How to Clean Surgical Steel Jewelry

alloy care cleaning hygiene hypoallergenic last on first off materials polish shine stainless steel surgical steel wash

How to clean Surgical Steel Jewelry for Hygiene and Shine

How to Care for Surgical (Stainless) Steel Jewelry

Surgical Steel is a particular alloy of Stainless Steel (316 and 316L).  Stainless Steel has many alloys, which are different mixtures of various metals in various amounts.  Jewelry metals are often alloyed to improve their qualities (for example: gold and silver are often mixed with other metals to improve their color or durability).  Surgical Steel is a helpful jewelry material because it is hypoallergenic for some, is very durable, and it does not tarnish.  If you have ever had to polish sterling silver, you can appreciate this fact.

After a lot of wear Surgical Steel can become dulled a bit with residue build-up, especially if it has come into contact with sweat, oils, or beauty products (like hairspray, lotion, perfumes, etc.).  As a proactive strategy, apply the “last on, first off” strategy for keeping your jewelry as clean as possible.  Only put it on after you have done your hair and makeup and take it off first thing when you arrive back home.

Cleaning your Surgical Steel jewelry is recommended for hygienic reasons as well as to remove any build up and return its shiny surface.  It is very simple and requires materials you probably already have at home.  Please note: if your Surgical Steel jewelry also has gemstones, pearls, or crystals, it is not advised to submerge the pieces into water or to soak them.  

Instructions for Cleaning Surgical (Stainless) Steel Jewelry

Hypoallergenic Surgical Steel Stud Earrings for Sensitive Ears with Malachite Gemstone Hypoallergenic Surgical Stainless Steel Stud Earrings for Sensitive Ears with Cobalt Blue Swarovski Crystals Hypoallergenic Surgical 316L Steel Stud Earrings for Sensitive Ears with Green Freshwater Pearls  Hypoallergenic Surgical Steel Relief Hoops for Sensitive Ears by Pretty Sensitive Ears 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Two soft cloths
  • A small bowl
  • Warm water
  • Dishwashing soap (like Dawn)


  1. For Surgical Steel jewelry with gemstones / pearls, use a clean, dry soft cloth to gently wipe away any dirt / build-up / smudges on the surfaces of any gemstones or pearls on your Surgical Steel jewelry.
  2. Fill the small bowl with warm water and add dishwashing soap. Mix the soap into the warm water.
  3. For Surgical Steel jewelry with gemstones / pearls / crystals, dip the cloth into the soapy water and use it to gently scrub and wash the Surgical Steel parts of the jewelry taking care not to get the soapy water on the gemstones / pearls.  For Surgical Steel jewelry that doesn't have any gemstones / pearls / crystals, place the jewelry into the soapy water and leave it to soak for a few minutes before using the soft cloth to gently scrub the surfaces.
  4. Rinse your soft cloth and wipe the soapy Surgical Steel surfaces clear of any soapy water.
  5. Use the second soft cloth to dry and gently polish the Surgical Steel surfaces of the jewelry by rubbing the cloth across the surfaces a few times.
  6. Enjoy! Repeat this process as needed every so often to keep your Surgical Steel jewelry looking beautiful and to keep your ear piercings clean and feeling good.

If you would like to learn more about what metals are in Surgical (Stainless) Steel, visit our Materials page.  If you suspect you may be having a reaction to your Surgical Steel jewelry, you can also explore other materials there to decide which material to try instead.  Niobium or Titanium are good alternatives.

Take care ~ XOXO ~ Amanda Jensen

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