How to Clean Piercings So They Won't Smell

Piercings need regular cleanings to stay odor-free.
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Your body starts out as a blank canvas that practically begs to be adorned with artful decorations. Makeup, hair styles, tattoos and body piercings are just a few of the ways you can creatively express your personality. If you opt for a piercing, you'll need to keep it clean if you don't want to express smelly residue and infection. You can beat back bad odor by cleaning your piercings daily with soap, water and saline solution.

Wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap and warm water before touching a piercing. This helps to prevent the transfer of germs and bacteria to the piercing.

Remove the piercing jewelry, if possible. If your piercing is new, you should not remove the jewelry until the skin has healed. For ears, this takes between 12 to 16 weeks. Nose piercings heal completely in 12 to 24 weeks, but you can normally remove your stud after eight weeks. Navel piercings take six to 12 months to heal fully. Oral piercings heal in six to eight weeks, and genital piercings in six to 10 weeks.

Wet the pierced area, then lather a pearl-sized amount of antibacterial soap between damp hands.

Rub the skin surrounding the piercing gently with soap. If you removed your jewelry, carefully wipe the piercing with soap. If you didn't take out the jewelry, slowly pour lukewarm water over the area. The water will carry the soap underneath the jewelry so it can clean your skin. Rinse the piercing and the area with lukewarm water until the soap suds are all gone.

Pat the piercing dry with a paper towel. Don't use a cloth towel; it can harbor infection-causing bacteria.

Pour a small amount of saline solution into a cup. Alternatively, dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt in 8 ounces of warm water.

Dip a cotton swab in the saline solution, then wipe the piercing with the swab. If you left your jewelry in, slowly rotate the jewelry as you wipe so that the solution cleans the whole thing. If you'd rather not use a cotton swab, dampen a paper towel or fresh gauze with the solution, then gently press it down over the piercing. You can do this whether you left the jewelry in or took it out.

Let the solution sit for five to 10 minutes, then rinse off any residue with lukewarm water.

Repeat this cleaning process daily to ward off infection and smelly residue.

  • Don't submerge your piercing in unclean water -- such as a lake, pool or hot tub -- until it's healed. Doing so may cause infection.
  • If you have a tongue piercing, clean it by rinsing your mouth daily with an antiseptic oral cleanser.

Melissa King began writing in 2001. She spent three years writing for her local newspaper, "The Colt," writing editorials, news stories, product reviews and entertainment pieces. She is also the owner and operator of Howbert Freelance Writing. King holds an Associate of Arts in communications from Tarrant County College.