Jewelry Blog

How To Clean Earrings

Earrings Jewelry Cleaner and Cloth

It’s extremely important to clean earrings regularly, both for your personal hygiene and also for the longevity of the earrings.

Earrings are exposed to more dirt and grime than just about any other piece of jewelry, excluding rings. Unlike fingers (and rings) which will get cleaned often, the nature and location of earrings will mean that the earring dirt will stay inside for much longer.

Learn how to clean earrings without destroying them!

How to Clean Dirty Earrings

Cleaning Diamond Earrings with Toothbrush and Water

For the vast majority of earring styles, a simple soap cleaning will be more than enough to keep your jewelry nice and clean, but if you have earrings with lots of small stones, intricate filigree, or fine milgrain, or you haven’t cleaned your earrings in a while, it may require a little more effort.

  1. Fill up a small container (shot glass or plastic cup) with a cleaning solution mixed with luke-warm water
  2. Place the earrings inside the container for 5 minutes
  3. Gently scrub the earrings with a soft toothbrush
  4. Wash the earrings in clean warm water
  5. Dry the earrings

Some gemstones, such as diamonds (see below), will easily handle being submerged in alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, with gin also being an excellent cleaning fluid. This will loosen hard-to-shift dirt, which can easily then be wiped away with a cotton pad.

Use a soft toothbrush to loosen and clear away ground-in dirt and grease. Please ensure that you do not scrub the earrings too hard.

You may need to repeat the process two or three times if your earrings are particularly dirty. If you make cleaning a regular activity, then you should only need to perform the aforementioned process one time.

If the earrings are very dirty, you can try the same process, but instead, leave the earrings submerged in the cleaning solution longer. This is the best way to clean earrings.

How to Clean Diamond Earrings

cleaning drop earrings in hot water bowl
Submerging earrings in warm/hot water

Diamond Earrings can withstand a little more force than regular earrings, and you can soak the diamond earrings in the container for 20 minutes, followed by a rigorous cleaning with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Wait until the diamond earrings have reached room temperature, and then wash them with warm tap water. Use a blow dryer to dry the clean earrings.

  1. Fill up a container with hot water (not boiling)
  2. Place diamond earrings inside a container for 20 minutes
  3. Gently scrub the earrings with a toothbrush
  4. Wait until all the heat has left the earrings
  5. Wash the diamond earrings in warm water
  6. Dry the diamond earrings

Just remember that this technique should never be used (even using warm water) with foil-backed jewelry or stones that are overly weak on the Mohs scale or sensitive. Also, if there are any other stones in the earrings other than diamonds, do not use this technique.

Why Cleaning your Earrings is so Important

Cleaning Diamond Floral Earrings with Toothbrush and Water

Cleaning your earrings (on a regular basis) is very important, and not just for the reasons that you keep hearing. Below are a few of the important reasons why you should accustom yourself to clean your earrings very often.

  • Grease and Dirt. The natural oils, plus accumulated creams and other grease and dirt from fingers, shampoos, and soaps that we don’t rinse away properly, hair products, and more all surround earrings on an almost permanent basis.
  • Keeping the Shine. Plus the design of most earrings makes them a haven for tiny particles which build up and (literally) take the shine right off. The difference between earrings that are clean vs. unclean is usually extremely pronounced.
  • Preventing Bacteria and Infections. The important reason is preventing bacteria and infection. It is important to remember that an earring actually goes into one part of your body and comes out at another. You can wear clip-on earrings, of course, but these are less common in modern times than they once were, with pierced ears very much the norm.

Because the earrings are touching your ears means that they are much more prone to infection (than what is likely with rings or necklaces).  Failing to clean your earrings regularly can prove to be a very painful and dangerous experience if the ear does become infected.

Using Alcohol Wipes in the Jewelry Store

Customer Looking at Ring in Hand Showroom

It is very important to note that you should always clean earring posts while trying them on at the jewelry store. Earrings are usually tried on by so many people at the store and they can often contain a lot of bacteria and dirt.

We suggest requesting alcohol pads from the jewelers before trying on a new pair of earrings.

This is especially important when cleaning diamond earrings, as the dirt will go on the metal and on the surface of the diamond itself.

Preparation for Home Cleaning

Cleaning Jewelry with Soap

Please ensure that you do not do the cleaning techniques on any jewelry containing emeralds or pearls.

It may seem incredibly obvious to say this, but wash your hands both before you start and before putting them back in. Your hands will be teeming with bacteria, so why risk transferring that to the exposed hole in your ear?

There’s also no point cleaning your earrings and then putting the same dirt and bacteria all over it as you put the pin through the hole again. Although soap and water will clean your hands, and possibly even sanitize them if you use anti-bacterial soap, any cake or even liquid soap can leave a residue which will then be left on the earring and your ear.

Better to use an alcohol-based gel that leaves very little residue and leaves your hands fully sterilized.

How to Disinfect Earrings

Pearl-Earrings-in-Estate-Diamond-Jewelry-ShowroomPearl Earrings in Estate Diamond Jewelry Showroom

Disinfecting earrings before and after use is very important. Germs, dirt, and bacteria all get into earrings, and it is considered good practice to disinfect earrings before and after each use.

Here’s how to disinfect earrings for regular use:

  • Remove all gunk by soaking the earrings in water and scrubbing them with a tissue or toothbrush.
  • Check the earring to ensure that there is nothing that will react poorly to harsh chemicals. See below.
  • Spray or wipe rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide onto the earrings.
  • If your ears are sensitive, you can wash water over the earrings before putting them on.

This technique is the same for sterilizing your earrings.

How to Perform Regular Earring Cleaning Ritual

cleaning earrings with chemicals in cup
Submerging earrings in cleaning solution

You can buy ready-made cleaning solutions from most jewelry stores and, whilst not especially expensive, there are cheaper methods available to you.

By far, the simplest cleaning agents that are easily available are rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Both are excellent disinfectants, and any excess that doesn’t wash away will quickly evaporate. In the case of hydrogen peroxide, it breaks down to a simple water solution when exposed to the air, so there are few potential side effects or skin reactions likely.

Of course, make sure that you check the chart below before you use any chemicals on your gemstone earrings. Some cleaning chemicals will remove the gunk and also the core stone at the same time.

Stones that are safer to clean with chemicals

The use of gloves is highly recommended, as both liquids can dry the skin of your fingers quite quickly.

Do be careful with the level of concentration with hydrogen peroxide, however. When bought in a pharmacy, the concentrate will be at a safe level of 3-6%, which is ideal for cleaning jewelry and other items. If you obtain it elsewhere, it may be over 30% concentrated which can cause skin damage and may be fatal if swallowed.

How to do a Weekly Earring Cleaning Session?

drop earrings with cleaning cloth and non toxic cleaning chemical

The actual cleaning method is very simple, regardless of your chosen solvent. Just put some of the cleaning solution on a cotton pad (or micro-fiber cloth) and use the pad to clean the various parts of the earrings, including the plastic or metal back, which keeps it in place.

Ideally, you would do this daily, but this isn’t always practical. Try to get into the habit of cleaning your worn earrings every week to avoid issues that may arise as time goes by.

  • Douse some solvent onto a cotton pad
  • Clean the earrings with the pad
  • Run the earrings under warm tap water
  • Leave the earrings to dry

Note: If your ears have been pierced for less than six weeks, you shouldn’t remove the earrings. You can use rubbing alcohol to clean the earrings in place, if necessary.

Bring the Earrings to a Jewelry Store

Cleaning earrings with professional steam machine

This option might be a little more difficult, but it is without a doubt the best option for someone who has really dirty earrings. Jewelry stores have professional equipment designed to clean your earrings and make them shine like the day it was made.

Almost all jewelry stores will clean earrings for free (even if you didn’t purchase the earrings from them) and so there is not really any risk bring the earrings to be cleaned.

Jewelry stores will typically use ultrasonic cleaners or steam machines. They will also know which jewelry is safe to go through and which cleaning process.

Top 3 Earring Cleaning Solutions

Aside from simple hand soap and water – which are our top choice for an earring cleaning option – here are the top 5 recommended products to buy.

  • Connoisseurs Jewelry Cleaner. This jewelry cleaner comes in a red container that enables you to dip the earrings inside to give it a “cleaning bath”. Purchase link.
  • Jaysuing Jewelry Cleaner Spray. A simple cleaning spray that will return the shine and sparkle. Purchase link.
  • Earring Cleaning Concentrate. A bottle of earring cleaning solution to pour over your rings. This product has over 2000 reviews. Purchase Link.

Window Shop Earrings from Our Collection

Antique Rare Natural Saltwater Earrings

Every day, many of us remove contact lenses, wipe away make-up, use skin toners, and a hundred other things as part of our daily cleansing routine. Making our ears and earrings a part of that routine is quick and simple, so there’s no excuse for not keeping everything clean and healthy.

If you love your earrings and want to explore the beautiful and rare earrings, click here to view our earrings collection.


About Benjamin Khordipour

Benjamin Khordipour is one of the jewelry researchers and gemologists at Estate Diamond Jewelry. He received his official gemological degrees from both the GIA and GUBELIN. He also regularly contributes to Business Insider, Forbes, Rapaport, CNBC, and Brides Magazine. Benjamin was born in New York and joined Estate Diamond Jewelry in 2014. He is passionate about vintage jewelry and diamonds. This blog was built on his strong belief that jewelers have a responsibility to properly educate their customers. In 2019, Benjamin co-authored the book The Engagement Ring Guide for Men. His favorite vintage jewelry era is the Art Deco Era and his favorite type of stone is the Kashmir Sapphire. He also collects rare antique pins.