Welcome to Ask Shop LC, a series created for you, the shopper! Our team is answering questions that real Shop LC customers are asking, ranging from the common to the obscure. Lately, many customers are asking if hand sanitizer can damage jewelry.

Woman using hand sanitizer.

What does hand sanitizer do to jewelry?

Hand-washing and hand sanitizer use is part of our new normal. With hand sanitizer, there are basically two types most of us are using. First, there are alcohol-based hand sanitizers. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content. Then, there are non-alcohol hand sanitizers. Their active ingredients vary, and at the time of writing, the CDC does not recommend any of them as an alternative to alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Diamond halo ring in yellow gold.

Many are concerned that hand sanitizer may damage their jewelry.

Consulting with experts, it does not appear that alcohol-based hand sanitizers damage jewelry finishes such as rhodium or gold. Personally speaking, I wear silver rings and use hand sanitizer daily, and have not seen an impact.

On the other hand, non-alcohol hand sanitizers may contain ingredients harmful to jewelry. Mostly, these cause metals to discolor or tarnish. Consider avoiding these if you plan to also wear jewelry.

Wait for sanitizer to dry completely before handling sensitive gems like pearls and opals. These porous gems might absorb chemicals and change color. Also, some gemstone treatments may react poorly to many common chemicals.

If you’re in doubt, we suggest choosing another piece or not wearing a ring.

During this time, we should also be cleaning our jewelry more. Anything you wear daily, like a wedding ring, should be cleaned about every week. Either use a recommended cleaner for your jewelry type (ultrasonic, steam, chemical cleaner), or use the tried-and-true method of dishwashing liquid and lukewarm water.

Why you should wash your hands and use hand sanitizer

Flu season is right around the corner. To help prevent the spread of the flu and coronavirus, the CDC recommends that we wash our hands frequently. If you can’t wash your hands, use hand sanitizer.

And, no matter what, don’t stop washing your hands or using hand sanitizer. Your health is more important than your jewelry!

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