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Do Hand Sanitizers Effect Your Jewelry?

It was yucky last week – raining and cold. However, David and I took advantage of a break on Wednesday to do some shopping in Palestine – stocked up on a few groceries, mailed a package and ate at our favorite Mexican restaurant – El Toro.

Of course, what’s a trip to town without a stop at ‘Wally World’? . . aka Walmart. After all, they’ve got just about anything you might need or want. While walking near the ladies clothing section, noticed they had a large table set up for administering H1N1 flu vaccinations. There were 2 medical-looking ladies there with disposable gloves, bottles of the serum and what looked to be an unlimited number of syringes. (I don’t like shots!) People were NOT standing in line to get immunized – but there were a few takers coming and going.  Even though there hasn’t been as much talk lately about the flu pandemic – David and I still carry a little bottle of hand sanitizer with us and use it every time we get back to the car . . . just to kill any unwanted germs we may have picked up handling buggies (that a shopping cart to those of you not here in Texas).

Shopping last week was no exception – the hand sanitizer was in full use the whole time we were out . . . and it got me to thinking. Ordinarily I don’t wear much jewelry, but last week I was wearing a turquoise ring and the minute I poured the sanitizer into my hand – two question popped into my head – What’s in this stuff? and ‘What is it doing to my jewelry?

You probably already know that most hand sanitizers are basically a combination of

  • Gel base (some are Aloe)
  • Ethyl alcohol (active ingredient that does the killing)
  • Glycerin (softens)
  • Fragrance & color (to make it pretty)
  • and some other stuff I can’t pronounce or spell and haven’t a clue as to what it does

We squirt, pump or pour a small portion into our hands and rub it all over killing any lingering germs. But what do these ingredients to to our jewelry? If your jewelry contains medium to hard gemstones – it probably doesn’t do anything. But if your jewelry has very soft to soft gemstone – or even porous gemstones – it may cause damage or at the very least – discoloration.

Wondering what gemstones are considered ‘soft’? Some  of the more common ones that fall into this category are:

  1. Amethyst
  2. Citrine
  3. Coral
  4. Garnet
  5. Jade
  6. Lapis lazuli
  7. Moonstone
  8. Opal
  9. Pearls (Cultured and Real)
  10. Peridot
  11. Tanzanite
  12. Tourmaline
  13. Turquoise
  14. Zircon

Not only should these gemstones be kept away from sanitizers, but they are also susptible to physical damage (chipping or cracking) if worn a lot, or worn while doing housework or gardening.  And this type of  jewelry should also be kept away from most general household cleaning agents . . . as well as

  • Perfumes
  • Hair products (sprays, shampoos, etc.)
  • Skin lotions
  • Body oils
  • Perspiration (immediately clean any items that is exposed to perspiration before storing)

Keep your jewelry safe and looking its best by taking good care of it, keeping it clean and having it checked at least once a year to be sure none of the gemstones are loose. For additional information on jewelry, i.e, general gemstone information, identification and care of – visit The Compendium in the Texas Antique Mall.

2 comments to Do Hand Sanitizers Effect Your Jewelry?

  • Thanks, a great article. I use hand sanitizer many times a day in my occupation. I don’t wear jewelry, but sometimes I touch around on sensitive electronic parts.

  • janmon

    Good point – hadn’t thought about how a sanitizer might react with electronics. Wonder if the gel ingredient could get ‘gooey’ on those parts if a small amount happened to get deposited there?