The Skinny on Sanitizing Tattoo Equipment


Tattoos are an amazing product. They bring a lifetime of pleasure and admiration, yet they also often bring the satisfied customer back for more tattoos. As tattoos continue to grow in popularity and prominence—and prominent tattoos continue to impress and gain acceptance—the tattoo provider is being recognized not only as a creative artist but also as an entrepreneur in a significant, expanding industry. The desire to continue the development of the industry raises a question, what are the qualities that lead to a satisfied, return customer? The answers most often given include: a fine tattoo that fulfills the customer’s wishes, a pleasant experience with the artist and the assurance of sanitary equipment.

The Surest Way to Disinfect Tattoo Equipment

With a first-time tattoo customer, and with their loved ones who tag along to observe the process, there are always a few predictable questions: What is the cost? How much will it hurt? And, is it safe? A reasonable price never deters someone who really wants a tattoo. Once the session is over, the customer will boast about handling the (negligible) pain. Thus the really important question that you can answer as the shop owner or the tattoo artist is, “Yes, tattooing is safe here because we use a tattoo autoclave.” An autoclave is an essential piece of equipment used throughout most medical professions to make certain that the items physicians need during their procedures are 100% sanitized. Quality autoclaves have also been designed specifically for tattoo equipment as well.

The Microbes You Want to Protect Against

As you are well aware, there is a greatly heightened concern these days about the transmission of diseases through close contact, which is why some of your customers will always want you to wear a mask. By definition, tattooing involves intimate contact with your clients and compromised dermis tissues. Here are the bad boys you want to protect against:

  • Bacterial infections. Pseudomonas aeruginosa (soft tissue diseases), strep and staph are the main concerns.
  • Toxic fungal infections. Mold spores leading to myscoses and tinea incognito are possible.
  • Viral infections. Hepatitis B and C are the more likely culprits, and of course coronavirus.

The absolute way to prevent the occurrence of any of these pathogens is to use an autoclave for tattoo equipment.

The Problem With Other Attempts at Sanitation

Obviously, all tattoo shops and artists want to use germ-free equipment while servicing customers. On the face of it, sanitation should be a simple process. In practice, however, preventing microbial infection is a lot more problematic than it seems. Some internet advisors recommend that tattoo shops use bleach on work areas between customers. While bleach is a good, broad-based cleanser, you cannot allow it to touch the skin of your clients and you cannot use it to cleanse the finest surfaces of your tools adequately. Others suggest using Barbicide, which salons have successfully used for decades to sanitize the equipment used by haircutters. It is important to remember, however, that barbers do not deal with broken skin—unless they are really clumsy—and Barbicide is not meant to kill all the pathogens that might be lurking on a needle, though an autoclave does.

The Continued Growth of the Tattoo Industry

Sanitation is something all tattoo artists and shop owners want to get right in large measure because the industry is at a pivotal point. Despite all the economic uncertainties and health concerns of the last few years, tattooing has continued to grow at better than 3% a year. This growth is forecast to continue on as tattoos gain acceptance and adherents throughout society. All artists can contribute to this expansion with beautiful art and sanitary workplaces.