How to Clean Earrings & Ear Piercings

Updated April 17, 2017

Approximately three-quarters to four-fifths of American women have pierced ears, according to a 2004 article from Medical News Today. This prevalence can make the procedure seem safe and harmless. The truth is that getting your ears pierced can pose a health risk. If you do not care for your new piercings properly -- or in some cases even if you do -- they may become infected. In mild cases, this infection clears up easily. For those less fortunate, however, a serious infection can lead to permanent disfiguration. Do your best to avoid infection by cleaning your piercings and earrings properly.

Wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap in preparation. Touching your newly pierced ears with unclean hands can lead to infection.

Apply rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or a saline solution (as directed by your piercer) to a cotton ball.

Wipe the piercing and the earring gently with the wet cotton ball. You do not need to scrub, and doing so may irritate the piercing.

Rotate the earring gently in the ear. This helps keep the healing skin from sticking to it or forming scar tissue.

Dry your ear carefully with a paper towel, taking care to avoid snagging the earring with the towel. Repeat this process twice daily for best results.

Wash any earrings you wish to put into your ears with antibacterial hand soap and warm water. Wash the earrings for a full three minutes, making sure to scrub any hard-to-reach areas. Rinse the earrings thoroughly to remove any traces of soap.


Do not pick or scratch at your ear as it heals. There may be a crusty build-up; this is normal and will fall off naturally.

Things You'll Need

  • Anti-bacterial soap
  • Rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or a saline solution
  • Cotton ball
  • Paper towel
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About the Author

Morgan O'Connor has been writing professionally since 2005. Her experience includes articles on various aspects of the health-insurance industry for health-care newsletters distributed to hospitals as well as articles on both international and domestic travel.