How to Clean Body Jewelry – Sterilization Techniques

Nose piercings
Nose piercings

What good is there in keeping your piercings clean if your body jewelry isn’t?

You should make sure to clean and sterilize your body jewelry from time to time, especially if your piercing is new and still healing.

I would also recommend that you clean any new jewelry you purchase before you wear it, just to ensure that it is properly sterile.

The importance of knowing how to clean body jewelry in all different materials I cannot stress enough.

Today I am going to show you the various different cleaning methods and which types of jewelry each can be safely used on.

Note: Never use alcohol, peroxide or any other harsh chemicals!

how to clean body jewelry at home

For those of you who do no have access to professional jewelry cleaning machines and expensive equipment. It is possible to do a thorough cleaning job from your home using everyday household items.

Anti-bacterial soap and water

Antibacterial soap
Cidal Antibacterial soap

One of the most common methods used for cleaning body jewelry. Anti-bacterial soap and water is safe to use on most jewelry types and materials.

Here is how it is done:

  1. All you need to do is simply to soak your jewelry in warm water with anti-bacterial soap.
  2. If there are any crusty bits stuck you should use a soft bristled toothbrush to scrub them off.
  3. Rinse off the soap using running water when you are done.

This method can be used on the following jewelry materials:

  • Stainless steel
  • Titanium
  • Niobium
  • Gold and gold plated steel
  • Silver
  • Silicone
  • Acrylic and dental acrylic
  • PTFE (Monofilament nylon and teflon)
  • Pyrex Glass and Quartz glass
  • Bioplast

Mild soap and water

For certain materials commonly used in ear plugs and tunnels extra care is needed.

This particularly applies to most organic materials.

  • Use luke warm water and mild soap.
  • Do not allow to soak or make prolonged contact with water
  • Always dry immediately

Use this method for horn, bone and stone.

For wood jewelry you should just give a quick wipe with a damp cloth every once in a while. Wood should be kept as dry as possible. I would also recommend you polish wood with natural plant oil such as jojoba oil or coconut oil. You can also use these oils to polish you horn and bone jewelry.

Aftercare Solutions

Just as effective as anti-bacterial soap and specially designed for use on piercings.

I would recommend the EasyPiercing Care Kit. If you would like to read a detailed review on this product and where to purchase it please click here.

Boiling

Boiling is one of the most effective methods of cleaning body jewelry and piercing equipment.

All you need to do is boil some water and soak your jewelry in it for 45 minutes.

Make sure to dry it properly afterwards.

If soaking in warm water and using anti-bacterial soap does not do the job, certain types of jewelry are safe to boil. This applies to the following:

  • Steel
  • Titanium
  • Niobium
  • PTFE (Monofilament nylon and teflon)
  • Bioplast
  • Pyrex glass and Quartz glass

Steam treatment

The most effective home cleaning technique. All you need is a cooker, which you should clean before using it for this  purpose. You should also acquire some autoclave bags to hold your jewelry.

Follow these directions for proper execution of the steam treatment process:

  1. Place your jewelry in a oven safe bowl of water, inside an autoclave bag, this will allow for maximum steam penetration.
  2. You should leave the jewelry in the oven for at least 45 minutes or allow for 10 to 12 whistles.
  3. Dry the jewelry thoroughly before wearing.

This process if done correctly will kill of all the spores and bacteria.

This method is safe for the following types of jewelry:

  • Solid steel, solid titanium, niobium
  • PTFE (Monofilament nylon and teflon)
  • Dental acrylic
  • Flexible plastic
  • Bioplast
  • Pyrex glass and quartz glass
  • Silicone

Professional cleaning methods

If you have to clean large amounts of jewelry on a regular basis you may want to consider buying a cleaning device. These are excellent for professional piercers. There are two main types of machine which are used to clean body jewellery.

Autoclave

An autoclave is a device often used for sterilization of medical, piercing and tattoo equipment.

In a professional setting autoclaving is the most effective cleaning method. This process uses high pressure steam to clean and sterilize equipment and jewelry. Most bacteria will be killed off, leaving the items completely safe for usage.

Not all body jewelry materials are safe for usage in an autoclave. Some of the more delicate materials would not bee able to withstand the high pressure and would get damaged.

The following jewelry types are suitable for autoclave cleaning:

  • Solid steel
  • Solid Titanium
  • Niobium
  • PTFE (Monofilament nylon and teflon)
  • Dental acrylic
  • Flexible plastic
  • Bioplast
  • Pyrex glass and quartz glass
  • Silicone

For the average person an autoclave machine is something that probably isn’t worth them spending their money on. For professional piercers and tattooists it is something that will make the jewelry and equipment cleaning process much more efficient.

Ultrasonic cleaners

 

Ultrasound cleaner
Ultrasonic cleaner

An ultrasonic cleaner is a device which uses ultrasound and a cleaning agent in order to clean the item. Ultrasonic cleaners can be used with plain tap water or a more specific  solvent designed for the purpose of cleaning a specific material.

Ultrasonic cleaners are great for both professional piercers and for home use due to their relatively small size.

Most jewelry types can be safely used in an ultrasonic cleaner. Take care when cleaning jewelry which contains parts made of any of these materials:

  • Pearl
  • Opal
  • Emerald
  • Tanzanite
  • Lapis
  • Turquoise
  • Malachite
  • Coral
  • Pyrex glass

Warning: You should be careful when using stronger solvents. Any adverse effects of the solvent will be exacerbated by the ultrasonics.

Conclusion

Generally speaking, you can use any of these methods for sufficient body jewelry cleaning.

Your body jewelry should be completely sterile and clean after using the cleaning methods above. If not, then it is about time you replace your old jewelry.

Even if your piercing is healed, you still put yourself at risk on infection by wearing crusty or dirty body jewelry.

If you have any other cleaning methods or any questions, please leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

14 Comments on How to Clean Body Jewelry – Sterilization Techniques

  1. Hey there! Came across your article and wanted to chime in! My best friends wife has a belly button piercing. I just asked her the other day if she cleans it and she told me she does like once every month. I told her it’s probably a good idea to do it maybe once a week. What would you recommend for cleaning? How often? She does use Antibacterial soap but I feel she doesn’t do it enough. She has had it get infected in the past before from dirt.

    • Hey John.

      Your friend’s wife should be cleaning her belly button piercing once a week or at least once a fortnight. Especially since it has been infected before.

      I would recommend she continues using her antibacterial soap (fragrance free and alcohol free) but just start cleansing it more often, say once a week. This should prevent future infections.

      Thanks for stopping by.
      Hannah

  2. I have had my ears pierced for the past 45 years+ and have always used alcohol to clean my earrings. I never really thought about it being a harsh chemical but I see what you mean. I tend not to keep earrings in as my bird thinks they are for him to play with so I only wear them when going out.

    What about baking soda? Would that be any good to clean jewellery with?

    • Hi Maureen.

      Rather than using alcohol or baking soda to clean your ears, I would recommend you use saline solution. You can’t really go wrong with it. All you need is warm water and a quarter of a teaspoon of sea salt or a teaspoon of table salt.

      It’s more for new piercings that are still healing that I recommend not using alcohol. This is because it dries the skin and can slow down healing.

      Thanks for reading.
      Hannah.

  3. hi Hannah
    wow great info on how to clean your jewelry! I had no idea I was doing something wrong this whole time! I was cleaning new pieces with peroxide as I was told a long time ago that it would disinfect everything. But I see now that anti-bacterial soap and water would accomplish the same thing. I use to date a guy who tattooed (turned out to be a real jerk but was a good artist for certain things) and I remember him mentioning his ultrasonic cleaner for his equipment and how he would clean his jewelry in it. They also sell those kits with the liquid you soak your jewelry in and then wipe with this soft cloth. The difference in the metal with those kits is just astonishing. Have you ever used those?

    • Hey Emily.
      You will find that antibacterial soap is every bit as effective as peroxide for sterilization purposes, plus a lot safer.

      Yeah some of the liquid cleaning solutions like you mentioned are very good too. They certainly do the job but I don’t find them to be any more effective than antibacterial soap. Comes down to a bit of personal preference, either can do the job.

      Thanks for the comment.
      Hannah.

  4. Hi Hanna! Back when my daughter was barely a teen, she was practicing to try out for cheer leading. She raised her hands and her shirt came up enough for me to see her belly piercing. Her friend had done it for her. Made me mad, because that is a little too close to your intestines to be messing with. I didn’t want it getting infected, so I immediately took her to the store and got some solution for her. I wish I had known about cleaning with antibacterial soap back then, I had some in my house and we lived 18 miles from the nearest store!
    Thanks for the info!
    ~ Melinda

    • Hey Melinda.

      I would say that you made the right decision buying the cleaning solution for your daughter’s piercing. At least you know it was designed to sterilize. It wouldn’t have been a good idea to simply guess that antibacterial soap was safe for use on piercings anyway.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Hannah.

  5. Hi Hannah,

    When I bounced into your article I immediately thought: You clean those things with pure alcohol of course!
    So you see, I am not an experienced guy in this matter…
    Anyway, it is good to know this, cause I might not have any body jewelry, I have other things that are made of those materials, so now I know what to do.
    And indeed I think a lot of people who have body jewelry do not clean it enough and do not realize how important it can be, so they can wear it for a long time….

    Grtz,
    Bert

    • Hey there bert!

      When I say not to use alcohol on body jewelry that’s because alcohol is a strong chemical on the piercing, which is essentially a wound. For certain items which don’t enter your body in any way, alcohol should be fine, it does depend on what the item is though.

      But for body jewelry you should never clean with alcohol. Cleaning frequently using the correct techniques is very important.

      Thanks for taking your time to read and comment my post.
      Hannah.

  6. I always wanted to have a body piercing but i have little hesitations because I don’t know how can i clean them. Good thing I have read your article and learned that even just soap and water can clean them. Can I use just any brand of soap or is there a specific kind that I should use? I would really appreciate your help. Thanks

    • Hi John.

      The brand of soap I would recommend would be Cidal. Dettol also make a good quality anti-bacterial soap. Always make sure the soap is alcohol free and suitable for sensitive skin.

      You should be able to find a decent soap in a pharmacy or beauty shop. If not, buy it on Amazon.
      Hannah.

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