How often should I clean my lip piercing?

Getting a lip piercing can be an exciting way to express your personal style. However, lip piercings require diligent aftercare and cleaning to prevent infection and promote healing. So how often should you be cleaning your new lip piercing?

Quick Tips for Cleaning a New Lip Piercing

Here are some quick tips to keep in mind for cleaning a new lip piercing:

  • Clean your piercing after eating and drinking anything other than water
  • Use a saline solution or antimicrobial mouthwash 2-3 times per day
  • Rinse your mouth with water after smoking, kissing, or oral sex
  • Avoid using alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, betadine, or ointments
  • Gently dry your piercing after cleaning and avoid playing with your jewelry

Cleaning During the Initial Healing Period

During the initial healing period, it’s important to clean your lip piercing frequently to promote healing and prevent infection. Here are some guidelines for cleaning a new lip piercing:

  • Clean your piercing at least 2-3 times per day during the first 3-6 weeks
  • Use a saline solution or antimicrobial mouthwash after meals and before bed
  • Rinse your mouth with water after smoking, kissing, eating, or drinking anything other than water
  • Soak your piercing for 5 minutes 1-2 times per day, especially after meals
  • Avoid irritants like spicy foods, citrus, and alcohol

Cleaning your new lip piercing frequently removes bacteria, food debris, and buildup during the critical initial healing period. This helps prevent infection and promotes proper healing.

Cleaning Once Healed

Once your lip piercing has fully healed, you can scale back on cleaning frequency. Here are some tips for cleaning a healed lip piercing:

  • Clean once or twice per day with saline or mouthwash
  • Rinse after meals, smoking, kissing, oral sex, or contact with bodily fluids
  • Before bed, remove jewelry and clean the piercing and jewelry
  • Soak for 2-3 minutes once or twice per week in warm saline or sea salt solution
  • Watch for signs of infection like redness, swelling, pain, heat, or discharge

Though healed lip piercings don’t need as much cleaning as a new piercing, hygiene is still important. Regular cleaning removes bacteria, food debris, and dead skin cells that can otherwise lead to infection.

What’s the Best Cleaning Solution?

Cleaning solutions for lip piercings should be gentle yet effective at removing debris and killing germs. Here are some good options:

  • Saline solution – Premixed sterile saline or a sea salt soak made with warm distilled or boiled water. Saline is gentle and removes debris.
  • Antimicrobial mouthwash – Alcohol-free mouthwashes containing cetylpyridinium chloride kill bacteria while being gentle on piercings.
  • Water – Rinsing your mouth with water can remove some debris after eating, kissing, etc. Use clean bottled, distilled, or previously boiled water.
  • Unscented liquid antibacterial soap – For soaking jewelry. Avoid getting soap inside the piercing.

Avoid harsh products like alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, ointments, or betadine that can irritate the piercing. Only use saline, mouthwash, or water to directly clean the piercing.

What’s the Right Cleaning Technique?

How you clean your piercing is just as important as what you clean it with. Follow these tips for proper technique:

  • Wash hands thoroughly before handling the piercing
  • Use a cotton swab or round soaked in saline or mouthwash to gently clean the piercing
  • Flip up the jewelry and clean the internal lip surface
  • For oral piercings, use mouthwash as a mouth rinse swishing for 30 seconds
  • Soak jewelry in an antibacterial soap bath before rinsing and drying thoroughly
  • Pat dry the outside and inside of the piercing with gauze or paper towel
  • Avoid over-cleaning, rubbing, rotating or handling the jewelry

Proper technique is vital for effectively cleaning the piercing without causing unnecessary irritation, trauma, or prolonging healing. Take care to be thorough yet gentle.

Signs It’s Time to Clean

How do you know when it’s time to clean your lip piercing? Watch for these signs:

  • After eating or drinking anything besides water
  • Before inserting jewelry or changing it out
  • When buildup like dried discharge or crust is present
  • After oral contact like kissing, sex, or sharing drinks/smoking materials
  • If the jewelry is moved or irritated
  • Before bed to remove debris accumulated during the day
  • If the piercing smells or tastes bad
  • At least twice per day even if nothing unusual has contacted the piercing

Getting in the habit of cleaning after certain activities and times of day ensures you keep your piercing free of irritants. Don’t wait until you see buildup – stick to a regular cleaning schedule.

What to Avoid When Cleaning

Certain products and cleaning methods should be avoided when caring for lip piercings:

  • No alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, betadine, ointments, or tea tree oil
  • Avoid ointments, chapstick, oils, or creams around the site
  • No cotton balls or swabs that can get fibers stuck
  • Avoid over-cleaning more than 3-4 times daily
  • Don’t rotate or move the jewelry excessively
  • No oral contact or submerging the piercing in bath water
  • Avoid biting or playing with the jewelry

Harsh products, over-cleaning, and contact can lead to irritation, infection, and other complications. Be gentle and stick to twice daily cleaning.

How Long Does Cleaning Take?

Thoroughly cleaning a lip piercing takes just a few minutes each time. Here’s a breakdown:

  • 30 seconds to wash hands before starting
  • 30 seconds to soak a cotton swab in saline solution
  • 1 minute to gently clean the external piercing site
  • 30 seconds to soak and flip up jewelry to access the inner lip
  • 1 minute to clean the inside of the piercing
  • 30 seconds to pat dry with gauze or paper towel
  • 1-2 minutes twice per week to soak jewelry in antibacterial soap

Expect the entire process to take about 5 minutes each time you clean your piercing. Better to spend a few minutes cleaning properly than deal with complications!

How Long Until I Can Stop Cleaning?

Cleaning your lip piercing should be part of your daily routine for the lifespan of the piercing. However, here are some guidelines for cleaning frequency:

  • Clean at least 2-3 times daily for the first 3-6 weeks during initial healing
  • After it’s fully healed, clean 1-2 times per day for hygiene and to prevent infection
  • Always clean after eating, smoking, kissing, oral sex, etc. even once healed
  • Clean before inserting jewelry, changing it out, or removing it
  • Increase cleaning if you notice signs of infection or irritation

Ongoing cleaning is crucial for lip piercing health and preventing dangerous infections that can damage tissue. Get in the habit of cleaning every morning and evening.

What Happens If I Don’t Clean It?

Neglecting to properly clean your lip piercing can lead to some unfortunate complications:

  • Increased risk of infection
  • Potential oral diseases like gingivitis
  • Buildup of odor, discharge, and debris around the site
  • Prolonged healing time
  • Scarring if the piercing migrates or is removed
  • Damage to gums and tooth enamel
  • Recession of gums around the piercing
  • Increased dental bills

Without regular cleaning, even healed lip piercings can harbor bacteria that leads to infection over time. Make cleaning a habit to avoid adverse effects.

Tools for Easy Cleaning

Having the right tools makes lip piercing care easy. Here are some must-have supplies:

  • Sterile saline solution or premixed sea salt soak
  • Alcohol-free antimicrobial mouthwash
  • Bottled water or distilled water
  • Cotton swabs, gauze, and paper towels
  • Travel-size containers for saline and mouthwash
  • Unscented liquid antibacterial soap for cleaning jewelry
  • A lip balm safe for piercings once healed

Invest in quality jewelry, cleaning agents, and tools for hassle-free aftercare. Having supplies on-hand makes cleaning more convenient.

Develop a Cleaning Routine

Cleaning your piercing will be easier if you develop a consistent routine. Try following these steps:

  1. Clean in the morning and evening or after meals
  2. Have cleaning supplies readily available at home and work
  3. Set phone reminders if needed
  4. Clean after any contact, even if it’s not a scheduled cleaning
  5. Stick to your saline and mouthwash – don’t be tempted to skip cleaning!
  6. Briefly soak jewelry weekly as part of your routine

Having a set schedule ensures you don’t forget cleanings or handling when in a rush. Make it part of your regular oral hygiene habits.

Other Lip Piercing Care Tips

In addition to cleaning, keep these tips in mind:

  • Avoid playing with the jewelry including biting or moving it
  • See your piercer if swelling, pain, or problems occur during healing
  • Rinse your mouth before smoking, kissing, or changing jewelry
  • Monitor for symptom of infection and contact your piercer immediately
  • Wear properly sized jewelry that doesn’t tug on the piercing
  • Don’t submerge piercing in water like baths, hot tubs, or pools

Proper aftercare promotes comfortable, non-problematic healing!

Common Questions About Lip Piercing Cleaning

Can I clean my piercing with Listerine or similar products?

Listerine contains alcohol that can dry out and irritate piercings, so it’s best avoided during healing. Once healed, alcohol-free mouthwashes are fine for occasional cleaning.

Do I need to disinfect my jewelry?

Yes, thoroughly cleaning jewelry reduces bacterial buildup. Use hot water and unscented antibacterial soap to periodically clean your posts and ends.

Should I rotate my jewelry while cleaning?

No – rotating or moving your jewelry during cleaning can prolong healing. Gently lift the end to access the inside lip, but avoid unnecessary manipulation.

My piercing seems infected – should I remove the jewelry?

No, never remove infected jewelry – this can trap the infection. See your piercer or doctor if showing symptoms of infection like pus, swelling redness, fever, or heat.

How can I clean the inside of my lip if wearing a ring?

Use a cotton swab dipped in saline solution. Turn your ring upwards to access the lower piercing hole then rotate downward to swab the top hole.

Should I clean more than twice a day?

During initial healing, no – over-cleaning can irritate the piercing. Clean more often once healed if desired. See your piercer if having complications or infection.

If mildly infected, should I clean more frequently?

No, stick to twice daily cleaning if mildly infected. Over-cleaning can aggravate irritation. See a doctor or piercer for appropriate care instructions if infected.


Caring for a new lip piercing requires diligent cleaning and hygiene to prevent dangerous infections and encourage proper healing. Use a gentle saline solution or mouthwash 2-3 times daily during initial healing, and clean at least once daily lifelong. Clean after meals, oral contact, when changing jewelry, and anytime debris is present. Avoid harsh products that can irritate the site. See your piercer promptly for any signs of infection or trouble healing. With the right solution and technique, cleaning your lip piercing takes just a few minutes but is crucial for health and aesthetics!

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