Keeping it clean while stretching.
Sanitization vs Sterilization explained & the cleanest ways to stretch your ear lobe.

If you ask around some people are very hesitant on which material they use to stretch their ear lobes. While some have successfully stretched without any problems at all, others stay away from certain materials and methods.

Before we go into which is the most sanitary way to stretch your ears you should have a firm understanding of the difference between these two words: Sterilization & Sanitation. Yes they both mean clean but there is a slight difference between the two types of "clean".

Sterilization

Sterilization or Sterile is as clean as it gets. When an item is Sterilized it is free of all live bacteria or other microorganisims. Complete sterilization can only be achieved with body jewelry from metal such as stainless steel.

Sterilization is achieved by placing the jewelry in a machine called a "Autoclave". What an Autoclave does is put the jewelry through high pressure steam which rids the jewelry of any microorganisims or bacteria.

Sanitization

Sanitization or Sanitized is when you disinfect an object. This method is still clean however not as clean as a sterile object. A disinfected object does not kill all microorganisms, especially non resistant bacterial spores. So if you disinfect an object some microorganisms may still be present on the jewelry.

Ear Tapers

The most common way to stretch ear lobes are by the use of ear tapers. Ear tapers come in a variety of materials. The two most common type of materials are 316L Surgical Grade Stainless Steel, and Acrylic.

316L Stainless Steel Ear Tapers

The stainless steel ear tapers are recommended if you are stretching with sensitive skin or you want the most sterile ear stretching process. Since this type of taper is made from stainless steel, you are able to put these tapers inside an autoclave to get a sterile ear taper.

Other ways to sanitize a stainless steel ear taper include: alcohol, and antibacterial soap.

Acrylic Ear Tapers

Acrylic ear tapers have a reputation of being porus and harbor bacteria which increases your chance of infection. This is true however there are ways to minimize infection and removing most of the bacteria from the taper (if bacteria resides on the taper).

The best way to disinfect a Acrylic Ear Taper ( or any acrylic body jewelry ) is to use an antibacterial soap, and let the jewelry air dry. This process should remove a majority of microorganisms that are on the ear taper or jewelry.

Because acrylic can melt under high temperatures, acrylic body jewelry cannot be put in an autoclave to become sterile. Also, If you try to soak acrylic in alcohol you will notice a wierd affect such as the jewelry loosing color and possible holes will start to appear ( this is from the acrylic breaking down), we do not recommend soaking jewelry in alcohol for an extended period of time.

How to clean a newely stretched earlobe

There are several ways to help clean out a freshly stretched earlobe, here are some of the more popular ways:

Sea Salt- Just as your piercer advised you when you first got your ears pierced was to soak your new piercing in sea salt. The same rules apply after every stretch. A sea salt soak should be given 2-3 days to help clean & heal the piercing.

Antibacterial Soap / Anti-microbial Soaps- Highly recommended in the piercing industry. All soaps are created differently, so a more gently soap should be used for this type of cleaning.

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