How To Clean Earrings Without Ruining Them, Because Dirty Jewelry Can Cause Infections

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I like to clean my jewelry on occasion, especially if they're special pieces, like my wedding ring. For me, it's out of total vanity — I want that thing to shine like Kanye bought it for me. But making sure your items sparkle is about more than just looks. It turns out that not cleaning the rest of my jewelry can be unsanitary, which is why I learned how to clean earrings, so that my bling can stay fresh and clean, and my ears remain infection-free.

The truth is, no matter how expensive a piece of jewelry is, if it's dirty, it can cause infections. This is especially true for earrings, considering that a piercing hole is an easy place for dirt and grime to become trapped. And, of course, when an earring isn't clean, that can only make matters worse! If you just got a new piercing, making sure the area is clean is vital. But since your piercings are still healing for at least the first six weeks after getting it done, you won't be able to take out the jewelry just yet. However, you can still you can still clean your earrings daily while they're in your ears by using a cotton pad or Q-tip to apply the cleaning solution given to you by your piercer.

Even once your ears have healed, it's still important to take your earrings out every night and clean both the jewelry and your ear area by using cleaning solution, rubbing alcohol, and a cotton pad.

But of course, most of us want to make sure that we're not damaging our bling while trying to keep it clean. Here's a quick 3-step tutorial on how to disinfect your jewels, while still keeping them in tact.

1. Wash Your Hands

Making sure to wash your hands, and under your finger nails, before removing your jewelry is vital. Starting off with clean fingers will minimize the chance of you spreading around bacteria while cleaning your ears and earrings.

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2. Use Sanitizing Solution

Next, grab hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol — if your piercing has already healed — as well as a Q-tip or cotton. But if your piercing is fresh, use the sanitizing formula your piercing technician gave you. Using the other two products can actually delay the healing process by drying out the skin and killing new, healthy cells, according to Berkeley University Health Services.

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3. Remove Earrings

If your piercing has healed, gently remove your earrings and carefully wipe them down with the cotton pad, soaked in sanitizing solution. It's important to do this to your everyday earrings, and brand new ones, to continuously keep the area clean. If you can't remove your piercing just yet, simply rotate the earring slowly while you wipe the earring using a Q-tip.

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This easy technique should work like a dream and keep your ears healthy. But if for any reason you have swelling, itching, or tenderness around your piercing site, it may be infected. So make sure to visit your piercer or a doctor to have them take a look.

This post was originally published on Aug. 12, 2015. It was updated and republished on June 18, 2019 date. Additional reporting by Kayla Greaves.

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