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Clean vs Sterile

July 20th, 2023

What's sterilization?

We all know about the importance of proper hygiene and that you need to clean your jewelry. What you might not know is that clean and sterile are not the same thing. Clean is quick and easy. That's you washing your plugs with soap and water. Are they clean? Yes. Are there potentially areas of bacteria or microbial life still present? Yes.

Sterilization is the process of killing all microorganisms. Sterilizing your jewelry is by no means necessary but it can sure be helpful. Those prone to infection should consider having jewelry sterilized if it is being used to stretch the skin or if the skin has recently been stretched and not fully healed. There is no guarantee to avoid infection as the jewelry will be contaminated as soon as you open and touch it, but at the very least it is from your own environment and microbial life that your body is used to.

If you want your jewelry sterilized, we can do that for you! We use an autoclave machine that uses pressurized steam to sterilize. An autoclave is an incredibly effective and reliable method of sterilization. According to the CDC, "of all the methods available for sterilization, moist heat in the form of saturated steam under pressure is the most widely used and the most dependable." Steam sterilization is nontoxic, microbicidal, sporicidal, and relatively quick using an autoclave. You'll be able to see a color indicator on the sterilization pouch to confirm it was processed using steam and not chemically sterilized.

After the initial sterilization, standard cleaning practices are absolutely fine. If for some reason you want your jewelry sterilized again, ask your local piercer. Piercing studios also have autoclave machines but most likely will not sterilize anything that is not their own equipment. Never hurts to ask though if it's important to you.

The heat, steam, and pressure can damage some jewelry so we will not sterilize any wood jewelry. Please see last month's blog about cleaning wood.  

Juliet's version of cleanliness was next to godliness, which was to say it was erratic, past all understanding and was seldom seen.  
- Terry Pratchett, Unseen Academicals


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