With all that is going on the world right now, it would be wise to take a closer look at our jewelry and the predisposition certain materials may have to collecting germs. True, for most individuals in the U.S. and in many countries across the world, interaction with other people should be significantly less frequent than normal. In fact, for some this period of time of “staying indoors” and conforming to “spacial distance requirements” suggested by the President and the CDC, may seem like something only seen in a sci-fi fantasy or suspense film. Nevertheless, at this period in time, it seems to be our reality. So, we at Princess Jewelers want to be sure that regardless of the style of jewelry you wear that you always are aware and maintain proper cleaning principles, which will help to keep you, your family and friends SAFE!
Although we are currently dealing with a global pandemic, many people do not know that even when in “non-crisis” situations, on an every day basis, millions of people get sick, are hospitalized, and some even die as a result of food borne illnesses, viruses and flu- related sicknesses. Even though some go through great lengths to avoid getting sick, few look at the practicality of good jewelry hygiene. Bacteria often lodges itself in jewelry that is wear by individuals everyday. In fact, studies prove that even after washing hands, the bacteria levels on dirty jewelry is 10 times higher than skin. Studies by The Centers for Disease Control has shown that skin under rings is more heavily colonized with bacteria than fingers without rings.
But let's start with the good news. Kudos to those of you who have increased the number of times that you wash your hands everyday. However, to be quite frank, simply washing your hands does not automatically kill the germs and bacteria that is on your jewelry. There can still be bacteria on the surface of jewelry even if after you wash your hands. Most people don't usually think about jewelry hygiene, until they happen to take their jewelry off and look at what is beneath it. Think about it, when is the last time you cleaned your jewelry. Take a poll! Ask your friends. Most will reluctantly reveal that they haven't cleaned their jewelry in several months, some say even years! Yuk! Yuk! Yuk! One report states that, ・..when checked with a Hygiena ATP tester (the same device health inspectors use to test the cleanliness of surfaces in restaurants and hospitals, most jewelry surfaces have an ATP hygiene index in the 500-2,000 range. According to Hygiena ATP Levels of Clean, this would put the jewelry in the category of "Very Dirty" (501-1000) or "Filthy" (> 1,000), carrying a danger classification with "high risk of contamination from disease-causing bacteria."
Studies show that the concentration of bacteria increases with the number of rings worn. Some studies would encourage people to wear conservative or minimalist styles as they show that wearing one single, plain ring does not increase the total bacterial count on hands. In those studies, the rings that had the more intricate designs with more nooks, crannies, and crevices were the dirtiest. Also, over time it seems that rings, tend to collect more bacteria than earrings, necklaces or watches. For example in one particular study, the wedding rings of both the husband and wife were tested. The wife's ring had an approximate bacterial count of 175,000 to husband’s count of 13. The husband works in health care and practices using antibacterial foam on both his hands and his ring throughout the day, which is smoother and has far fewer crevices than the wife's ring.
What Affects Overall Jewelry Hygiene
So ring designs and the ways people clean their hands all play a part into overall effective jewelry hygiene. The material the jewelry is made of also plays a large role in the cleanliness of jewelry. Silver and copper, unbeknownst to many, are toxic to bacteria.
While, overuse of antibacterial products can kill the good bacteria and lead to more sickness, it is still a good practice to be thorough when cleaning your hands and to give extra effort to cleaning your jewelry. Taking off your jewelry when dealing with certain things is also a plus.
When To Avoid Jewelry
Certain professions limit the amount or type of jewelry people can wear. For example, in the food industry there are certain food codes that limit the jewelry people who prepare food can wear. There are also certain expectations in local hospitals depending on the departments. In operating rooms, regulations normally require all jewelry to be removed, while in general patient care areas, some companies allows one ring per hand. Remember, there is very few things in our world that is sterile. Microorganisms are everywhere; and although it's normal and nothing to be afraid of, it requires forethought responsibility when to prevent the spread of disease.
Cleaning Your Jewelry
Everything from food to fecal matter can come into contact with your jewelry, making it even riskier to refrain from regular cleaning. For most intents and purposes, studies suggest that you should clean your jewelry at least every two weeks. During a health crisis, it is wise to clean more regularly. Take your jewelry off and scrub them to thoroughly cleanse the entire surface. When cleaning rings, be sure to lather them with soap, scrub all over including underneath all stone settings and inside engravings. Rinse, repeat, and inspect to be sure they are thoroughly cleaned.
Under normal circumstance, a trip to your local jeweler is the easy way to get your jewelry clean. You can also purchase a product to help you get a “professional level of clean” from the comforts of your own home. However, there are several items that you have around your home that you can use to clean your jewelry. Some methods people resort to include everything from using a dishwasher to using a simple mild detergent with warm water bath and a brush. Some soak their jewelry for 10 minutes using a diluted solution (½ cup) ammonia and (1 cup) water to clean gold and silver jewelry at home. (Do not try this is delicate jewelry like pearls.) Here are a list of a few more interesting do it yourself methods to cleaning your jewelry at home found on Reader's Digest:
Alka-Seltzer. Dropping dull jewelry in Alka-Seltzer for a couple of minutes.
Aluminum foil (Ion exchange). Line a small bowl with aluminum foil. Fill the bowl with hot water, mixing in one tablespoon of bleach-free powdered laundry detergent. Place the jewelry in the solution, soaking for only one minute. Rinse well and air-dry.
Club Soda. Soak your diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds in a full glass of club soda overnight to clean and give a great sheen!
To clean porous stones like turquoise, use a very soft jewelry cleaning brush and if very dirty use lukewarm tap water. Do not scrub too vigorously. Do not soak in water or jewelry cleaner as it can become unstable due to its porousness. Wipe with a separate soft absorbent cloth to dry, being sure to place out of direct sunlight before storing in an air-tight, resealable bag. Moisture in air will cause the jewelry to tarnish. Then place in a jewelry box.
To disinfect solid gold or platinum jewelry that is only set with diamond, ruby, or sapphire you can use regular household isopropyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Other kind of stones require a gentler form of cleaning. Also, know that although hand sanitizers can be used while wearing harder materials like gold and platinum, simply rubbing hand sanitizer on your hands does not sanitize the jewelry itself. Remember germs can stay hidden within the inside surfaces. So always clean the jewelry separately.
Most Vulnerable Areas for Infection
When enough skin cells, bacteria, soap, sweat or water gets trapped in the underside of wedding bands or inside earrings, a biofilm may develop, which protect microorganisms, giving them a warm place for them to stay. Some of the organisms can be pathogenic or infectious. This won't necessarily lead to infection unless you have a cut. If this is the case, the jewelry is right there as a source of the contamination, infection, rashes etc. The most vulnerable areas on the body for infection usually include areas that are pierced which have either more fluid, mucosal surfaces, or glandular excretions, such as piercings in the tongue, the lips, belly button, and private areas.
In summary, remember washing your hands and washing your jewelry can not be done in one “fail-proof” swoop. Take your jewelry off and scrub it clean. When doing go, be sure to remove the skin, dirt and grime underneath rings, bracelets, watches, etc. This will help remove any bacteria hiding out of sight. Remember to wash your hands for about 20 seconds. Then after cleaning, completely dry the jewelry before putting it away or putting it back on.
For general safety tips on COVID-19 visit www.cdc.gov.
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- Tags: CLEANING JEWELRY, CORONAVIRUS, COVID-19, FOOD ILLNESSES, FOOD ILLNESSES BACTERIA, GERMS, JEWELRY, JEWELRY HYGIENE