The Hygienic Reason Why Your Bedtime Routine Needs To Include Cleaning Your Earring Backs

When you get your ears pierced, you're typically given extensive instructions and possibly even a dedicated product for cleaning your new piercings. Once your piercings have healed and you've moved on with your new life as a regular earring wearer, however, there aren't a lot of resources for learning how to practice good piercing hygiene. If you were asked about how often you should clean your earring backs and how to go about doing so, you might struggle to find a confident answer.


You should actually be cleaning the backs and posts of your earrings at least one night per week, according to PhoneSoap. If you have sensitive skin or metal allergies, you may need to clean them even more often. Earring posts and backs can collect bacteria, skin oils, and buildup from skin and hair products. When this debris isn't removed and the jewelry sanitized, even long-healed piercings can become infected (via Today). Here's how to keep your earrings and ear piercings clean and healthy. 

How to clean earring backs

Once you've decided it's time to give your earring backs a cleaning, make sure you have access to all the materials you'll need to get the job done. Saline solution or anti-bacterial soap are the gentlest options for the skin in and around your piercings. If it has been a long time since you've removed your earrings and cleaned them or you don't suffer from sensitive skin, you may wish to use a stronger solution like rubbing alcohol or witch hazel (via Stitch Fix). You'll also need something to apply the solution with, such as cotton rounds or swabs.


Gently remove your earrings from your ears and set them aside. Generously apply your cleaning solution to the back of one of the earrings and rub away any residue with your cotton round or swab. Repeat the process on the other earring's back. Then, wipe the front and back of your ear piercings with the cleaning solution before moving on to cleaning the posts and reinserting your earrings. This clears the area of bacteria that can cause infection and smelly buildup, as detailed by Medical News Today

Infection vs contact dermatitis

If you've been cleaning your earring backs and posts regularly and you're still experiencing potential signs of infection like redness, rash, swelling, oozing, or severe itching in your ear piercings, you may have a metal allergy. Approximately 20% of people are allergic to nickel, the most common metal used in earrings and body jewelry. Many aren't aware of this allergy (via Blomdahl). When someone with a nickel allergy wears earrings that contain nickel, prolonged exposure to the allergen can lead to the development of contact dermatitis. This presents in a very similar way to an infection, as explained by the Mayo Clinic.


If your symptoms resolve when you remove your earrings, the issue is likely a metal allergy. If they persist, you should seek out medical treatment. Replacing your earrings with nickel-free metals like titanium or gold can allow you to wear jewelry without risking a painful or irritating reaction in the future.