Coronavirus: this is why it’s so important to clean your rings – and how to do it properly

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Lara Faye
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Cleaning your jewellery could be as important as hand hygiene in slowing the spread of coronavirus. Here are the steps that you need to take to prevent your rings and watches from contaminating others. 

Official government advice states that we must now only be leaving the house for food, health reasons or essential work, and that we need to wash our hands as soon as we get home. Indeed, under official advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), washing your hands thoroughly is the most effective means of preventing the spread of coronavirus. 

However, is washing our hands enough? The CDC has confirmed that there is evidence to suggest that coronavirus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces, this includes areas in public spaces and within our homes, such as door handles, light switches and bathroom taps. As we consider the role that our clothes could have in transmitting the virus, many of us are asking does our jewellery have a part to play in the spread of Covid-19? 

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Viruses can live on metal surfaces for up to 72 hours, and this includes precious metals such as your gold or silver rings, bracelets and watches. Hand hygiene is key to stopping the spread of germs and viruses, but if your hands have been contaminated by the virus, your rings and watches could be carrying it too. If you have been taking your rings off to wash your hands, they may still be contaminated and then passing the virus back to your cleaned hands, and then onto other surfaces and members of your household.

“If rings are contaminated and you pop them back on after washing your hands, you have re-contaminated your hands,” said Lucy Wilson, a professor in the department of emergency health services at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, to HuffPost.

Fortunately the most effective way to prevent your jewellery from spreading the virus is simple: to temporarily stop wearing your rings, watches and bracelets. However, if you are uncomfortable removing your wedding or engagement ring, taking steps to ensure that your jewellery is kept clean and germ free is essential. 

The good news is that, while hand sanitiser may ruin precious metals, all jewellery can effectively and easily disinfected with hot and soapy water.

When washing your jewellery, being mindful of cross contamination is key. Every time you wash your hands, begin the process by removing your rings. Once your hands have been thoroughly cleaned according to official guidelines, you can now begin washing your rings carefully under warm water, rubbing with soap to create a lather, then rinse them clean. 

If you are a key worker who has been in contact with multiple people and have additional concerns about your jewellery harbouring the virus, there are extra measures that you can take. Doctors and nurses have taken to social media to offer their tips for keeping your jewellery clean, even when exposed to germs and viruses. 

One doctor has repurposed an extra contact lens case which she fills with 70% rubbing alcohol and then leaves her wedding ring in to soak. If you don’t have access to these supplies, one nurse confirmed that she uses an antibacterial wipe clean her rings before putting them back on. Equally, if antibacterial wipes are not available, you can spray disinfectant on either a piece of folded kitchen roll or a cloth, and then wash the cloth in the washing machine immediately.

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Images: courtesy of Getty and Twitter.