Is Hand Sanitizer Harmful To Your Rings?

Have you ever wondered if common hand sanitizer applications could damage your rings? You’re probably aware of some basic ring care principles, but not everyone knows that hand sanitizers should be on the list of things to keep away from certain rings.

Hand sanitizer can harm your rings when they contain denatured alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and other chemicals. These ingredients corrode certain alloys like silver, nickel, and bronze and cause discoloration. It’s best to avoid exposing your rings to hand sanitizer too often.

Fortunately, keeping your rings safe can help ensure they last a lifetime and preserve their beauty. But what else do you need to know about hand sanitizer and its impact on your rings? Let’s explore this a little deeper. 

Will Hand Sanitizer Damage Your Rings?

Hand sanitizer contains alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and other chemicals that can corrode many common alloys used in ring making, such as silver, nickel, and bronze. When exposed to harsh substances, these materials are fragile and can have their surfaces discolored over time. 

Rings with finishes such as gold plating or enamel coating may be particularly vulnerable to damage if routinely exposed to hand sanitizer. 

Furthermore, certain gemstones such as turquoise, lapis lazuli, and coral may also become discolored when exposed to alcohol found in hand sanitizers.

Therefore, taking off any jewelry you’re wearing is important before applying sanitizer to your hands – especially if you frequently expose your hands to the sanitizer due to your profession or any other circumstance.

How Hand Sanitizer Damages Rings

Have you ever noticed your rings becoming discolored, corroded, or dull after applying hand sanitizer? Well, you’re not alone. While hand sanitizer has become a necessary part of our everyday lives, many don’t realize its effects on rings made from certain materials. 

Specifically, the alcohol in the sanitizer breaks down the protective coating that most jewelry manufacturers apply to their pieces. This leaves them vulnerable to oxidation and tarnishing. Over time, this can lead to permanent damage. 

It’s also important to note that gemstones, such as diamonds and pearls, can be damaged by contact with hand sanitizer too. Certain components in the formula can break down delicate surfaces and cause discoloration or weakening of stones. Even semi-precious gems like emeralds and rubies may experience issues if exposed for too long. 

Prolonged Use: Is It Dangerous for Your Rings?

Prolonged use of strong hand sanitizers can certainly harm your rings over time. As the chemicals in these products linger on the metal, they slowly erode away at the jewelry’s integrity and begin to corrode any precious stones that feature in the piece.

Though contact with hand sanitizer is unavoidable in today’s world, it’s wise to limit exposure as much as possible to avoid irreversible damage that could cost you a fortune in repairs or replacements.

Protecting Your Rings While Using Hand Sanitizer

Protecting your rings from coming into contact with hand sanitizer is essential for preserving their value, beauty, and longevity. Here are some tips to help you protect your rings and other jewelry pieces: 

  • Remove your rings before applying hand sanitizer to avoid contact between the product and the jewelry.
  • Use an ultrasonic cleaner to clean hard-to-reach spots or intricate designs. 
  • Store your jewelry pieces in a secure container lined with fabric or velvet away from direct sunlight. 
  • Use a professional jewelry repair service if discoloration or damage occurs due to hand sanitizer contact.
  • Use mild soap and warm water to clean jewelry after hand sanitizer use. 
  • Avoid leaving hand sanitizer on jewelry for extended periods. 

The Rings Are Most Susceptible To Damage 

Gold, silver, and copper are the most common metals used to make rings, and all three have one fundamental thing in common: they’re soft metals. 

This means that when exposed to harsh chemicals, like those found in hand sanitizers, they’ll start to corrode and weaken over time. 

Patina or antique finishes also tend to be more fragile than smooth ones. These types of finishes can be slowly stripped away by the acidic properties of the hand sanitizer solution, making your ring look worn and faded.

In addition, the stones and settings of your ring can be damaged or dislodged by exposure to hand sanitizers. So if you’re wearing a ring with a diamond or any other type of gemstone, you’ll want to take extra precautions to protect it from damage.

Choosing Sanitizers That Cause Minimal Damage

Choosing the right hand sanitizer can be the difference between a damaged ring and one that looks as good as new. So, which sanitizers are safest? You’ll want to look for these criteria: 

  • Avoid fragrances: It’s wise to avoid hand sanitizers with fragrances or artificial dyes, both of which can increase the risk of discoloration and tarnishing. 
  • Look for Alcohol-free: You should keep an eye out for “alcohol-free” products. Alcohol is present in most widely available hand sanitizing solutions, but there are products out there that are gentler than others.

Signs That Jewelry Has Been Damaged by Hand Sanitizer

It’s essential to recognize the signs of damage due to the frequent use of hand sanitizer. Common signs that your jewelry has been damaged include:

  • Discoloration: Hand sanitizers contain various chemicals, which may discolor silver, grey, or rose-gold jewelry if left on for too long. The discoloration is usually accompanied by a dulling or staining of the metal, which can be difficult to remove without professional help.
  • Tarnish: Tarnishing is caused by oxidation from contact with alcohol and other chemicals in the hand sanitizer. The tarnish will usually appear as a dark black or brown coating on the surface of the jewelry and typically forms around settings with stones such as diamonds, emeralds, and rubies. 
  • Breakage/Cracking: Prolonged use of hand sanitizer can also cause metal fatigue, resulting in cracking or breakage either along a seam line or at points where stones are set in the ring. It’s important to look closely at areas like prongs and claws which hold stones in place since they’re most prone to cracking due to their delicate nature. 
  • Pitting/Erosion: Pitting occurs when corrosion beneath the surface layer is caused by contact with alkaline substances in some products, like hand sanitizers. This type of degradation will produce small pits on the outside surface, which can only be seen under inspection with a magnifying glass.

Can You Repair Rings Damaged by Hand Sanitizer?

While it’s possible to repair a ring damaged by hand sanitizer, the process can be costly and may not always be feasible. 

Depending on the extent of damage and how delicate the ring is, repairs may involve removing any discoloration or corrosion and then replacing plating or coating to restore its original shine. 

This process can be time-consuming and difficult, and there’s no guarantee of success. In some cases, replacing the damaged ring with a new one may be better, particularly if repairing it exceeds its overall value.

Repair vs. Replace: How To Decide

With that said, depending on the extent and type of damage to your ring, it can be worth attempting a repair before opting for a complete replacement. 

Suppose the discoloration or corrosion is minimal, and the metal is still strong and intact. In that case, you may be able to restore its original shine with a professional polishing service or special cleaning solution.

But otherwise, you could be better off replacing the ring completely. Of course, it’s best to consult a professional jeweler and get an estimate of repair costs before making your decision, as it can be difficult to predict whether or not repairs will even be successful. 

Which Cleaning Products Are Safe for Jewelry?

It can be difficult to find the right cleaning products for your jewelry. What’s more, it’s important to remember that even when using a cleaning product that’s marketed as suitable for jewelry, there may still be some risk involved.

The safest way to clean your jewelry is by using something soft and gentle such as a warm damp cloth or a specialized brush designed specifically for gold and silver jewelry. 

However, if you choose to use a commercial cleaning product, stick with those specifically labeled as safe for metal and gemstones such as gold, silver, platinum, and diamonds. 

Look out for these ingredients: 

  • Ammonia-free solutions
  • Mild detergents such as Woolite
  • Natural soaps like Ivory or Castile soap
  • Distilled water (not tap water)

Avoid harsh abrasives, which can leave scratches on the metal surface. In particular, you’ll want to avoid:

  • Toothpaste
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar

It’s also wise to read instructions carefully before use – some products require soaking times while others need to be rinsed off immediately afterward. 

Make sure you keep an eye on all pieces of jewelry you’re cleaning, as certain areas may need more attention than others depending on their type, age, and condition. Always err on the side of caution and don’t soak any pieces for too long, especially if they contain precious stones or pearls.

Alternatives to Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer has become a popular go-to for keeping your hands clean and germ-free. However, there are other alternatives to consider when disinfecting your hands. 

Let’s explore a few of your options:

  • Soap and water: This timeless duo is one of the most effective ways to reduce germs when washing your hands. Simply lather, rub (or scrub) your hands together for at least 20 seconds, then rinse thoroughly with running water. 
  • Hand wipes: Using hand wipes is another alternative to hand sanitizer and can often be found conveniently pre-packaged in travel sizes or individual packs. Antibacterial wipes contain a mild disinfectant to help reduce the number of germs on the skin but should not take the place of soap and water. 
  • Gloves: Wearing disposable gloves when handling items or surfaces containing bacteria and viruses is an effective way to avoid exposure to germs. Be sure to take off and replace gloves between tasks and areas whenever possible. 

Common Causes of Damage to Rings from Everyday Wear

Wearing a ring is an outward expression of style, but the wear and tear of everyday use can cause the ring to lose its shine and sparkle. To keep your precious jewelry looking new, it’s crucial to understand the common causes of damage to rings (and do your best to prevent them).

  • Improper Care: Rings need special attention since they’re exposed to dirt, oil, and grime daily. To avoid damage, ensure you regularly clean your rings with a gentle jewelry cleaner that won’t harm the metal or stones in the ring.
  • Abrasion Damage: Abrasion damage occurs when the metal makes contact with hard surfaces such as countertops or desks. This type of damage will slowly wear away at the finish of your ring over time if not taken care of properly. Be aware of any hard surfaces near your hands when wearing your rings. 
  • Chemical Damage: Using certain household cleaners and liquids can damage rings due to their chemical compositions. Anything that contains bleach should be avoided while wearing rings, as it can cause discoloration or pitting in some cases.
  • Extreme Temperature Changes: Sudden temperature changes can adversely affect many types of metals used in jewelry production, especially gold-based metals such as 10k gold and 14k gold, which are more susceptible to bending or warping under extreme temperatures. Always remove any rings before playing sports, swimming, or showering, for example.
  • Accidental Bending: Constant wear on a ring can result in unintentional bends or dents, especially with thin bands where very little force is needed to cause unwanted changes in shape. To minimize this, minimize activities where sudden force may be applied on the ring, such as manual labor jobs, weightlifting, and gardening. 

Final Thoughts

While the chemical compounds in hand sanitizer can be harsh on metals, the risk of damage to your rings and other jewelry isn’t necessarily great. However, it’s still advisable to limit contact with these cleaning products as much as possible. 

Whenever using hand sanitizer, try to remove any rings you’re wearing or switch out your current product for an alcohol-free alternative.

For more thorough cleaning, look for products specifically designed for jewelry care – especially ones free from harsh chemicals and abrasives. With a little care and caution, you can help keep your jewelry in great shape.

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