How to Clean Tongue Rings Safely and Effectively

Leigha is a writer and artist living in Toronto, Ontario. She loves to mix and match…

Tongue rings are a lot of fun! They’re unique and stylish, and they’re a great way to show off your personality. But, tongue piercings also require a lot of work.

No matter what type of tongue piercing you have, or plan on getting – whether it be the classic midline or a gutsy venom piercing – it needs to be kept clean. Otherwise, it can cause all sorts of problems, including infection.

But, how do you clean tongue piercing jewelry? Luckily, there are a few different ways to do it. 

We’ll go over each of the best methods to clean your jewelry, as well as how to clean tongue rings before a piercing, during healing, and after the piercing has healed.

How to Clean Tongue Rings Before the Piercing

One of the best things you can do before getting a tongue piercing is to have your tongue ring sterilized

Although there are a few places to buy rings for your piercing, we recommend purchasing them at stores and salons that specialize in piercings.

Piercing salons and tattoo shops will always sterilize their tongue rings before a piercing to prevent infection and often use implant-grade titanium.

Oftentimes, these kinds of stores will sell jewelry of the same material or those recommended by the Association of Professional Piercers (APP). So you can be sure you’re getting a safe, high-quality ring.

Even if the material you purchase is safe and well-handled, when you purchase a new tongue ring you should always sterilize it at home before use.

💡 Take Note: The best way to sterilize your new tongue ring is to soak it in rubbing alcohol or boiling water. These methods depend on whether your tongue ring is made of metal or plastic.

Follow these steps to clean metal tongue rings.

  1. Soak your jewelry in rubbing alcohol for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Remove the piece and rinse it thoroughly with distilled water.
  3. After rinsing, set the piece to dry on a sterile cloth or pad.
  4. Be sure the piece has dried completely before storing or using.

Rubbing alcohol can damage or deform some plastics, so it may be safer to soak a plastic tongue ring in boiling water, instead. 

Follow these steps to clean plastic-based tongue rings:

  1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil.
  2. Drop your tongue ring in the pot and let it sit in the boiling water for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Carefully remove your piece and set it on a sterile cloth or pad to dry.
  4. Make sure your tongue ring has dried completely before storing or using.

Cleaning Tongue Piercing Jewelry During Healing

The process of cleaning tongue jewelry during healing is similar to the previous method. But you will need to use extra caution and care – you don’t want to hurt yourself, of course!

Tongue piercings take anywhere from 4-8 weeks to heal, but most professionals recommend waiting at least 6-8 weeks so that the piercing can heal completely and the hole will not close up.

During this time, you can remove your tongue ring – but only for minutes – to properly clean the jewelry and piercing site. Still, we don’t recommend removing your tongue ring at all until it is fully healed.

💡 Keep in Mind: Your piercing can close if the jewelry is left out for too long. Do not remove your tongue ring for more than 15 minutes at a time during the first week of healing.

If you decide to do so, tongue piercing jewelry can be removed and cleaned at least twice a day during healing. This can be done at the same time as your regular oral hygiene routine.

We suggest using soap and water for this.

Antibacterial soap and water works just as well as rubbing alcohol or boiling water, but it’s a faster process, so you can get the ring or barbell back in faster.

The soap will also make it easier to remove plaque or other bacteria buildup with a soft-bristled toothbrush, keeping your jewelry pristine while your piercing heals.

How to clean tongue rings while your piercing is healing 

How to Clean Tongue Rings Safely and Effectively
  1. Fill a small bowl with warm water and a few drops of antibacterial soap.
  2. Gently remove the jewelry from your piercing and place it in the bowl to soak.
  3. Soak the jewelry for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Using a soft toothbrush, scrub away any buildup that may have collected on the piece.
  5. Rinse the jewelry thoroughly to remove residual dirt and soap solution.
  6. Place jewelry on a sterile cloth or pad to dry completely before putting it back in.

It’s a good idea to clean the area around your piercing using a soft toothbrush or tongue scraper while your tongue ring soaks. You may also decide to rinse your mouth using an alcohol-free mouthwash.

Practicing good oral health and hygiene will keep your piercing from becoming infected and help to speed up the healing process.

If in doubt, we recommend talking to your piercer before taking out your ring. If you’d rather not take yours out to clean, follow the steps in the next section.

How to Clean Tongue Rings Without Removing Them

Although tongue piercings are considered relatively safe compared to some other types of body piercings, there is still a risk of infection if the piercing is not properly cared for. 

Tongue piercing cleaning and aftercare are essential to avoid infection. However, tongue rings do not need to be removed as often for cleaning after a piercing has healed completely.

If you want to keep your tongue ring clean without having to remove it, one of the best things you can do is to drink plenty of water. 

Keeping yourself hydrated will help your body to stay healthy and fight infections, and it can flush out any food or bacteria that may gather inside the piercing.

Using a daily salt water mouth rinse is another great way to keep your tongue piercing clean without having to remove the jewelry.

Salt water kills unwanted bacteria in or around your piercing and helps to prevent infection – you just need a few common household materials!

Here’s how to clean using a salt water rinse.

  1. Pour 1 teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water.
  2. Stir the solution with a spoon until the salt has completely dissolved.
  3. Swish the salt water rinse around in your mouth for about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Spit the solution down the drain and rinse your mouth with fresh water.

How to Clean Tongue Rings Regularly

Keeping your tongue ring clean isn’t limited to the first few weeks of healing. Jewelry should be cleaned regularly, just like your teeth need regular cleaning to maintain oral health.

There are lots of methods you can use to routinely clean your tongue ring, including the ones we’ve already mentioned. 

Daily Cleaning

For daily cleaning, we recommend using the salt water rinse method. You may also choose to substitute the salt water with an alcohol-free mouthwash if you prefer.

For daily care, along with cleaning your tongue piercing jewelry, keep these tips in mind:

  • Wash your hands with antibacterial soap before handling your tongue ring so you don’t introduce harmful bacteria to the piercing area.
  • Stay on top of oral health and hygiene. Not only is it good for your dental health, but it’s beneficial to your piercing’s health and well-being.
  • Check for sores or other possible issues, even if there’s no pain or discomfort. Treating any potential problems sooner rather than later can prevent future complications or infections.
  • See your dentist regularly for checkups. Dental professionals can help to identify any changes that might arise with a tongue piercing and ensure there’s no damage to your dental and oral health.

Regular Long-Term Cleaning

Your tongue ring will also need regular long-term care methods on top of the daily routine. 

It’s common for tongue rings and other tongue piercing jewelry to have a build-up of plaque after a while, and one of the best ways to get rid of it is by using hydrogen peroxide.

Here’s what to do when cleaning your tongue ring with hydrogen peroxide.

  1. Pour a solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide into a small bowl.
  2. Remove your tongue ring and place it in the bowl to soak for 3-5 minutes (the solution should begin to fizz immediately.)
  3. After your jewelry has finished soaking, remove it from the solution and use a soft-bristled toothbrush to scrub away any remaining plaque.
  4. Rinse the tongue ring with clean water and dry it using a sterile cloth or pad before placing it back in the tongue.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve gone over different ways to clean your tongue ring, but piercings are complicated, and there may be some things we haven’t answered just yet.

In this section, we’ll attempt to answer some of your most frequently asked questions about tongue rings and the piercing healing process.

How do you know when your tongue ring is healed?

Not every person is the same, meaning the time it takes for a tongue piercing to heal is different for everyone. 

💡 Did You Know? On average, a tongue piercing will take anywhere from 4-8 weeks to heal. However, most professional piercers recommend waiting 6-8 weeks for the piercing to heal completely. 

Tongue piercings heal from the outside first, so even if your piercing looks like it has healed, it’s best to wait the full recommended time so that you don’t risk damaging or infecting the area.

How often should you change your tongue ring?

Your tongue ring should not be removed until the piercing has healed completely, which usually takes around 4-8 weeks. 

If you do decide to remove the ring while your piercing heals, it should only be twice a day for a maximum of 15 minutes in order to clean the jewelry.

Once the 4-8 weeks have passed and your tongue piercing is fully healed, you can choose whether you would like to keep your current jewelry in or switch it out for a new piece.

Depending on the material and quality of your jewelry, you could keep your tongue ring in for several years as long as it does not cause problems or discomfort.

There aren’t strict guidelines for switching out your tongue piercing jewelry to a new piece – as long as the piercing has healed and there are no issues. 

Once your piercing has healed, you can change it as often or keep it in as long as you’d like!

What is the white stuff on my tongue ring?

When your body is attempting to heal a new wound, it sends white blood cells to the area and these cells will eventually dry to form a scab. 

Since the mouth holds too much moisture for the cells to form a scab over a tongue piercing, it will often have a buildup of what looks like white discharge, instead.

If you see a white ring or discoloration around your tongue ring, don’t worry! White discharge is normal and is just your body’s way of dealing with a new piercing.

A Clean Tongue is a Happy Tongue

We’re sure you know by now (especially after how many times we’ve mentioned it) that keeping your piercing clean is essential to avoiding infection and promoting healing.

Now that you know the best ways to clean your tongue rings, the next step is to remember to do so regularly.

We hope that this information has been helpful and that you’ll use one (or more) of these methods to keep your tongue rings clean. Your piercing will surely thank you!

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