This blog addresses the proper methods as to why it is important to sanitize, disinfect and sterilize items in your salon.
We sanitize in order to make a surface, our hands, a tool, etc., are clean and safe for use. Sanitation is an absolute necessity. When we sanitize, we kill the single-cell microorganisms we call bacteria. There are trillions of bacteria, and not all are bad. Non-pathogenic bacteria are harmless and beneficial, but pathogenic bacteria are harmful and can cause infection.
For this reason, a clean working environment is imperative, as is following sanitation requirements learned in beauty school, such as washing hands and fingernails with an antibacterial soap. Keep in mind that sanitation will not destroy all spores and viruses, which is where heavy duty disinfecting and sterilizing come in.
To make our hands sanitary we need to wash them for 20 seconds with soap (preferably antibacterial) and water as hot as can be comfortably tolerated. How long is 20 seconds? Remember the ABC song from your childhood? Sing it while you wash and you’ll clock in about 20 seconds (of course, if you sing it out loud people may look at you funny when you come out of the bathroom!).
To disinfect something is to render it free from pathogenic organisms or to make them inert. That is, to kill the germs and bacteria or to render them harmless.
To keep you and your client safe, any item that touches a customer must be disinfected before it can be used on any other customer. Most disinfectors kill 99.99% of germs within 30 seconds. When you disinfect you are removing potentially harmful bacteria that might not be visible to the naked eye. You can disinfect tools by soaking them in alcohol, quats, or a phenol compound such as Barbicide for at least ten minutes (see recommended instructions for products used).
Most disinfection solutions are weakened or rendered inactive by contamination of organic material such as skin or nail dust. They should be replaced daily or according to manufacturer’s directions. We also recommend disinfecting tables, handles, magnifier lamps, doorknobs, sinks and dispensers between clients.
Sterilization is the removal of all microorganisms and other pathogens from a surface or object by subjecting it to high heat or pressure such as an autoclave. When we sterilize, we completely eliminate microbial viability, killing all non-pathogenic and pathogenic spores, fungi and viruses.
In the salon, sterilization is not necessary. This process is only required on instruments entering the body cavity. This procedure is normally used in the medical and dental field. Some salons, however, do use heat or pressure to sterilize metal instruments.
For sterilizing purposes, I recommend an autoclave, and for smaller spaces a glass bead sterilizer. Always sterilize areas that encounter blood or other bodily fluids.
Instruments and tools such as tweezers and scissors should be stored in a covered container after being sterilized until you are ready to use them.