's finish.

Get Leverage

When your jewelry is in a tangled mess on your lap, you're more likely to introduce new knots in the process of detangling. Drape the non-tangled part of the necklace over a cabinet knob, so you can work on the tangled part without causing further tangling, says Melissa Clayton, CEO and founder of Tiny Tags.

Use a Sewing Needle

If you're still having trouble detangling your jewelry, a straight sewing needle can help, says Bianca Pratt of Bianca Pratt Jewelry. (If you don't have any sewing needles, a safety pin may also work-it's just not as thin.) First, unclasp the tangled necklace or bracelet and remove any pendants if possible. Shimmy the pointed end of the needle inside the knot, then gently wiggle and tug to loosen it. Once the knot is loosened, carefully thread the chain up and out to undo the knot.

Store Jewelry in Bags

Delicate chains are prone to tangling when stored in piles. Instead of tossing them in your jewelry box, tuck each piece inside of a small pouch and leave the tail end of the necklace or bracelet outside of it before cinching closed, says Pratt.

Use a Straw

If you have the time and the supplies for it, thread thin bracelets and necklaces through straws before clasping. Simply trim the straw to measure half the chain, thread the necklace or bracelet through the straw, then clasp and stow. For larger pieces, try the same process using empty paper towel rolls.

Use a Safety Pin When Layering

Tangles don't just happen during storage-layering is on-trend, but can leave you with a mess of chains around your neck at the end of the day. When layering necklaces, thread each necklace onto one safety pin before clasping to prevent tangling and twisting throughout the day, says Tolia. Bonus: You can also use the safety pin to manipulate the length of each chain.

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