Sterilization Facts

Sterilization is a necessary process that removes microorganisms and pathogens from your salon and equipment. It typically involves subjecting surfaces and objects to extreme heat or pressure.

Many salon owners and beauty professionals use this process to eliminate non-pathogenic and pathogenic spores, fungi, and viruses from instruments that enter or touch any part of the body. Sterilization should also include anything that comes into contact with blood or other bodily fluids.

The Importance of Sterilization

Your salon or spa is a public facility, so it’s up to you to take steps that reduce health hazards. For example, keeping the floors dry reduces slipping risks; giving the same care to tools and equipment that come into contact with clients’ bodies is vital.

Ensuring the health and safety of everyone in a salon is not only extremely important, it’s also the law. You must be registered and licensed if your business performs skin treatments like chemical peels or waxing. This licensure indicates your awareness of regulations around sterilization and safety.

Sterilization Process

Follow these best practices to create a safe and healthy environment for you, your customers, and your coworkers.


Use soap and warm water to clean your salon, tools, and equipment. The soaps at this stage should be free of chemicals and harsh abrasives. Disinfectants only work on thoroughly clean items and surfaces.

Change Disinfectant Regularly

Ensure that your disinfectant solution is clear rather than cloudy. When you notice debris and dirt in the liquid, change the disinfectant. Get into the habit of changing your disinfectant between each client.

Keep Track of Contact Times

Understand how long each tool, machine part, or surface area needs to soak or be cleaned with disinfectant. Following proper contact times is vital so that dangerous pathogens get destroyed. For example, the contact time is 2-4 minutes if you use wipes. Immersion liquids or sprays usually take at least 10 minutes to work thoroughly and eliminate all pathogens.

Sanitize After Every Client

Sanitize your combs, clippers, brushes, tweezers, and any other tools you use between clients. This step includes washing and drying towels and capes as well, so make sure you have enough for a full day of clients.
Wash all tools first with soap and warm water. Disinfect if necessary and submerge in a wet sanitizer for the approved contact time.
Be sure to throw away plastic gloves and any other disposable equipment that touched a client. Never use anything twice without sanitizing it first.

Use Effective Disinfectants

Make sure you're using EPA-registered disinfectants. Check the labels and, depending on your needs, verify that the product is viricidal, bactericidal, and/or fungicidal.

Consider Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Although PPE might not be required by law, using it shows your clients that you care about sanitation and their health. Before an appointment, check with the client about any health issues, including latex allergies, and then use your best judgment to determine what to wear.

Look Into Single-Use Items

Some single-use items in your salon or spa can help with sterilization, sanitation, safety, and overall cleanliness. Options include disposable towels, gloves, neck strips, and brushes. Consider what might be helpful when creating an inventory or checklist.
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