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Can Hand Sanitizer Damage Sterling Silver?

Posted by Dawn Pochek, Co-Founder Inspiranza Designs on 10th Mar 2021

Can Hand Sanitizer Damage Sterling Silver?

I'm so glad you asked. We have seen an increase in damage to silver jewelry due to hand sanitizer use. While it's essential to practice good hygiene, we also have to be aware of what that might mean for our silver bling.

As a comparison to help explain what is happening, I offer the following scenario. You wouldn't put your hand in a bucket of floor cleaner while wearing your jewelry. Neither would you apply hand sanitizer while wearing your sterling silver jewelry because it could destroy the look of your favorite pieces. Sadly, many articles, mainly rings, and bracelets have suffered damage from hand sanitizer because we didn't know to be cautious.

Hand sanitizers are available in alcohol-based and alcohol-free. Of the two types of hand sanitizer, which is the culprit? Actually, neither is entirely safe for your jewelry.

With sterling silver, you have to be especially cautious of alcohol-free hand sanitizers. Instead of alcohol as a base ingredient, these sanitizers contain chlorine-based chemicals and listed ingredients that I cannot pronounce. Chlorine chemicals can tarnish and permanently damage your favorite sterling silver pieces.

That doesn't give alcohol-based hand sanitizer a free pass. Alcohol is a harsh chemical and can cause damage over time.

What's A Girl To Do?

Hand sanitizers are at the entry and/or exit of most places we frequent these days, and most of us are careful to practice good hygiene. We silver girls love our jewelry, but we also want to be good guardians of our health.

We can do both! You don't have to skip hand sanitizer. There's a way to protect your jewelry and prevent damage while also taking care of yourself. Here's what you can do:

1) Remove your jewelry when applying hand sanitizer or washing your hands. A good rule of thumb is this, if it's a wet environment, take your jewelry off. Wait for your hands and fingers to completely dry before putting your jewelry back on.

2) One of the things we have recommended for years is to give your jewelry a bath but be careful about your bath contents. I don't mean to literally take a bath while wearing your jewelry. I mean to create a bath that is just for your jewelry. Before going any further, I want to provide a warning. Avoid using liquid jewelry cleaner on your sterling pieces as it can cause permanent damage. Instead, give your pieces a gentle bath of clear hand soap. It's a simple process that consists of creating a little bit of foam in your hands using mild soap and warm water. Gently place the piece you are bathing in your palm and cup your other hand over the palm and gently rub the foam over your jewelry. Follow that with a warm water rinse to remove all soap residue. Next, using a soft cloth, gently dry your pieces.

3) Finally, after it's dry, use a jewelry polishing cloth to restore the luster (at least weekly). A jewelry polishing cloth is chemically treated to remove tarnish and restore the brilliance of your .925 sterling silver jewelry.  Click here for a link to our Polishing Cloth. 

4) After your weekly bath and between wearings, we recommend storing your jewelry in an air-tight bag to prevent tarnish.

We want to encourage you to take care of yourself today and always. Follow the hygiene practices prescribed and use hand sanitizer. We hope these care tips, including removing your jewelry before applying hand sanitizer, will help preserve your favorite sterling pieces, ensuring a lifetime of use.

In all your ways, for all your days...

Let it shine,

Dawn