Coronavirus and jewelry: What to clean and how

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Washing hands – frequently and thoroughly – is one of the best defenses against contracting the novel coronavirus. But what about jewelry? They need to be cleaned too.

It is likely that the new coronavirus can live on some surfaces for days, so cleaning rings and watches is important. Coronaviruses, which belong to the same family as COVID-19, can live on metal, plastics, and ceramics for up to five days, one study found.

There is no need to remove jewelry while washing your hands because they need to be cleaned as well, Elaine Larson, professor emerita of nursing research at the Columbia School of Nursing, who has helped the World Health Organization develop handwashing guidelines, told the Wall Street Journal.

Read more: Coronavirus: Hand-washing is important, here's how to do it effectively

However, if jewelry is left on, it is necessary to try to scrub under the band as germs and dirt can accumulate there.

Studies have show that germs can live under rings for some amount of time, but there's limited information on whether diseases can be transmitted this way, Rochelle Walensky, chief of the division of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, told USA Today.

For more delicate jewelry that can’t withstand heavy washing or multiple rounds of hand sanitizer, it might be best to avoid wearing it for a while or clean it separately.

Speaking to Huff Post, Elizabeth Doyle, who co-owns an antique jewelry boutique in New York City, said that hand sanitizer can’t be used on organic gems, like coral or pearls.

Read more: Coronavirus: What to disinfect at home to avoid infection

If in doubt, take jewelry off before using soap on them. The best way to keep jewelry clean is with a mild dish soap, Doyle said.

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