How To Make Sure Your Earring Backs Stay Clean And Hygienic If You Wear Them Every Day

If you've ever left the house in a hurry and then felt suddenly naked when you realize you've forgotten earrings, then you probably understand the urge to simply wear them for days on end. Sure, the pointy posts of your studs may dig into your neck while you're trying to sleep, but these are the things we do for beauty. And with the advent of flat-back earrings, that discomfort can be avoided, so why not leave your earrings in for a few nights (or a few weeks)? It makes your morning routine quicker, looks cute 24/7, and helps you avoid the unfortunate event when your piercing hole closes.

However, there is a price to pay for convenience, and, in this case, that price is hygiene. For one thing, grime like dirt, sweat, and hair products can build up on your jewelry and dull its sparkle. For another, when you wear your studs without a break, the skin underneath gets little chance to breathe and can end up as a playground for dead skin cells and bacteria. To keep things clean, fresh, and infection-free, it's essential to ensure that your earrings (and their backs!) are sanitized on a regular basis — ideally, at least once a week (via Cleanipedia).

Signs it's time to clean your earrings

We've all been guilty of wearing our earrings too long, but there are certain signs that it's time to slip those babies out and give them some TLC. First, do the gems or metals on your earrings seem duller? They're probably laboring under a film of impurities hiding their true cute factor. Giving them a quick douse and polish won't just make them safer to wear but also put a little luster back into your accessory game.

Next, we have to address the elephant in the room. If you've ever been playing with your earrings and noticed a funky, off-putting smell, then it's definitely time to sanitize. Your earrings are almost certainly trapping bacteria against your skin, and you're running the risk of an infected piercing if you don't freshen up (via Dr. Piercing).

And, of course, you'll definitely want to clean your earrings and their backs if you start to notice any symptoms of infection, like hot skin around the piercing. These symptoms could also include swelling, redness, pus, and soreness (via Healthline). If you think you have an infected piercing, don't panic — it's a reasonably common issue that can usually be treated with salt water and an antibiotic cream (via Mayo Clinic). Still, unless it's a brand-new piercing, it is time to take out and clean your jewelry. So what's the best way to sterilize your favorite earrings without damaging them?

Cleaning earrings and earring backs

When cleaning any type of jewelry, you need to consider the materials it's made of. Different metals and gems may respond to certain cleaners or suffer damage from others. If you're using dedicated jewelry-cleaning products, they should specify on the packaging which materials are safe for use. For example, the ever-popular and inexpensive jewelry cleaner by Weiman is formulated specifically for gold, platinum, titanium, and hard gems like diamonds and sapphires.

Even if you're trying to make your own DIY cleaning mix at home, you should still check beforehand that it's compatible with the earrings you want to clean. For instance, the rumors about using ketchup and toothpaste are highly discouraged, as they can damage some jewelry.

Earring backs often have curves or grooves that can hide contaminants, so it can help to give them a gentle scrub with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Do the same with any earring fronts that have intricate or textured designs. You can also buy special polishing gloves to use with your preferred jewelry cleaner, such as Sunshine Polishing Cloths, which are beloved by jewelers. Or, for a thorough, hands-off clean, you can get ultrasonic jewelry cleaners that use the power of soundwaves to bubble away impurities. One popular option comes from Magnasonic, for instance.

If it's a new piercing, you can't remove the earrings for cleaning. Instead, wash your ears with mild soap and water daily, twist the earrings a few times to stop any build-up from forming, and apply rubbing alcohol to the piercing twice a day. This will keep bacteria and other nasties from colonizing your earrings, even if you can't take them out (via the American Academy of Dermatology).