Should I Ditch My Jewelry During Coronavirus? Experts Weigh In
If you want to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, here's what to do with those baubles.
As new information about the transmission of coronavirus and the surfaces on which it can live comes to light each day, many people have begun to rethink their daily routines. How often should you be washing your hands? Do you need to wash your clothes upon returning home? Do you need to sanitize your mail? But there's one potential source of transmission many people haven't considered: their jewelry.
According to Ramon Tallaj, MD, a board-certified physician and chairman of the board of SOMOS Community Care, if you've been exposed to COVID-19, there could be coronavirus on your jewelry, so if you want to ensure your safety during the pandemic, you'd be wise to ditch those baubles—especially rings—when you're out and about.
"Removing your rings may lead to better hand hygiene," says Tallaj. "If the rings are contaminated and you put them back on after washing your hands, you've just re-contaminated your hands."
So, how should you clean your jewelry if you do choose to keep wearing it?
Rings and bracelets "should be washed separately every time you wash your hands," recommends registered labor and delivery nurse Juliana Parker, who cautions against using hand sanitizer if you're worried about coronavirus on your jewelry.
"To properly disinfect your jewelry, you may use regular household isopropyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide on most pieces," says Parker. If you're concerned those products might be too harsh on delicate items, Parker says that using an antibacterial dish soap and a soft toothbrush to clean them should be sufficient. And if you've got pieces that are more durable, Parker notes that you can even run them through a sanitizing cycle on the top rack of your dishwasher to ensure they're thoroughly cleaned.
However, if you're a healthcare professional or have had contact with someone sick, experts say it's better to put any and all jewelry away for the time being.
"If you have knowingly been exposed to the virus and are quarantined, it is best to leave your jewelry off, simply to have less objects on your body with surface area that can carry the virus," says Rebecca Patton, PA-C.