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By now, your new quarantine routine likely includes wiping down household surfaces daily, not to mention washing your sheets more often and disinfecting your devices (think: phones and tablets). But your cleaning habits should also extend to your watches and jewelry. After all, you’re already washing your hands — shouldn’t you be disinfecting the rings, bracelets and watches that sit on your hands as well?
According to the CDC, studies have shown that the skin underneath your rings could contain more germs than the skin on fingers without rings. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), meantime, recommends that medical workers leave jewelry, watches and other “non-essential accessories” at home, to prevent any possible transmission of germs and viruses. That’s not even taking into account everyday sweat and oils from your skin, that come into constant contact with your accessories.
“With everyone at home, cleaning has become a daily activity in every household – and that should include your jewelry,” says Andrew Brown, CEO of WP Diamonds. “Cleaning your jewelry regularly removes the dirt, grease and grime that your jewelry picks up over time, which can carry germs and bacteria. Not to mention,” Brown adds, “a thorough cleaning makes your watches and accessories sparkle again.”
For a simple but thorough cleaning, Brown recommends a light scrub with a toothbrush and dish soap to help clear away any build up. “Start by adding a few drops of mild dish soap to a bowl of warm water to make a cleaning solution,” he says, adding that he uses this method for even the diamond rings he carries on his site. “Let your ring soak in the cleaning solution for 20 minutes, then follow with a clean and soft toothbrush to gently remove dirt, especially around the back of the piece. Rinse off your jewelry with water and dry it with a soft, lint-free cloth.”
For a deeper clean, Brown recommends using something like the steaming wand on your basic espresso machine. You’ll want to wear gloves as you steam-clean your item, to prevent the steam from scalding your fingers, though Brown says you can also use a simple tea strainer to hold the item for you.
Need a more vigorous clean or want to make sure your watches and jewelry are disinfected? We’ve round up six other ways to keep your rings, watches and other accessories sparkling, clean and germ-free.
1. HoMedics UV-Clean Portable Sanitizer
This portable sanitizing case is a great non-contact way to disinfect larger accessories or fragile pieces you don’t want to be wiping or scrubbing.
The case uses powerful UV-C LED technology that promises to kill up to 99.9% of bacteria and viruses ten times faster than any other sanitizer. Four LED lights work to sanitize and disinfect both sides of your item in just one minute.
The case is large enough to hold everything from watches to sunglasses to phones (and phone cases). We recommend it for things like keys, remotes and chargers too.
2. Magnasonic Professional Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner
This jewelry cleaner turns tap water into powerful “ultrasonic” waves (think moving microscopic bubbles) to gently remove dirt and grime from your rings, bracelets, necklaces, watches and sunglasses. The motion of the water circulates in and around your jewelry, penetrating even tiny crevices to clear out debris. The company says the device generates 42,000 Hz of ultrasonic sound waves for a powerful yet gentle clean that won’t harm your valuables.
To use: place your accessories into the unit, then choose from five preset cleaning cycles, ranging from 90 seconds to 480 seconds. A digital display lets you track progress and know when cleaning is completed.
Note: this is not recommended for jewelry with loose stones (I.e. pearl necklaces or beaded bracelets)
3. Weiman Jewelry Polish Cleaner and Tarnish Remover Wipes
Keep a pack of these wipes on hand to refresh and clean your watches, silver chains, antique jewelry and other metal accessories. The single-use wipes start by removing any surface debris and tarnishing, then act as a polishing cloth to restore shine and luster. Weiman says its cleaning formula is ammonia-free and won’t scratch surfaces, and it leaves behind a protective coating that prevents tarnishes from reforming. The company says it’s even safe to use on jewelry with diamonds or gemstones.
4. Connoisseurs Jewelry Dry Disposable Wipes
Prefer to use a dry cloth on your jewelry? These disposable wipes are soft and gentle, and safely clean and polish your jewelry and watches. The company says the wipes leave an “anti-tarnish shield” to help keep your accessories looking like new. This set gets you a six-pack of wipes, with 25 wipes per unit.
5. Connoisseurs 1050 Diamond Dazzle Stik
Brown suggests picking up a jewelry cleaning product like Connoisseur’s Diamond Dazzle Stick, “to keep your ring sparkly.” It functions similar to a detergent stick — twist to dispense the cleaning solution, that then flows through a soft-tipped brush. The uniquely-angled brush tip works to get into even the tiniest nooks and crannies to polish and clean. The company says its special polymers can also help to fill in any scratches on your stones and settings.
6. Alcohol Prep Pads
A pack of alcohol pads is always good to have on hand. These individually-wrapped pads are made from a durable but gentle material that won’t scratch surfaces. The formula contains 75% alcohol, making this a great disinfectant wipe too.
Use it to clean smudges and remove germs from your smartwatch or fitness tracker, or to wipe down your chains, watch bands and straps. It works on regular watch faces too, and is safe for costume jewelry. Pricey diamonds and gemstones may be better off with other options on our list. This set gets you a pack of 100 pre-moistened alcohol pads.