More than 80% of the American population has pierced earlobes, and many have experienced the unpleasant smell of ear cheese that can accumulate on earring backs. If you are one of those people who dislikes the smell of gunk on your earring backs, you are not alone.

In this article, you will learn about the causes of smelly earring backs and some tips on how to clean them. By the end of this post, you will be equipped with the knowledge to keep your earrings smelling fresh and clean.

Key Takeaways

  • Smelly earring backs are a common problem for many people with pierced ears.
  • The buildup of bacteria and dead skin cells is the main cause of smelly earring backs.
  • Regular cleaning and proper hygiene practices can help prevent the buildup of ear cheese on earring backs.

Earring Backs Smell Bad – Anyone Else?

Earring backs are designed to hold earrings in place, but they can also cause a foul smell. This is a common problem that many earring wearers experience. The smell of earring backs can differ based on how the body responds to being in contact with metal. Some people’s bodies react more to metal than others, causing a stronger smell.

This smell is commonly referred to as “ear cheese.” It can be a problem if not dealt with properly. People with new piercings are more prone to ear cheese since their bodies are still reacting to the fresh wound by producing more skin cells.

To avoid this problem, it is recommended to clean your earrings and earring backs regularly with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. You can also use specialized earring cleaning solutions that are available in the market.

In conclusion, the smell of earring backs is a common issue that many earring wearers face. It is caused by the body’s reaction to metal and can be avoided by proper cleaning and maintenance of earrings and earring backs.

Why Do the Backs of My Earrings Smell?


When a person gets an ear-piercing, it takes time to heal. If the piercing gets infected, it may produce a smell that ends up on the backs of earrings. Infection can occur when the piercing is left unclean for a while, making it easy for bacteria to thrive.

An infected ear-piercing produces a distinct smell that can stick to earring backs. Drainage from the infection, such as pus and blood, may also accumulate on the backs of earrings. Other signs of infection include swelling of the ear, a burning sensation, and fever.

Poor Hygiene

The skin behind the ears tends to trap oils and sweat, especially if a person has long hair. When a person does not pay attention to cleaning their earrings and the backs, poor hygiene can cause the backs of earrings to smell.

The body continually renews skin cells, and if the earrings and backs press against the skin, they are likely to smell. It is essential to clean the backs of earrings regularly to maintain good hygiene.

Wearing Earrings for Too Long

Wearing the same pair of earrings for an extended period can cause the backs of earrings to smell. The buildup of gunk on the ears can also cause this. This can also happen to older individuals with ear piercings that have started stretching.

It is advisable to change earrings regularly and clean them frequently to prevent the buildup of gunk on the ears.

Why Does the Back of My Ears Smell Even After Washing?

Washing the back of your ears is a good way to maintain hygiene and eliminate any unpleasant smells. However, for some people, this may not be enough. The back of the ears may continue to smell even after washing due to excessive secretions from the body.

The ears contain sweat glands that produce perspiration. When perspiration comes into contact with oxygen and bacteria, it can start to emit an unpleasant odor. In addition, the sebaceous glands around the ears secrete sebum, a combination of fats and wax. If the body has overactive glands that produce excessive sebum and sweat, a persistent smell may remain even after washing.

This is a common issue for earring wearers, especially those who experience acne. The combination of sweat, sebum, and bacteria can lead to a persistent odor. To combat this issue, it is recommended to clean the ears regularly with a gentle cleanser and avoid wearing earrings for extended periods.

How to Clean Your Smelly Earring Holes

To prevent buildup and eliminate the smell of your earring holes, it is important to clean them regularly. Begin by using soap and warm water to clean the holes thoroughly. This will help to remove any dirt or bacteria that may be causing the unpleasant odor.

For additional cleaning power, consider using an antibacterial cleanser. However, it is important to avoid using strong antibacterial agents, as these can cause inflammation or redness on the skin.

Be careful not to overclean the earring holes, as this can irritate the sensitive skin around them. Once you have cleaned the holes, give them time to breathe before wearing your favorite earrings.

To minimize the risk of infection, it is recommended that you remove your earrings before bedtime. By following these simple steps, you can keep your earring holes clean and free of unpleasant odors.

Tips for Cleaning Your Smelly Earring Backs

If you’re experiencing smelly earring backs, it’s time to take action. Here are some tips to help you clean them effectively.

Start by Washing Your Hands

Before handling your earring backs, make sure to wash your hands with soap and water. This will prevent any bacteria or dirt from transferring onto your jewelry, which can cause further issues.

Get the Right Cleaning Agents

Hydrogen peroxide and alcohol are effective cleaning agents for smelly earring backs. These solutions help eliminate the odor and disinfect the jewelry. However, if your earrings have precious stones, avoid using these agents as they can cause tarnishing.

You can also find specialized cleaning agents for jewelry at an affordable price. Make sure to read the labels and instructions carefully before using them.

Wear Gloves

Even if your hands are clean, it’s best to wear gloves when handling cleaning agents. This will protect your skin from any potential irritation caused by the solutions.

By following these simple tips, you can keep your earring backs clean and odor-free.

Prepare the Cleaning Surface and Get Cotton Balls

Before cleaning your earrings, it is important to prepare the cleaning surface and gather the necessary materials. First, find a small and clean rag to place your earrings on during the cleaning process. Next, gather some cotton balls or swabs to use with your cleaning agent.

Once you have your materials, dip the cotton swab into the cleaning agent and wipe the earring backs. It is important to wipe any buildup in the holes of the earring backs with the disinfectant. As you clean the earring backs, you may notice a stain on the cotton swab. Continue cleaning until the cotton swab is clear.

After cleaning, rinse the earring backs in warm water and place them on a clean and dry surface to air dry. By properly preparing the cleaning surface and using cotton balls or swabs, you can effectively and safely clean your earrings.


In conclusion, wearing earrings can enhance your beauty, but it may also lead to the problem of ear cheese. To avoid this, follow the tips discussed above to eliminate the smell from your earring backs. Additionally, it is important to avoid wearing earrings for extended periods of time. Stephanie, a jewelry designer with years of experience in the fashion industry, recommends these tips for maintaining healthy and beautiful ears. By implementing these tips, you can enjoy wearing earrings without any unpleasant side effects.