So you have just purchased your new pair of plugs and tunnels...
One of the most common questions we get after our customers have purchased a pair of plugs, hangers or tunnels is "How do I clean my plugs?" Cleaning your plugs and tunnels is important for maintaining healthy stretched ears. Bacteria, dead skin cells, and other funk can gradually build up on your plugs. There are different ways to clean the plugs, depending on the material.
Organic material will need to be properly maintained for a number of reasons, aside from cleanliness. Wood, for example, will dry out over time and occasionally needs to be conditioned to keep it from getting brittle. Also, most organic material is porous and can absorb bacteria and tiny particles that may be harmful to your ears. These plugs are cleaned differently than other materials.
Organic Plugs and Tunnels need oil
Natural oil is needed for most organic plugs, hangers, and tunnels. This includes such materials as wood, horn, and bone. Over time these materials will dry out and need a little oil conditioning to help extend the life of the plugs. There are a lot of oils on the market. Make sure you use a natural oil. Our favorite natural oil is Jojoba Oil.
Jojoba Oil is a natural oil that contains antimicrobial as well as antifungal properties. This is the best way to help kill any bacteria and fungal species that may be growing on the organic plugs. How often you use the oil really depends on such factors of the amount of wear of the plugs, where the organic plugs are stored, and the climate of the area you are living in. Typically adding oil to your plugs every 1-2 months is a good rule of thumb. Jojoba oil can be purchased pretty much anywhere.
One more Obvious Thing
Before you start cleaning your plugs, go and wash your hands! There is no sense in cleaning them if your hands are still surfaced with dirt and bacteria.
The next steps depend on what type of plugs or tunnels you have purchased from Two Feather Plugs. Below is a list of how you can clean and take care of your newly purchased pair of plugs, hangers, or tunnels.
Wood Plugs, Hangers, or Tunnels
Wood plugs and hangers need to be cleaned and oiled as they will dry out over time. We don't recommend getting wood plugs wet. So do not soak wood plugs in water or wash them under a faucet. This can cause the wood to absorb some water and eventually dry out and crack or break. To clean the plugs we suggest starting off with a dry to a slightly damp cloth and giving them a quick and gentle surface wipe. This will get off the initial dirt and bacteria. Make sure you are careful while wiping the plugs with the cloth. Some cloths will have loose threads that will snag on the carved plugs. You do not want to break your new plugs that we have worked so hard to carve!
Oil your wood plugs or tunnels
After the initial cleaning, it is time to add a natural oil. As we mentioned before we recommend using Jojoba oil. It will help clean off any funk on your wooden plugs as well as increase their lifespan. Add just a couple drops of Jojoba oil to a cloth and gently rub it into the plugs. Wood naturally becomes darker as it ages. Adding oil will also add to a very slight darkening of the wood.
Stone Plugs and Tunnels
For most stone plugs and tunnels, you do not have to worry about water expanding or making the stone crack. We still do not recommend submerging them in water. You can use a damp cloth and antibacterial soap and wash them off. After washing we recommend patting them down with a dry cloth.
Horn and Bone Plugs and Hangers
Cleaning Horn and Bone Plugs are very similar to cleaning wood plugs. Horn and bone have a little more resilience to water, but will still expand and crack if submerged. You can start by using a little more water and soap on the cloth than you might with wood to clean off the initial dirt and grime. Next, clean the plugs with natural oil (Jojoba). This will help keep the horn and bone from drying out. Over time the bone plugs will absorb the conditioning oil as well as your skin's natural oils and turn to more of an "off- white". This is the normal course of the bone material's life when being used for wear.
Stainless Steel Plugs and Tunnels
It is a little easier to clean stainless steel plugs and tunnels. You can use a regular sink faucet with warm to hot water to help rinse off the unwanted bacteria, skin, and funk that may have been building up. Put a little antibacterial soap on your fingers and wipe down the plugs. Make sure you dry them with a cloth right after you clean them. One thing to note: We recommend closing the drain! The last thing you need is your precious plug falling down into the drainpipe. Please also be aware of any other materials used in creating stainless steel plug designs. Some of these materials may not like water. If this is the case we do not recommend rinsing this off directly in the sink faucet. Rather use a wet cloth and soap to wash off the plugs trying to avoid the other material.
Glass Plugs and Tunnels
Glass plugs can also be washed with warm to hot water and antibacterial soap. You can run the plugs under the faucet. Make sure they are dried immediately. Although these are probably the easiest to clean with soap and water we still do not recommend submerging these in water.
Do you have a better way to clean your plugs?
We would love to hear your story on how you clean your own pair of plugs. If you have any other advice or if you have questions on how to clean your plugs or tunnels please join the discussion below.