How to Sterilize and Clean Your Earrings, Rings and Other Jewelry at Home

How to Sterilize and Clean Your Earrings, Rings and Other Jewelry at Home

by Anelia Kuzmanova

We give importance in washing our hands regularly with soap and water, use of alcohol to disinfect our hands, phones, and others. However, how about our jewelry? Have we thought about sterilizing our rings that touch everything our hands touches? Cleaning our bracelets that come in contact with surfaces like tables, and disinfecting our necklaces that get soaked in our sweat and accumulate body oils and dirt. Did you know that there are products and ways on how to sanitize and clean our jewelry at home? What are these products, and are we using it the right way? If we need to wash our hands for 20 seconds to kill bacteria, then how long do we need to soap our pieces of jewelry? How about the compatibility of the product with our base material? We might unknowingly be using harmful substances that cause more harm than good to our delicate jewelry.

Why do we need to sanitize our jewelry?

News about the virus known as Covid-19 has been on the news for months now. It reminded us that there are harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live on surfaces even on our jewelry, particularly on those small cracks or holes that remain moist when it gets wet. Add dirt and body oils and voila! A perfect condition to house these microorganisms. It is essential to clean and disinfect our jewelry when we can. Note that basic cleaning and maintenance are different from sterilizing or disinfecting our jewelry.

What's the difference between cleaning and sanitizing jewelry?

Cleaning

Cleaning only means taking away dirt and other substances that may affect the aesthetics of our jewelry. Here are some explanations about why we need to clean our pieces of jewelry regularly.

a) Brings back its original luster

    Who wants an old looking and dull jewelry, right? Regular cleaning would keep and maintain the jewelry's smooth surface and shine.

    b) Longevity

      Regular cleaning lengthens its durability by getting rid of natural oil that accumulates on the surface of our jewelry. Any residue left on the surface of your jewelry would contribute to the premature aging of your jewelry.

      c) Prevent accumulation of grime and dirt

        Small scratches may become a breeding ground for unwanted creatures like bacteria and fungus. Instead of feeling beautiful and light, we might get sick when we unknowingly absorb these harmful elements.

        Washing with soft soaps and water, or baking soda to rid of grimes and soap residues. Polishing with metal polish may also remove stains and dirt from the surface of the jewelry.

        Guides and steps to clean our pieces of jewelry by using household products:

        Simple and effective soap and water solution

          Regular washing of liquid soaps can remove light to moderate dirt on our pieces of jewelry. Even soapy water can do the trick.

          Procedure:

          1. Mix one part of liquid soap with three parts of water and place it in a container.

          Mix one part of liquid soap with three parts of water and place it in a container.

          2. Soak your jewelry for 30 minutes to loosen the dirt and grime.

           Soak your jewelry for 30 minutes to loosen the dirt and grime.

          3. For chains and engraved jewelry, use an old toothbrush with the softest bristles you have and lightly all throughout the surface and hollows of the jewelry.

          For chains and engraved jewelry, use an old toothbrush with the softest bristles you have and lightly all throughout the surface and hollows of the jewelry.

          4. Rinse with warm water to remove soap residue.

          For chains and engraved jewelry, use an old toothbrush with the softest bristles you have and lightly all throughout the surface and hollows of the jewelry.

          5. Dry and polish with sift and lint-free cloth.

            Dry and polish with sift and lint-free cloth.

            Shine it up with baking soda and vinegar

              Sodium bicarbonate or baking soda is a staple household product that is characterized by a white crystalline substance with a chemical composition of carbon, hydrogen, sodium, and oxygen. Baking soda is widely used as deodorized in refrigerators and kitchen cleaner.

              Vinegar, one of our natural disinfectant, this claim is generally based in disinfecting surfaces with bacteria and not viruses. A study was made with mycobacterium tuberculosis and the effect of vinegar. It was proven that cleaning with household white vinegar could eliminate this type, which is the cause of tuberculosis, a highly difficult strain to eliminate proving that acetic acid or vinegar is a natural disinfectant as well as a deodorant.

              What happens when we combine a proven natural disinfectant with a capable cleaning substance? It sizzles and produces an acid and base reaction that leads to the production of carbonic acid and sodium acetate. This solution softens and strips oils and dirt from the surface of the jewelry. It is not too acidic to cause corrosion but softens and lifts rust from the surface, especially for silver-based jewelry.

              Procedure:

              1. Mix two tablespoons of baking soda with one-half cup of vinegar.

              Mix two tablespoons of baking soda with one-half cup of vinegar.

              2. Soak your jewelry for two to three hours, depending on the amount of dirt on your jewelry.

              Soak your jewelry for two to three hours, depending on the amount of dirt on your jewelry.

              3. Wash and rinse thoroughly with cold water and dry with a soft clean cloth.

              Wash and rinse thoroughly with cold water and dry with a soft clean cloth.

                Get the Luster back with your Metal Polish

                  This process is only applicable for an even and smooth surface for grooved, and chains have hollow parts that are difficult to clean with a cloth. The metal polish contains ammonium hydroxide. Ammonia is an inorganic substance that is commonly used as a cleaner and in a liquid form. It is pungent and can corrode aluminum and copper when in high concentration. The metal polish also has denatured alcohol. This is a solvent that is responsible for removing dirt while the acids in the solution are responsible for breaking down heavy grime and dirt. These active ingredients are responsible for cleaning your heavily grimed jewelry.

                  Procedure:

                  1. Put some metal polish on a piece of dry cloth.

                  Put some metal polish on a piece of dry cloth.

                  2. Cover your ring surface and leave it for a few minutes.

                  Cover your ring surface and leave it for a few minutes.

                  3. Polish using a dry cloth until a glossy surface is achieved.

                  Polish using a dry cloth until a glossy surface is achieved.

                    Disinfecting

                    Disinfecting or sanitizing is getting rid of harmful elements like bacteria and viruses without enhancing its aesthetic. We use substances called disinfectants or other household products that have a disinfecting property. Here are some of the explanations about why we need to sterilize our jewelry.

                    a) Get rid of harmful elements

                      Who wants a bacteria-filled bracelet or rings that can cause illness in the future. Rings, in particular, is a type of jewelry that is always exposed to bacteria and viruses. We can say that we wash our hands regularly, but just by mere washing of hands, the soap does not reach the tight spaces on the inner shank of the rings. Engravings and intricately designed pieces of jewelry have places where harmful elements may take refuge.

                      b) Longevity

                        The presence of bacteria, especially for pieces of jewelry made from organic material, can cause decomposition. Regular cleaning and polishing are needed to keep a protective coating and prevent the entry of these harmful creatures.

                        c) Peace of mind

                          People who suffer from anxiety can attain their peace of mind, especially during this time where a virulent virus is threatening our health. Knowing that the jewelry on your neck and ear is free from bacteria and viruses. We must always remember that the bacteria and viruses can only enter our body through the soft tissue of our eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. Unless you were sneezed on, coughed or spoken with an infected person where it droplets may be thrown directly to the exposed soft tissues on our head. These viruses do not walk but attach themselves to our skin until such time that we introduce it to our body.

                          One of the substances that were indicated in by the WHO guideline in disinfecting is with the use of a 0.5% hypochlorite solution, which is one part bleach and nine parts water. 5-10minutes. As a rule, any bleach containing substance can harm the Luster if your jewelry. Therefore, this option is not possible, even for stainless steel. The experiment shows that this concentration can stain stainless alloy with a yellow color. Do not worry; there are still other household products like hydrogen peroxide and isopropyl alcohol. Your hairdryer can also do the trick.

                          Here are some guides and steps in sterilizing our pieces of jewelry by using household products:

                          You can rely on your Regular Bar Soap.

                            If hand washing is enough to kill the Coronavirus, then the same process applies to our beloved jewelry. Why? The mode of action is the same as how soap cleanses or skin as we wash our hands or take a bath. We produce body oils as we through our regular day-to-day routine. Soap traps the oils on the surface of our skin; this is the reason why we feel fresh and has a squeaky-clean feeling. Most viruses are made up of RNA as its core, proteins, and fats that protect and hold the virus together. Our regular bar soap can strip its lipid layer, therefore, deactivating the virus. Note that it is bar soap, not the liquid moisturizing soap. Liquid soap contains a fat-like substance that is not enough to break the covalent bond on the fatty surface of the virus. This is the safest procedure in sanitizing your jewelry. Suitable for all types of metals, acrylic, and gemstones.

                            Process:

                            1. Get a bar of soap and wet it with water.

                            Get a bar of soap and wet it with water.

                            2. Rub until it creates white suds and rubs it against your jewelry for 1 minute.

                            Rub until it creates white suds and rubs it against your jewelry for 1 minute.

                            3. Be sure that every inch of the jewelry is lathered with soap. You can opt to use a soft-bristled toothbrush for hard metals like stainless and titanium, especially for chains and complexly made jewelry.

                            Be sure that every inch of the jewelry is lathered with soap. You can opt to use a soft-bristled toothbrush for hard metals like stainless and titanium, especially for chains and complexly made jewelry.

                            4. Rinse thoroughly with water.

                            Rinse thoroughly with water

                            5. Dry with disposable soft tissue or soft cloth.

                            Dry with disposable soft tissue or soft cloth.

                              Use a Hydrogen Peroxide Solution

                                Hydrogen peroxide is a colorless solution offered in the market in various strengths depending on its use. Acknowledged in the year 1818, it is considered as the simplest member of the peroxide family. It is widely used as an antiseptic, bleaching, and oxidizing agent.

                                According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology, the Corona Virus and Influenza A and B virus can be deactivated by a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution when it comes in contact from one to 30 minutes. This can also apply to disinfect our pieces of jewelry. How? Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizing agent, it turns to water and releases free oxygen. Household peroxide solution was used for cleaning wounds and scratches. If you had experience using this solution on your injuries, you might have seen some bubbling as you clean around your wound. The solution was oxidizing the entire living creatures on that portion of your skin, such as bacteria and viruses. Although it is not advisable to use this anymore for studies shows that the solution not only eradicates harmful bacteria but also destroys the good ones that help in healing the wound.

                                The mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide removes grime, dust, and body oils.

                                This method not only cleans but also sanitize your jewelry from bacteria and viruses, suitable for gold and silver

                                Procedure:

                                1. Get 1 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution and put it on a plastic container.

                                Get 1 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution and put it on a plastic container.

                                2. Place your gold and silver jewelry in the solution and let it sit for at least 30 minutes.

                                Place your gold and silver jewelry in the solution and let it sit for at least 30 minutes.

                                3. With the use of a cotton bud, very gently brush out any leftover grime.

                                With the use of a cotton bud, very gently brush out any leftover grime.

                                4. Rinse with warm water and dry using a dry and clean soft cloth.

                                Rinse with warm water and dry using a dry and clean soft cloth.

                                  Not for titanium and steel base jewelry:

                                  Hydrogen peroxide can harm the surface of titanium jewelry, especially those, which underwent an anodizing process. We can trace this by looking at the mode of action of hydrogen peroxide. It releases oxygen. Titanium and steel need oxygen in order to undergo passivation. This is its self-healing process wherein chrome mixes with oxygen to create a film to protect its surface. Remember that in order to deactivate Coronavirus, it needs to remain in contact with a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide for 1-30 minutes, and that can damage your titanium and steel jewelry.

                                  Not for Suede Leather jewelry:

                                  Hydrogen peroxide is used as a decolorizing or bleaching agent for leather. Therefore, leather is affected by this solution. Suede leather is tanned using chromic acid, which serves as a catalyst in decomposing H2O2. The free oxygen released then comes in contact with cellulose, which is an organic material. This will result in a heating effect of the natural substance that can lead to decomposition. This can be Cleary seen with 99% hydrogen peroxide and suede leather, the suede leather catches in a few seconds after dropping a the concentrated solution onto the suede.

                                  Isopropyl Alcohol, No Problem!

                                    Isopropyl alcohol is one of the most common organic compounds of the alcohol group, synthetic alcohol produced in 1920. A colorless and flammable compound used as a disinfectant and as a solvent for other products. An oxidizing agent, its mode of action can be compared to hydrogen peroxide, where it oxidizes or dissolve the lipid layer of the virus, therefore, deactivating the virus.

                                    According to an article published by the UNICEF, alcohol can also protect you from contracting the Coronavirus, 60% is the lowest concentration that can do the task. Rub and be sure to cover all surfaces.

                                    USEPA has also released a list of disinfectants' active ingredients, brands, and the duration it takes to inactivate the Coronavirus. For example, seventy percent of isopropyl alcohol must remain in contact for 5 minutes to inactivate the Coronavirus.

                                    Procedure:

                                    1. Place 1 cup of 70% percent alcohol in a glass or plastic container.

                                    Place 1 cup of 70% percent alcohol in a glass or plastic container.

                                    2. Submerge your jewelry in the solution of 5 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the amount of grime it has.

                                    Submerge your jewelry in the solution of 5 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the amount of grime it has.

                                    3. Use a cotton bud to remove any remaining grime that you can see.

                                    Use a cotton bud to remove any remaining grime that you can see.

                                    4. Dry and polish with a soft and dry cloth.

                                    Dry and polish with a soft and dry cloth.

                                      No to Acrylic and Plastic

                                      Alcohol can cause drying as well as weakening the plastic material leading to discoloration and cracking that may be a place for breeding harmful bacteria.

                                      No to Peals and Opals

                                      The alcohol would corrode the organic surface of these gemstones and would result in a dull and cloudy surface. Nacre is the distinctive incandescent substance on the surface of the pearl. It contains calcium carbonate and some natural proteins, which acids, chlorine, and alcohol dissolve. Ammonia is best suited in cleaning these soft gemstones as well as pure silver and gold metals.

                                      No to Leather Containing Jewry

                                      Isopropyl alcohol strips the coat of the leather and reacts with the chromic acid used on leather. This produces acetone, which has a drying property. Leather material may result in cracking and serve as a breeding ground for bacteria.

                                      Let us use our Hairdryer

                                        The WHO has released guidelines in disinfecting linens used by people who are under home quarantines. These individuals are what we call persons under investigation, or some may have tested positive with the virus but are only exhibiting mild symptoms. Washing linens at 60-90 degrees with detergent and dried thoroughly was stated in the said guidelines.

                                        Now, why a hairdryer? According to studies, the hottest temperature a hairdryer can produce is about 197 degrees, while its warm setting is around 70 degrees in temperature. Basing on the release of the guidelines by the World Health Organization in disinfecting linens. We can assume that the heat produced by a hairdryer is enough to deactivate the virus, especially with metals that absorb heat up to its core.

                                        Procedure:

                                        1. Soak with mild liquid and water solution and let it sit for about 30 minutes.

                                        Soak with mild liquid and water solution and let it sit for about 30 minutes.

                                        2. Use a timeworn toothbrush with soft bristles to brush on the nook and crannies of your jewelry, especially for engraves and chain links or Use cotton buds for easily scratched metals like gold and silver.

                                        Use a timeworn toothbrush with soft bristles to brush on the nook and crannies of your jewelry, especially for engraves and chain links or Use cotton buds for easily scratched metals like gold and silver.

                                        3. Rinse and wash with warm water and dry with a soft cloth.

                                        Rinse and wash with warm water and dry with a soft cloth.

                                        4. Open your dryer to its lowest temperature for 5 minutes. This would bring around 73 degrees in temperature. Increase to the highest number to gain about 197 degrees for another 5 minutes. Be careful in touching the hot metal. However, the heat applied is enough to inactivate any bacteria and viruses on your jewelry.

                                        Open your dryer to its lowest temperature for 5 minutes. This would bring around 73 degrees in temperature. Increase to the highest number to gain about 197 degrees for another 5 minutes. Be careful in touching the hot metal. However, the heat applied is enough to inactivate any bacteria and viruses on your jewelry.

                                          One thing to have in mind in choosing which substance to use on our jewelry is that we must always try to look for an organic product, but we must be sure of its efficacy when it comes to disinfection. It is essential to choose a highly effective disinfectant in sanitizing our jewelry because these accessories come in close contact with our skin. We need to do our own research in the effectivity because some things that we read online has no basis at all. It is vital to learn how a substance is claiming that it has it can kill this type of virus without knowing its mode of action. Also, taking into consideration that not all household products are safe to use with the different metal base material. We must not do our own experiments without researching, for some may produce a poisonous substance instead of cleaning or jewelry. For example, ammonia is an excellent cleaner used to clean overs. Bleach is also known as cleaner and disinfectant, but what would happen if we mix eth two together. It creates a highly poisonous chlorine gas that irritates the eyes, lungs, and skin. It is most dangerous when it is done in a closed space that can even kill a person. Chlorine gas was used during both World War 1 and World War 2. You can safely use these products separately after rinsing with water before using the other product.

                                          Now that we have learned some simple procedures in cleaning and sanitizing our jewelry, we can feel secure in wearing and touching them. The plus side is that these products are readily available at home or in supermarkets. We can clean and sterilize our pieces of jewelry anytime we want. Clean surroundings, basic personal hygiene, and clean clothes plus adequately sanitized jewelry, all of these together can prevent diseases caused by a microorganism that lives all around us. What is better than a cure? Prevention. I hope this blog has delivered some useful information in ways on how to sterilize and clean your beautiful jewelry and understand how things work.

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