Cleaning An Ear Piercing: Simply & Effectively

Ear piercings are an awesome way to express your personality and sense of style. With the wide variety of piercing types that are available, you have seemingly limitless choices when it comes to what piercings you should get. However, no matter what type of piercing you get, cleaning your ear piercing will be a vital part of the overall healing process.

Why Cleaning Your Ear Piercing Is So Important

Cleaning your ear piercing regularly is absolutely vital. Your piercing must be allowed to heal properly, which can take anywhere from weeks to months depending on the area where you get it done. The only way that your piercing will heal properly is if you keep it clean at all times.

Failing to keep your piercing clean can mean infections, which can ultimately make it take even longer for your piercing to heal or require you to take out your jewelry. Complications from infected piercings are no fun at all, so trust us when we tell you that you have to make every effort to maintain your cleaning regimen.

How To Clean Your Ear Piercing

First things first…do not attempt to clean your piercing right away when you get home. In fact, don’t touch your piercing or the area around it for the first 24 hours after you’ve had your piercing done. The area will still likely be painful, and you need to let the piercing settle down slightly.

Most of the time, your ear piercer will recommend sea salt soaks to keep your piercings clean. This can be very easy, as you can simply dip your lobe piercing in a cup of warm salt water or the solution provided by your ear piercer.

Of course, if you have a cartilage piercing, it will be a little more difficult to do. Some ear piercers will recommend that you use a Q-tip or other cotton swab to probe the area around your piercing gently after dipping it into your approved cleaning solution.

You’ll also need to be aware that cleaning industrial piercings and other variations with multiple wounds will be a bit more important, as there are more areas for bacteria to enter.

Instead of sea salt soaks, some piercers will recommend a mild soap for cleaning. In this case, it can be as simple as squirting a very small part of the soap onto each side of the piercing a couple of times per day. Just rinse it off after about 15 to 30 seconds of letting it soak after squirting the area.

Make note that you should never use harsh soaps or anti-bacterial products to clean your ear piercings. You should also avoid using healing ointments, which can actually impair airflow to the area and increase healing times.

How To Clean An Ear Piercing

The best aftercare product I’ve personally used is the After Inked Piercing Aftercare Spray. Not only is it vegan-friendly, 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.​

6 Important Ear Piercing Aftercare Steps You Must Ensure You Take:

While cleaning, you’re likely to occasionally notice crusty, clear, yellowish fluids come out of your piercing. This is completely normal. Don’t use your fingers to remove these “crusties.” Instead, try to get them out using a cotton swab in a gentle sweeping motion.

In addition to your cleaning regimen, you have to make sure that your daily habits aren’t putting your piercing’s healing at risk. Keep your hands clean if you must touch anywhere around the area of your piercing. Do what you must to prevent dirt and oils from getting near the area, too.

Overall, avoid letting anything come in contact with your piercing whenever possible. This not only means your hands, but anything else, too. For ear piercings, this may mean trying to sleep on the other side of your head from where your new piercing is.

Just in case, make sure your pillow and pillowcase are clean since they’ll probably come in contact with your ear piercing.

Another important thing to note is not to be alarmed if you notice swelling, tenderness, or bruising early on in the healing process. This is normal when you’ve just had a piercing done, although you definitely shouldn’t be experiencing it weeks later.

The same is true for itching or even discoloration, although you should definitely let your piercer know if you see any pus coming from the area.

One more thing that you should know: Don’t follow the outdated advice that you should “twist” your starter jewelry regularly to avoid it somehow getting stuck in your piercing. This advice has long been given by inexperienced piercers at mall stores, but it can actually end up irritating your piercing.

Also, if you twist your jewelry, bacteria and crusty secretions that normally would work their way out of your piercing will instead get stuck inside. This can obviously lead to an infection in no time. If your jewelry feels “stuck,” it’s likely due to swelling, which will go down with normal aftercare.

How Often Should You Clean An Ear Piercing?

Answers vary when it comes to how many times you should clean your new ear piercing per day. While some piercers may advise you to clean your piercing twice, others may advise you to do so as many as three or four times per day.

Ninety-nine times out of one hundred, you should simply follow your piercing professional’s instructions right down to the letter. He or she is the one who performed the piercing and looked at the area in person, so their opinion on cleaning frequency is going to be the most relevant one to you as you move forward.

It is worth saying that you can clean a piercing too often. In fact, this is sometimes a problem that people encounter when they get their first ear piercing ever. In the effort to keep their ear piercing as clean as possible, many well-intentioned people will actually clean their piercing too much and irritate the area.

Remember, you’re not just looking to fight off infections and keep the area clean. You are also looking to reduce inflammation and irritation in the area.

If you clean too regularly or too abrasively, you will irritate the area and potentially cause inflammation or swelling. This can keep your ear piercing from healing in the proper fashion.

When Can I Stop Cleaning My Ear Piercing?

Many people who get a new piercing are extremely anxious to know when their piercing will be all healed up.

As the weeks go by and they continue what can be an annoying cleaning regimen, people are even more interested in knowing how long it will take before they can go on without doing daily cleanings.

The general time frame for earlobe piercings to heal all the way is about six weeks. Cartilage piercings take a little bit longer, with most estimates coming out to about twelve weeks.

There are a couple of things to consider with these estimates, of course. One thing to remember is that the time frames presented here are defined according to the scenario that you have not had any infections or setbacks during the healing process. If infections or bad inflammation occur, healing times can take a little longer, and cleaning infected ear piercings can be a little more involved/painful.

Also, there are other factors that can increase or even decrease the amount of healing time needed.

These factors can include how well the piercing was performed, the specific area that you got pierced (different parts of cartilage can take more or less time to fully heal), or even what type of starter jewelry you chose.

If possible, it may be wise to consult with your ear piercer regarding whether you’re ready to end your regular cleaning regimen for good. They can take a look at your piercing and give you a sound professional opinion on where you’re at in the healing process.

If you can’t consult with your piercer, go the amount of time that was suggested to you when you got your piercing done. When the time has elapsed, check your piercing and make sure there isn’t any swelling, inflammation, or other signs of distress in the area.

If everything’s okay, you’re probably safe to switch out your jewelry and end your intensive cleaning regimen.

How To Clean Your Ear Piercing Jewelry

While you don’t need to continue your full cleaning regimen after your initial healing period has been successfully completed, that doesn’t mean that you’re done trying to keep your piercing clean. You’ll just have to change your methods.

Fortunately, keeping your ear jewelry clean is much easier than taking care of a new piercing.

To sterilize your ear piercing jewelry, simply let it soak in rubbing alcohol for a little bit before you put it in your ear. This will just take a few seconds and doesn’t have to be done every day by any means.

Alternatively, a quick warm water rinse will also work wonders and keep your jewelry clean so that you can avoid the possibility of painful, inconvenient ear piercing infections.


Hopefully, you now understand the importance of cleaning your ear piercing during the healing process. Sometimes it may seem like a pain to have to interrupt your day to undergo your cleaning regimen. It’s also pretty easy to forget to do it entirely. However, it’s 100% necessary to keep your cleaning program going if you want your piercing to heal perfectly and look the way you always wanted it to.