Our Complete Guide To Cleaning And Recharging Your Crystals

By 6 p.m., most of us are battling traffic in an attempt to squeeze in a quick gym session, followed by the ritualistic warming up of leftovers and a post-shower reality TV binge before bed. On the weekends, we're juggling our social lives with family affairs, and if we're lucky, we might get a few hours of "me-time" in. Amidst all of this chaos in our daily lives, it can be easy to push aside self-care routines — and many days, we're lucky if we can find any time at all for our mental health and healing.

To take the hard work out of scheduling self-care time, a lot of folks rely on their collection of crystals — which, let's admit, have probably begun to collect dust in the corner. We hope or think that just being in the presence of crystals is offering some form of deep and metaphysical healing that doesn't take much effort to maintain, plus they look pretty. In reality, though, crystals take a lot more care than just allowing them to sit on a shelf or in a box somewhere. Crystals require regular cleansing, charging, and programming in order to maximize their full potential.

Because crystals are said to absorb energy, this means that any of the negative energy you are putting out into the world is being collected by your crystals, and in turn, they must be restored for you to get the most out of your crystals.

Is crystal cleansing really necessary?

Spending time cleaning crystals might not feel like it's in the cards most days. Won't the crystals still work without taking the time to clean them? To answer this question, we have to look at how healing crystals are believed to operate. Each crystal holds its own vibrations, frequency, and energy, which align with the energies of our own bodies to create a positive balance. But just as they react with our energy, they also absorb it. You can think of a crystal like a sponge — what it sucks in, it can also transmit back out, and the best way to ensure that it's not retaining residual energy is to cleanse it.

Moreover, the crystals that you use the most will hold far more energy than the ones you may have tucked away — which makes sense if you think about it. A crystal that's by your side at all times is going to be along for the ride during your highs, lows, and everything in between. Naturally, these go-to crystals are going to be in need of a little extra TLC when it comes to cleaning, so you can always be sure that they are prepared and ready to take on whatever challenges life may throw your way.

We recommend you cleanse your crystals about once a month, but if you feel like you're in a particularly low vibration or that there's bad energy around you more often, consider cleaning them weekly.

Cleansing crystals with the senses

While cleaning crystals sounds like it involves scrubbing your collection with soap and water, the focus actually lies more in cleansing what can't be seen with the eyes. Cleansing crystals is kind of like giving them a refreshing energy bath, and while you can use water to do this, there are other ways to invoke positive frequencies into your crystals. For example, we can simply use our senses — sound, visualizations, etc. — to spiritually remove negative energies.

Visualization methods are great because they require no extra materials other than your own mind. Melded Mind Metaphysical explains that the best way to visually clean your crystals is by sitting down with them in an undisturbed location and conducting a quiet meditation session. Then, you will envision a "pure white light beaming straight out of your third eye, surrounding the crystal with its glow like a protective shield." The light should act as a representation of all things positive as you picture its power washing away negativity.

While the visualization method requires no materials, it is a more time-consuming method because each crystal must be cleansed individually. If you're searching for a method that cleans a large number of crystals all at once, the use of sound with a singing bowl or tuning fork may be a better option for you. Sound works by putting forth vibrations that infiltrate their way into the formation of the crystal, and in turn, negative energy is broken down and dispersed.

Cleansing crystals with elements of nature

Crystals adore nature because, ultimately, it is where they were born. One of the most common crystal-cleansing practices is placing a crystal outside under a full moon in order to harness all of those powerful lunar energies. Sunlight can be great for cleaning, too, but it's important to remember that brightly colored stones are susceptible to fading if placed in the sun for too long.

Another fantastic way to use nature to cleanse? Try burying your crystals in dirt. "Dig a small hole where you would like to bury your stone, placing the soil you have removed into an earthenware pot or jar," Ashley Leavy, founder of Love and Light School of Crystal Therapy, tells MindBodyGreen. "Bury the crystal in the soil within the pot or jar. Then, lower the pot into the hole and cover it with the remaining soil. Mark your crystal with a flag or some other marker, and leave the stone buried for at least one week."

You may actually have powerful natural cleansing tools in your kitchen. Both salt and brown rice are believed to have absorbing properties that can easily suck out darker energies residing in a stone. Fill a bowl with brown rice or sea salt and place the crystal inside, completely immersing it overnight. However, be sure not to use the salt or rice for dinner the next day, as the negative energy needs to be disposed of.

Cleansing crystals with smoke

People from around the world have long relied on the properties of smoke from incense, sage, palo santo, and herbs for their healing properties. The sage technique we widely use today, which is called smudging, historically belongs to Native American tribes, but ritualistic practices involving the physical and metaphorical uses of smoke from woods, herbs, and plants can be traced back to many ancient cultures. Just as we can use smoke to clear negative energy out of our space and bodies, we can use it to remove bad vibrations from crystals.

According to Bliss Crystals, the best way to safely cleanse your crystals with sage is by using a fireproof bowl or shell. State your intention, light your bundle of sage, then smudge yourself and the room to clear away any negative energies that may be attached. Next, take one crystal in your hand, and hold it within the cascading smoke, making sure each part of the stone touches the tendrils. 

Cleansing with incense is similar, but it may be particularly beneficial if you experience anxiety. The aromas and scents within incense are said to have a calming effect, so using them in a cleansing ritual can really help keep your energies in the right place. The scents you choose can help combat any issues you may be having in your life. For instance, woody, earthy scents are used for grounding purposes, while fresh florals evoke serenity and peacefulness.

Cleansing with other stones and crystals

While cleaning crystals is important, interestingly enough, there are certain crystals that don't need to be cleaned at all. This is because the energy within them is already a cleansing energy — which means they are capable of regulating themselves and ridding other crystals of bad energies.

One of the most popular crystals to use to cleanse other stones is selenite. Selenite is often sold in the form of bowls, dishes, and plates specifically for the purpose of allowing other crystals to be placed inside for cleaning. In fact, crystal shop the Village Rock Shop even recommends keeping the crystals you use the most in a selenite dish at all times in order to keep their energy pure. Otherwise, you can place crystals in selenite dishes for a few hours at a time — up to 24 hours to really reap the benefits.

Additionally, you can use clear quartz to clean your crystals because, similarly to selenite, it does not need to be cleansed. To do this, simply place your crystals — including the clear quartz — together in a soft, scratch-free bag overnight.

Is charging crystals really necessary?

So you've chosen the best cleansing method that works for you, banished all negative energy, and you're feeling better than ever and refreshed. But hold up — we're not quite done here. The next step in your crystal journey is to recharge them. You've likely heard people using the terms "cleanse" and "charge" interchangeably, but they are, in fact, two completely different things. When you're cleaning a crystal, you are essentially removing and eliminating negative energies within its compounds. On the other hand, when you are charging a crystal, you are replacing the natural frequencies that may have escaped it from frequent use.

You can think of charging crystals the same way you think of charging your phone. When your mobile device is fully charged, it's performing better and faster, as well as emitting a lot of power. But the more you use it, the more its energy drains. Eventually, you have to plug it into a charger before it dies completely, and crystals function similarly. The more positive vibrations you pour into a crystal, the better it can be restored to its natural energetic state and have the ability to go longer between cleanings.

Because of this, it's important to charge your crystals after each time you clean them. It sounds like a lot, but luckily, there are some methods where you can cleanse and charge them at the same time.

Charging crystals under the sun and the moon

One of the easiest ways to charge a crystal is in sunlight. You can do this method with moonlight, too, but it is said to not be as powerful of a charge that way. First, you'll want to check online to be sure that your crystal is tolerant of sunlight; brightly colored crystals like amethyst, aquamarine, opal, and citrine can all fade or get overheated if left in the sun too long. If your crystal is cleared to be non-sensitive to the sun, go ahead and place it outside in direct sunlight for at least ten minutes — you can also hold it up to the sun for a stronger charge if you don't mind a quick arm workout. For even more optimum charging, leave your crystal out for 24 hours.

If you do happen to find that your crystal is sensitive to heat and sunlight, you can opt for a full moon charge. The full moon is when the moon is at its lunar peak, so this phase is considered to be the highest in terms of energy. Because moonlight is a much gentler charge than sunlight, you'll want to leave your crystals in the moon all night long to capture the most energy that you can. What's more, you don't need to worry about your crystals not hitting any beams of moonlight — the moon's energy can penetrate through even the densest of clouds.

Charging crystals with the elements

Just like crystals can be cleaned with elements like earth and water, they can be charged with nature as well. But like sunlight can have a damaging effect on certain crystals, so can water. You'll want to do your research on each specific crystal you own and what it can and can't handle. If your crystal can handle water, this is a wonderful way to instill a powerful charge. You can choose to use natural running water from a river or stream, or you can use your own running tap water. When you're charging with water, it's extremely important that you set your intentions as you charge. This can mean visualizing them, saying them out loud, or meditating as you hold your crystal underneath the flowing water for several minutes.

Moreover, earth has the capability of removing energy from crystals as well as charging them. In fact, it is said that the negative energy within a buried crystal will be removed and transmuted into positive vibrations. This means that when you bury a crystal in soil, it can actually be cleansed and charged at the same time. The main thing is to make sure you are leaving it buried for long enough for both processes to take effect — a few hours or overnight is ideal.

Programming your crystals

You can charge with water, earth, sound, sunlight, or herbs, but the main thing all of these charging methods have in common is that they all require one factor: intention. "When you program your crystals with a specific intention, it's like coding a software system," healing author Mariah K. Lyons tells Bustle. "You're energetically coding the energy of the mineral with your intention and desired outcome." Basically, after your crystal is cleansed and charged, it becomes somewhat of a clean slate. You can use this slate to make the crystal, ideally, whatever it means to you. For instance, if you're using a piece of amethyst to combat anxiety and stress, your programming sessions should focus on instilling that specific desire into the amethyst.

But how, exactly, do you go about setting an intention? YouAligned recommends taking the crystal in your left hand — your receiving hand — and physically and mentally connecting with it. Closing your eyes, visualize a bright light intertwining you with your crystal as you think or verbally state your intention three times. You can imagine your life with that intention being brought to fruition, send gratitude and thanks to your crystal, or mentally communicate to the crystal how the intention makes you feel when you think about it. All of these things are said to strengthen the energetic bond between your vibrations and the crystal's.

Storing your crystals

The way in which we choose to store our crystals can have a major impact on their energy and how often they will need to be cleansed and recharged. As beautiful as crystals are to have on full display, the more "out in the open" a crystal is, the more at-risk it is of receiving damage from sunlight, water, scratches, negative energy, and even shattering. While these issues sound like minor cosmetic problems, they can actually affect the overall effectiveness of the crystal by altering its energy. At this point, what's the purpose of even owning crystals if they don't work or look pretty anymore?

Your best bet is to store your crystals in a soft bag or lined box — the lining will keep the stones from getting scratched. While crystals can be stored together, naturally their energies will mingle, so it's good to organize them by intention, hardness, textures, healing properties, etc. Some crystals even work better together, like obsidian and smoky quartz for protection, so consider doing some research on your specific crystals and pairing them together based on which combinations will make them most powerful.