If you ask around some people are very hesitant on which material they use to stretch their ear lobes. While some have successfully stretched without any problems at all, others stay away from certain materials and methods.
Before we go into which is the most sanitary way to stretch your ears you should have a firm understanding of the difference between these two words: Sterilization & Sanitation. Yes they both mean clean but there is a slight difference between the two types of "clean".
Sterilization is achieved by placing the jewelry in a machine called a "Autoclave". What an Autoclave does is put the jewelry through high pressure steam which rids the jewelry of any microorganisims or bacteria.
Ear TapersThe most common way to stretch ear lobes are by the use of ear tapers. Ear tapers come in a variety of materials. The two most common type of materials are 316L Surgical Grade Stainless Steel, and Acrylic.
316L Stainless Steel Ear Tapers
Acrylic Ear Tapers
The best way to disinfect a Acrylic Ear Taper ( or any acrylic body jewelry ) is to use an antibacterial soap, and let the jewelry air dry. This process should remove a majority of microorganisms that are on the ear taper or jewelry.
Because acrylic can melt under high temperatures, acrylic body jewelry cannot be put in an autoclave to become sterile. Also, If you try to soak acrylic in alcohol you will notice a wierd affect such as the jewelry loosing color and possible holes will start to appear ( this is from the acrylic breaking down), we do not recommend soaking jewelry in alcohol for an extended period of time.
How to clean a newly stretched earlobe
Sea Salt- Just as your piercer advised you when you first got your ears pierced was to soak your new piercing in sea salt. The same rules apply after every stretch. A sea salt soak should be given 2-3 days to help clean & heal the piercing.
Antibacterial Soap / Anti-microbial Soaps- Highly recommended in the piercing industry. All soaps are created differently, so a more gently soap should be used for this type of cleaning.