Hygiene is imperative for a fresh piercing. You’re at risk for infection every time you expose the wound to bacteria. The first rule of piercing hygiene is to never touch your piercing with dirty hands. Always wash your hands before touching your new adornment. But hands are not the only conduit for bacteria. We take for granted many everyday objects.

Each square inch of your cellphone contains roughly 25,000 germs, making it one of the filthiest things you come in contact with on a daily basis. Germs like staphylococcus, micrococcus and bacillus can be found on phones. Bacteria can live on your phone for up to a week. Even viruses can make it to your finger tips just by touching the screen of someone else’s phone. Use sanitizing wipes to clean your phone or dampen a soft cloth or paper towel with standard rubbing alcohol. (Check with your phone manufacturer first to make sure that the surface is safe to clean!)

Towels make very happy homes for bacteria. A few years ago, a microbiologist tested over 500 towels across the U.S., and he found incidences of e-coli and even salmonella. You bathe and then dry off in the towel. Maybe you had some bacteria on your skin and they get into the towel. It’s wet. It’s moist. They grow. And grow. And grow. You may start out with a few germs, but in a few days you’ve got millions. Wash your towels after every three uses. Also, never ever use a hand towel near a new facial piercing.

Same goes for your bed linens. If you’ve a new above-the-neck piercing, use a fresh pillowcase before you go to sleep, and then dress it in a clean t-shirt. The following night, flip the pillow over and use the second clean surface of the shirt. The third night, turn the shirt inside out, and then flip it again the fourth night. Replace the shirt every four nights.

Loofahs, natural sponges and plastic poufs are great for sloughing off dry skin and getting squeaky clean in the shower, but they can host and transmit bacteria as well. When you use them, you’re spreading yesterday’s dirt back on your body. Make sure you let them dry in a well-ventilated environment like outside of the shower with a window cracked. At least once a week, give your sponge or pouf a cleaning of its own. A quick dip in a mixture of 50% water and 50% white vinegar will naturally disinfect and freshen them without the use of harsh chemicals. If you have a cold or skin infection, clean them after each use to stop the spread of germs.

Rockin’ Rob