November 4, 2015

How to Sterilize Nail and Other Tools in a Salon

To become a professional cosmetologist, esthetician, or barber, you must first pass the California State Board exam. Some of the most common errors made during the exam relate to cleanliness and sanitation of your cosmetology tools. Don’t let these mistakes stop you from achieving your dreams! Here’s how to sterilize your nail tools and other cosmetology tools in a salon.

1. Always Use the Appropriate Salon and Cosmetology Tools

To prevent the spread of bacteria, use the right nail and barbering tools depending on the product you’re using. Be aware of the proper application techniques for creams, lotions, scrubs, waxes, and oils. For example, nail oils should be applied with a brush or spatula that has not touched the skin.

2. Clean, Disinfect, and Sterilize Reusable Salon Tools

Follow this two-step process to ensure that your tools are safe for reuse.

  • First, clean off any debris and residue. Follow the appropriate cleaning method depending on the material. For example, use a scrub brush to clean abrasive files, buffers, and paddles. Whereas, an acetone soak is the better option for metal electric file bits.
  • Second, fully immerse tools with EPA approved disinfectant and let them air dry before your next use.

Salon Cleaning Supplies like Barbicide

There a few different salon cleaning supplies you should always have available.

  • Disinfectant solutions from companies like Barbicide are popular. Use them to clean and sterilize nail tools and other equipment.
  • Disinfectant wipes or sterilization pouches also come in handy, as they are easy to apply and use.
  • Dry sanitizers or sterilizers are great places to store your clean tools.
  • Comb and brush cleaners are necessary in salons. These extend the life of your brushes.
  • Generic floor cleaners keep your salon in tip-top shape.

3. Throw Out Disposable Salon Items

If a product is labeled disposable or for single use only, be sure to throw it out after use. Do not attempt to clean or reuse it on multiple clients. For example, cotton balls, wooden applicators, toe separators, and many nail files and buffers are only meant to be used one time.

4. Keep Your Salon Workspace Safe and Clean

Be sure that everything is in its proper place. Cords for curling irons and electric razors should be well organized so that you and your clients don’t trip over them. Wash towels, sheets, and robes in 160 degree water for at least 25 minutes. Foot basins can be a breeding ground for bacteria, so be sure to clean and disinfect the jets and basin thoroughly after each client.

For more information about health and safety requirements, refer to California’s Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.


At Salon Success Academy, we want to see you succeed in a cosmetology, barbering, or nail technician career. Our instructors are committed to helping you prepare for the State Board exam. Fill out the form on this page or call 877-987-4247 to learn more today.



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