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How to clean your wedding and engagement rings to reduce the spread of coronavirus

Washing your hands can prevent spreading COVID-19, but what about your rings?

Bridie Wilkins

One of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus is to wash your hands. The UK Royal Pharmaceutical Society says that we must do so for at least 20 seconds if we are to get rid of germs, but what about engagement or wedding rings? Should we take them off? Holly Willoughby has recently shared her decision to leave her rings off entirely because she kept forgetting to put them back on, so should we do the same? Do we need to clean them separately? And what about hand sanitizer? We spoke to bespoke jeweller and gemmologist Emma Clarkson Webb to find out more.

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How to clean engagement rings and wedding rings

"Diamonds attract dirt incredibly easily so it's very important to clean your rings regularly," says Emma. "It's pretty simple. Just use an old, soft toothbrush, warm water and fairy liquid. Fill a bowl with warm water and a squirt of washing up liquid and let your ring soak for around thirty minutes. Gently clean with an old toothbrush and it'll be as good as new!" She adds that it's important to clean the entire ring, making sure that you get to any areas where dirt might be trapped, such as the base of the diamond.

And if you don't have a diamond? "The same applies for gemstones such as sapphires and rubies," says Emma. "But don't use any force or soap with brittle gemstones such as emeralds or opals. Warm water is fine, then finish with a cotton or linen cloth to dry or let the ring air dry."

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Gemstones shouldn't be cleaned with soap

Should I clean rings separately?

Though you might not always take your rings off when washing your hands, Emma says that it's definitely necessary, now more than ever, to take your rings off and give them a thorough clean.

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Will hand sanitizer ruin my ring?

"Excessive exposure to hand sanitizer can dull the lustre of a ring," says Emma. "It can also loosen the prongs that keep diamonds in place." To protect your rings, take them off when you apply hand sanitizer and leave the sanitizer to dry before putting your rings back on. 

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