How to Clean and Sterilize Body Piercing Jewelry

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 6, 2020
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

Wearing body piercing jewelry is safe, attractive, and fun. It’s best to clean your pieces regularly so they retain their shine and attractiveness, and so you can avoid any possibility of infection. 

We go over the fine points of cleaning and cleaners to make this task easy for you.


Clean Before Using

When you first buy a new piece of body piercing jewelry, clean it. You don’t know who handled it and what dirt or germs may be clinging to it, so you certainly don’t want to insert the piece before it is thoroughly clean. 

You also want to clean body piercing jewelry regularly to avoid bacteria buildup and the possibility of infection. Every two or three days is appropriate.

Cleaners to Avoid

Do not use alcohol or chemical-based cleaners to clean your body piercing jewelry. These cleaners can damage your jewelry, causing pitting, disintegration, discoloration, or all of these. The only exceptions are the solutions made for use with ultrasonic cleaners. Even some mouthwashes have alcohol, so if you are using mouthwash for cleaning oral pieces (see below), use a saline-based mouthwash.

Before You Start

Wash your hands thoroughly before cleaning your jewelry. Use antibacterial soap and warm water to wash. Dry your hands with a clean towel or paper toweling. Avoid using a towel that someone has used previously because it may be hiding germs.

Remove the jewelry piece and choose one of the methods below to clean it.

Antibacterial Soap and Water

Use this common method to clean most jewelry pieces. Suitable for stainless steel, gold, titanium, acrylic, glass, silver, and most other jewelry. The exception is mouth or tongue pieces (see separate section below). Soap residue does not taste good and is not appetizing! 

  1. Fill a clean bowl or cup with lukewarm water. Add a palm-full of antibacterial soap to this and mix it gently into the water. Place the article into the soapy water and allow it to soak for approximately three minutes. 
  1. Remove it from the soapy water and rinse it in clean, hot water, making sure all soap residue comes off. You don’t want any soap residue to remain that could infect the piercing. 
  1. Check the piece to make sure all debris are off. You may have to use a soft brush (think old toothbrush that you have sterilized) to carefully brush away any dirt or whatever that has remained on the piece.
  1. Place the jewelry piece on a gauze pad or piece of paper toweling and allow it to air dry. You can use a cloth towel to dry it but make sure the towel is newly laundered. You don’t want to re-establish bacteria onto the jewelry piece you just cleaned.

Clean the piercing itself before reinserting the jewelry using antibacterial soap and water.

Saline (Salt) Solution

This is another popular way to clean jewelry pieces. Mix one-quarter teaspoon of salt into one cup of warm water, or purchase saline solution for this. Put the solution into a clean spray bottle and spray the solution onto the piece. Let it soak in the solution for a few minutes. If you see any debris remaining, remove them with a Q-tip.

Allow the piece to dry thoroughly before reinserting.

Sterilize in Boiling Water

Use this method as an alternative to soap or if the piece has hard-to-remove dirt and may still be dirty even after cleaning with soap and water. NOTE: Not for jewelry pieces that have electronic components. 

  1. Bring some water to boil in a pot. 
  2. Place your piece in the water and allow the water with the piece in it to boil for approximately five minutes. This loosens any on the piece and sterilizes it. 
  3. Use tongs to take the piece out of the water.
  4. Dry the jewelry on a piece of gauze or paper toweling. 

Make sure the jewelry piece is cool and dry before reinserting.

Use an Ultrasonic Cleaner

You can save time and effort using this method, especially if you have many piercings with a number of pieces. 

  1. Place the pieces in the ultrasonic cleaner.
  2. Fill the cleaner with water to the level the instructions indicate.
  3. Close the cover.
  4. Turn on the power switch.

The cleaner creates ultrasonic vibrations that loosen debris and residue from your jewelry. Dry the pieces on a clean towel or paper toweling.

Cleaning Oral Pieces

This is a different method that allows you to avoid tasting and ingesting soap residue if you have lip, tongue, or cheek jewelry pieces. Soak them in no-alcohol mouthwash for a few minutes and clean any hard-to-remove debris with a Q-tip. Allow the pieces to dry on a piece of paper towel or gauze. 

Keep ‘Em Clean

Wearing body piercing jewelry is more fun and adds more to your style when you keep the pieces clean. Be sure to follow these methods of cleaning to reduce the risk of infection, and keep your stylish pieces comfortable and safe to wear.