How to Clean Piercings

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 11, 2020
    Last Updated: November 16, 2020

Getting a new piercing is exciting, but then comes the aftercare. This is the part that a lot of people struggle with. Whether they have trouble remembering or they’re just not using the right technique, not correctly cleaning a new piercing can lead to big trouble.

If you want to know how to keep your new piercing clean, read on.


Choose a Licensed Piercer

Before diving into how to clean your new piercing, we want to highlight the importance of going to a licensed piercer.  

It might be tempting to get a piercing from a friend or retailer willing to do it for free or next to nothing, but cheap doesn’t equal quality. You have to remember; you want this piercing to last, which is why you have to go to a licensed piercer.

Working with a professional will automatically lower your chances of infection simply because they know what they’re doing. A licensed piercer knows the right techniques, has the right tools, and knows how to prevent an infection. 

Finding one might sound intimidating, but it just takes a little research. 

First, start by locating reputable piercing studios in your city. Check their reviews to confirm their level of quality, and look at images or their work. Lastly, verify the Association of Professional Piercers certifies them.

This might seem like too much trouble to get a piercing, but once you find the right person, you won’t regret it. Going to someone unqualified will not only waste your time, but you might end up needing a new piercing too.

How to Clean a New Piercing

Choosing the right piercer for the job is only the first step in caring for your piercing, but it’s time to learn how to clean it too. The standard is to use a saline solution.

But what is a saline solution? It’s simply a mixture of salt and water. This basic formula is commonly used throughout the medical industry to clean wounds, treat dehydration, and clear sinuses. It’s a natural anti-bacterial agent that’s also gentle, making it perfect for piercings.

You can purchase premade saline solutions through your piercer, but you can also make it at home. Follow this simple recipe to make your own saline:

What You’ll Need

  • Tap water
  • Fine sea salt or table salt (iodine-free)
  • A pot for boiling water
  • Clean jar 
  • Measuring cup and a teaspoon
  • Baking soda (not required)

How to Make Saline Solution

  • Before starting, you have to wash a jar to store your solution in. Make sure you wash it with hot water and soap, thoroughly rinsing it. This prevents bacteria from getting into the jar. Once clean, dry your jar and set it aside.
  • Boil two cups of water covered for 15 minutes.
  • Allow the water to cool to room temperature.
  • Add one teaspoon of salt and a pinch of baking soda (optional).
  • Refrigerate in an airtight container for 24 hours.

Once you have your saline solution ready, clean your piercing twice a day with a cotton pad or swab. Be sure to dab the area and not wipe it, which can cause bleeding. Also, I suggest making a new batch daily to avoid unwanted bacteria from getting in your jar. 

More importantly, never use rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or witch hazel to clean your piercing. These are all much too harsh for regular use, especially on a fresh piercing. They can dry out the skin, damage healthy skin, and cause the piercing to heal slower.

If you’d rather skip making your own saline solution, there are plenty of ready-to-use products available to purchase.

The best aftercare product I’ve personally used is the After Inked Piercing Aftercare Spray. Not only is it vegan, but it’s also completely alcohol and additive-free. The solution works well on all skin types including sensitive skin, and it comes in a generously-sized mist-spraying bottle for easy application. When using it from the very start of the healing process, the spray helps to decrease healing times and aims to eliminate any lingering pain or soreness.

Caring for a Piercing

Now that you know how to clean it, check out these extra tips that will make caring for your new piercing manageable. 

Wash Your Hands

Before you start cleaning your piercing, make sure your hands are clean first. Even if they don’t feel dirty, there may be harmful bacteria and debris that can lead to an infection.

Make It Part of Your Routine

The best way to make sure you clean your piercing enough is to add it to your daily routine. It’s effortless if you clean it when you get ready for the day and right before bed. 

Avoid Getting Beauty Products on the Piercing

If you are getting any ear piercing, be careful to avoid getting hair products or makeup on them. This can irritate the area and affect the healing process. 

Don’t Lie on the Piercing For Too Long

Be careful not to lie on a piercing site for too long while you’re sleeping or relaxing. Covering it up for long periods can trap moisture and bacteria, leading to a higher risk of infection.

Avoid Swimming

When you’re waiting for a piercing to heal, it’s best to avoid swimming or any water activity. Public pools, lakes, and beaches are riddled with bacteria that can infect the area.

Signs of an Infection

Knowing how to clean a new piercing is only one part of taking care of it. You also need to know what red flags to look for so you can avoid a nasty infection. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • The surrounding area is pink or red, swollen, and hot.
  • There’s blood coming out of the piercing site.
  • There’s discolored pus coming out (either white, green, or yellow)
  • You feel hot, shivery, or unwell in general

Remember that it’s normal for a fresh piercing to feel itchy, tender, and produce a pale fluid that can crust around the area. So if any of this is happening, don’t feel alarmed. But if you find yourself experiencing any of the above symptoms, you have an infection. 

What To Do About an Infection

If you find yourself with an infected piercing, don’t remove the jewelry unless your doctor tells you to do so. Depending on the infection’s severity, you may need to have a professional clean it thoroughly, but your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic cream, ointment, or pills. 

Final Thoughts

Caring for your piercing is easy. As long as you clean it often and correctly, your piercing won’t have any trouble healing. Best of all, now that you know how to take care of your latest piercing, you’ll be ready to add more soon.