Should I Be Cleaning My Old Piercings?

Yeah, unless you want them to smell like old feet.


You followed our piercing aftercare guide, and your hole healed perfectly (no surprises there). But when you commit to a piercing, the maintenance never really ends, and that means periodically washing your hole.

“If you don’t wash your armpits, they start to smell because of bacteria,” says veteran piercer Brian Keith Thompson, owner of Body Electric. “The same thing happens with piercings.”

To prevent your hole from smelling like armpit, Thompson says you can regularly lather it with soapy water in the shower. And if you suspect that it needs a more thorough cleaning, he suggests removing the jewelry and gently cleaning the area with soap and water while allowing the jewelry to soak in rubbing alcohol. Be extremely careful when you remove your jewelry, though. “I’ve lost countless diamonds from my nostrils down the trap,” Thompson warns. “You want to put the plug in the sink, so you don’t lose your jewelry.”

If you have trouble removing your jewelry or just feel uncomfortable doing it yourself, Thompson says visiting your piercer is never a bad idea. “What I’d recommend is finding a piercer who you can trust and who can get the job done for you,” he says. “I have my clients come in, and I’ll do maintenance for them once every quarter.” During these visits, he uses an ultrasonic cleaner on their gemstones, disinfects the jewelry and thoroughly cleans the hole to ensure that everything is looking — and smelling! — its absolute best.

Simple, right? Now get out there and put your best hole forward.