If your earrings are looking dingy, gunky, or there are little clumps of earring stuff hanging out of the holes then it's because there is something in your earring solution that is attacking your earrings.

I'm sure you'd find even more gross things happening in the world today, but we can agree that gunk on your earrings, from whatever place and in whatever color, is not just disgusting, but it's also very embarrassing.

Do you know what that gunk is on your earrings? If not, keep reading to find out exactly what it is and how to get rid of it.




What is the green gunk on earrings?

If you have noticed green gunk on your earrings, you may be wondering why it's there in the first place and what could have caused it.

The green gunk seen on many jewelry and metal items, especially those made of precious metals, is called verdigris.

The green tinge on copper can be defined as its natural patina. It's formed when copper is exposed to air for long periods.

While oxidation is the main cause of black corrosion, verdigris also results from copper pieces being in contact with other pollutants.

This is an example of something that we call a 'pollutant'. These pollutants often include body fluids such as body oils and sweat, and also hair products or cosmetics.

The bad news is that the green gunk can be quite unsightly and may also be a pain to clean up, especially if you're dealing with the exquisite and detailed piece, you can actually clean out the green gunk.

This is good to know, but it's not wise to wear your jewelry with green gunk on it because that green gunk is not safe. It's considered to be a corrosive agent.

If the gunk is not removed, it will eat away at the small bits of metal over time, and the longer it sits there, the worse the damage it does.

Verdigris is particularly useful for growing on copper, brass, and bronze because it is very well-suited for growing in acidic solutions.

You can easily spot the problem if the item appears dull or duller than its original appearance.

In case you store your safe, clean, and good jewelry alongside pieces of jewelry with existing Verdigris, the good pieces will be damaged too.



What is the black gunk on earrings?

If you have pierced ears and wear jewelry, you will likely notice black gunk accumulating around your ear piercings over time. This happens because earrings naturally accumulate body oil.

The gunk is made of dead skin cells combined with dirt and oils. It's made up of the discharge from the healing piercing.

Like a metal that forms Verdigris, all this junk from dead cells will get oxidized, turning into black gunk.

As the piercing hole heals and your earrings sit in there, the dead cells, dirt, and other debris build-up, forming that annoying black gunk.


Why is some gunk on your earrings?

Earrings are the most vulnerable part of any jewelry. In fact, earring tips are one of the most delicate parts of an earring set and can often fall off. This is especially true when earrings are worn for an extended period of time.

Over time, your greasy skin and clogged pores will get worse, and if you don’t exfoliate and clean out your ear piercings and the earrings properly, you will have the gunk build-up, and it may turn black or green, and in other cases, have the worst smell, called the cheese

Overuse of earring cleaners can make it harder to clean earrings, so it's important that you work on ways of keeping the cleaner that you use away from your ears.


Tips for cleaning the gunk on your earring

It is vital to take good care of your earrings and ear piercings so that the earring posts won’t get blocked and damaged due to the overgrowth of bacteria, fungus, and yeast.



  1. Clean the earrings with hydrogen peroxide

If your earrings are full of gunk and you need to clean it all out, first you need to disinfect the earrings by cleaning them in hot water, then remove the ear

Hydrogen peroxide is a powerful and effective way to clean earrings. It’s a great way to clean your earring and can remove most earwax.

If your earrings are dirty or if they need removal of the gunk, hydrogen peroxide is a great option for you.

If the earrings are too murky, you should place them in a small bowl with enough hydrogen peroxide to cover the pieces of jewelry. Let them soak for a few minutes.

You use a cotton swab to clean the gunk, then rinse it off, and then use a clean piece of cotton cloth to dry the gunk.

Dip a piece of the cotton pad in peroxide, and then use it to gently clean the earrings.


  1. Clean earrings with saltwater

Wash your hands thoroughly, preferably using antibacterial soap.

Use a cotton swab or a Q-Tip dipped in salt water to clean the earring. Gently wipe the earrings, making sure to get out all the gunk.

The best way to clean your ear piercing is by using a cotton swab dipped in salty water.

An alternative to the saline solution would be rubbing alcohol, to be used the same way.

Alcohol is an effective cleaner and also a great solvent. It will dissolve the buildup from your gunk.

I think it does a pretty good job at cleaning jewelry and metal as well. It doesn’t have a strong smell and it won’t burn the skin of the user.


  1. Hot Water/ Steam

You can also take out the gunk from your earrings by holding the earrings up to the steam.

So, just boil some hot water in a kettle, then hold up the earring posts or parts where the gunk is.

You need to wear gloves to avoid burning.

Steam not only loosens and removes the gunk, but it also cleans and leaves jewelry looking sparkly.




If you want to get rid of the gunk on your earrings, we hope that you'll have a more pleasant experience when it comes to doing so, thanks to the tips mentioned above.


April 21, 2022 — Chloe Guan

We design for life, create for the world.

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