Basic Rock and Mineral Cleaning at Home

Photo provided by Waymon Cox

Greetings from Crater of Diamonds State Park! What do you do with the rocks and minerals you find at the park once you get home? One option is to display some of your beautiful finds. When cleaned properly, many of the colorful rocks and minerals found here can brighten any home.

Often, the quickest and easiest way to clean finds is mechanically. Mechanical cleaning involves the use of tools to clean rock and mineral specimens. Wear gloves and eye protection during the process, and use a newspaper or sheet to catch loose debris and keep your work area clean.

One of the most important considerations when mechanical cleaning is hardness. If you aren’t sure how hard your finds are, try to scratch them in a hidden area with a steel nail or fingernail file.


Toothbrushes and toothpicks work well for soft rocks and minerals. Use a toothbrush to remove material from the surface and a toothpick to remove dirt and mud trapped in small cavities.

Wire brushes and dental picks work well for hard stones. Brass brushes are slightly softer than steel brushes. Use brass if you don’t want to remove too much material at one time. Use a dental pick to remove deposits on the surface of your finds and deep in crevices. Canned air can also clean loose sediments from areas that a brush or pick can’t reach.

If tools don’t get your stones as clean as you want, you can also try chemical cleaning. Safety is key when using any chemical. It’s usually best to work in a well-ventilated area. Wear old clothes, rubber gloves, and safety goggles to keep liquids from splashing on your skin. Clean your stones in a plastic bucket or container, and dispose of all chemicals properly. Always read and follow safety precautions for any chemicals you use.


The safest liquid to try first is water with a little dish soap. Soak your finds in soapy water for a day to loosen any packed-in dirt, and wipe or brush them clean. An abrasive toothpaste can also dislodge grime from smaller surfaces.

Many collectors choose to remove calcite from rock and mineral specimens. Calcite often forms over quartz and other more desirable crystals and is more difficult to remove. Use household vinegar to help dissolve calcite from your finds before displaying. Vinegar is a mild acid that works slowly, but it is safer and more readily available than most other cleaners.

To test your finds for calcite, place a few drops of vinegar on the surface. If the vinegar starts to bubble within a few minutes, the stones likely contain calcite. Remove calcite from your finds by soaking them in vinegar for two or three days. Use a wire brush to scrub away loosened calcite, and rinse with water.

Sometimes, you may wish to preserve calcite formations on your rocks and minerals. To clean surface stains on calcite, dip it in vinegar for a few seconds and quickly rinse with water. Don’t leave it in too long, or the calcite will start to noticeably dissolve. Repeat the process until you see the results you want.

After rinsing your rocks and crystals, soak them in clean water for a couple days to leach any leftover vinegar from holes and cracks. Let them dry, and find the perfect spot for them in your home.

Just about anyone can use these simple methods to clean their rock and mineral collections, revealing hidden features and bringing about an appreciation of natural beauty found in stones from the Crater of Diamonds and elsewhere.

Search area last plowed: July 1, 2021

Most recent significant rainfall: July 10, 2021

Diamond finds for the weeks of June 27 & July 4, 2021 (100 points = 1 carat):

June 27 – Kari Van der Hoek, Lawton, OK, 2 pt. white

June 29 – Wendy Bopst, Ponte Vedra, FL, 13 pt. white

June 30 – Jovey Troutt, Mt. Vernon, IL, 88 pt. brown; TJ & Jeff Richardson, Greenwood, AR, 20 pt. white

July 1 – Brittnee Waters, Excelsior Springs, MO, 25 pt. brown; Ashley Coffman, Fayetteville, AR, 10 pt. white

July 3 – TJ & Jeff Richardson, Greenwood, AR, 8 pt. white; Savannah Claire Lee, Plain Dealing, LA, 3 pt. white; Gabriel Hawthorn, Plain Dealing, LA, 2 pt. white; Robie McCarty, Elkins, AR, 1 pt. yellow

July 6 – Scott Kreykes, De Queen, AR, 2 pt. white

July 7 – Tanner Koutnik, Woodbridge, VA, 24 pt. white


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