Taking care of your pearls is very important. Pearls are produced by living organisms and are sensitive to chemicals and body fluids. Pearls contain proteins and water and should not be allowed to dry out.
Some pearls are sensitive to a ladies skin and the moisture from the skin. The skin produces an acid which, over time can wear away the nacre and cause the pearl to go barrel shaped. This means they should be cleared each time they are removed and you have finished wearing them.
Here are some things not to do when cleaning your pearls.
Never use acids or chemicals when cleaning your pearls. Not even detergents which can contain abrasives. Do not use any commercial jewelery cleaners, They may be fine for gemstones but they are not for pearls which are much softer. Some of these cleaners contain ammonia and this will cause deterioration of your pearl. Do not use an ultrasonic cleaner. It may cause damage to the pearl. Also keep away from steam cleaning. It generates too much heat and that can damage pearls too.
You can clean your pearls with a wipe from a damp soft cloth to clean them and keep them moist is all that is required. You can immerse them in salt water for a short period also as that helps to keep the pearls natural looking and moist. They should be wiped each time you remove them as that will prevent dirt from accumulating on them. To dry them simply lay them on a soft dry cloth until they dry naturally.
You should take your pearls to a professional jeweler check the pearl settings or strings to ensure they are secure and have not deteriorated.
Pearls should not be stored in with other jewelery, particularly gemstones and sharp jewelery items. Pearls are easily scratched and that not only destroys the value but mars the aesthetic appearance also.
Provided you take care of your pearls and look after them there is no reason why you should not have pearls that last you a life time.