Earring Backs Smell – How to Deal With It?

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According to statistics, more than 80% of the American population has pierced earlobes. Whether you pierced your ears as a child or as an adult, you may have experienced ear cheese at some point. If you dislike the smell of the gunk that tends to build up on your earring backs, you are not alone.

We created this post to help you learn more about why your earring backs smell and what you can do about it. By the end of this post, you will also learn some tips on cleaning smelly earring backs. Enjoy!


Earring backs smell bad- Anyone else?

Earring Backs Smell

Most earrings come with friction backs designed to hold them in place. The smell of earring backs is a common problem many earring wearers experience. Whether you have old or new piercings, you may notice this smell when you introduce a foreign body to the skin.

The smell of earring backs differs based on how the body responds to being in contact with metal. People’s bodies respond differently to metal depending on their immune systems.

If your body reacts more to metal, you will likely notice earring backs smelling more than an individual whose body reacts less to metal.

This is what is referred to as ear cheese. It can be a problem if you don’t understand the right way to deal with it. People with new piercings are more prone to ear cheese since their bodies still react to the fresh wound by producing more skin cells.


Why do the backs of my earrings smell?

Earring Backs Smell

Though ear cheese is natural when you have pierced ears, the smell is gross. The back of your earrings can smell due for the following reasons.



An ear-piercing is a wound that takes some time to heal. If it gets infected, you may easily notice a smell coming from the back of your earrings. Getting an infection on the piercing is easy if you leave it unclean for a while since it can easily attract bacteria.

An ear-piercing starts producing a distinct smell that ends on the backs of earrings when an ear piercing is infected. Drainage from the infection, like pus and blood, tends to stick to earring backs. Other signs of infection include swelling of the ear, burning sensation, and fever.

Earring Backs Smell

Poor hygiene

Most people do not pay attention to the ears and earrings when taking a bath. Poor hygiene can make the backs of earrings start smelling since the skin behind your ears tends to trap oils and sweat, especially if you have long hair.

The body keeps on renewing skin cells. When you don’t clean the earrings and backs which press against the skin, they are likely to smell.

Earring Backs Smell

Wearing earrings for too long

Are you always on a certain pair of earrings? If yes, the earring backs may start smelling due to the buildup of gunk on the ears.

This can also happen to an older person with ear piercings that have started stretching.


Why does the back of my ears smell even after washing?

Earring Backs Smell

Though observing hygiene is one of the recommended ways to eliminate smell in the ears, this does not always work for everyone. If the back of your ears still smells even after washing, it may be due to excessive secretions from your body. The ears contain sweat glands that secrete perspiration.

This starts smelling as soon as it gets into contact with oxygen and bacteria. The sebaceous glands around the ears secrete sebum, a combination of fats and wax.

If your body has overactive glands which tend to secrete sebum and sweat in large quantities, you may notice a smell that does not go away even after washing the back of your ears. This mostly happens to earring wearers who experience acne.


How to clean your smelly earring holes

Earring Backs Smell

Your earring holes need special attention to ensure that they don’t smell. If you are already dealing with a foul smell from the earring holes, you should clean them. Use soap and warm water to clean your earring holes. These will not only eliminate the smell but also prevent buildup.

Feel free to use an antibacterial cleanser as you clean smelly earring holes. Do not use a strong antibacterial agent to clean smelly earring holes since this can cause inflammation or redness on the skin. Be careful not to overclean the earring holes since doing this can irritate the sensitive skin.

Once you clean the earring holes, give them time to breathe before wearing your favorite earrings. You can also do some things to minimize the risk of infection, such as removing earnings before bedtime.


Tips for cleaning your smelly earring backs

 Earring Backs Smell

Apart from cleaning earring holes, you should also pay attention to your jewelry. Focus on earring backs to eliminate the smell. Here are some tips you should pay attention to when cleaning smelling earring backs.


Start by washing your hands

Before you handle earring backs, you should clean your hands under running water and with soap.

Earring Backs Smell

Get the right cleaning agents

Some cleaning agents you can use on earring backs include hydrogen peroxide and alcohol. These are great since they take care of contaminated earring backs and eliminate the foul smell on them.

You can also get cleaning agents at a low cost. If your earrings have precious stones, you should not subject them to such cleaning agents since this can cause tarnishing.


Wear gloves

Earring Backs Smell

Even if your hands are clean, you should avoid handling earring backs without gloves. Gloves are important when using the above cleaning agents since they can prevent your hands from irritation.


Prepare the cleaning surface and get cotton balls

Earring Backs Smell

You need a small and clean rag to place your earrings and some cotton balls or swabs. Once you have this, you can dip the cotton swab into the cleaning agent and wipe the earring backs. Do not forget to wipe any buildup in the holes of the earring backs with the disinfectant.

As you start wiping down the earring backs, you will notice a stain on the cotton swab. Continue cleaning them until the cotton swab is clear. Once you get to this point, you can rinse the earring backs in some warm water and let them dry on a clean and dry surface.



Wearing earrings can make you look more beautiful. One of the common problems that you may experience is ear cheese.

Sometimes, you may notice a smell from your earring backs. You can eliminate it by following the tips we discussed above.

Also, remember not to wear earrings for so long.

Hey! I finally find the Answer!