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5 Tips For Keeping Tattoo Equipment Clean

illustrated tattoo setup on a dental bib with bagged machine, ink cups, razor, rinse cup, and tattoo needle

Cleanliness and good sterilization practices are always important in a tattoo studio, but as the industry looks forward to reopening in a post-COVID world, they will take on even greater importance for studio owners, artists, and customers. Below we’ll walk through five tips for keeping your tattoo equipment and studio space clean, sterile, and safe.

  1. Keep a Clean Tattoo Studioillustrated icon of a sparkling tattoo store front

    A tattoo studio should have a simple layout with smooth, accessible surfaces that are easy to disinfect on a daily basis. Restrooms, sinks, waiting areas, and display counters should all be cleaned and disinfected daily. If possible, even walls and floors should be smooth and non-porous. Especially once shops begin to reopen, it will be helpful to increase customer confidence by installing touchless hand sanitizer stations in waiting areas.

  2. Buy an Autoclave or Ultrasonic Cleanerillustrated icon of a sparkling autoclave

    An autoclave completely sterilizes tools and jewelry surfaces with pressurized steam. Most body jewelry, piercing needles and tools, and stainless steel tattooing equipment can be put in an autoclave (but probably not your tattoo machine – more on that below). Autoclaves are a pricey investment if you don’t already have one, but they are incredibly useful and ultimately cost-saving tools for most tattoo and piercing shops. If you’re a small shop or an independent artist that can’t afford to buy and maintain an autoclave, an ultrasonic cleaner or a UV sterilizer could be a good alternative.

  3. Keep a Sterile Workstationillustrated icon of a sparkling green soap bottle and cohesive bandage

    Aside from you, the chair and the tattoo machine itself, your stainless steel work table is the object in closest contact with your customers. That means it should be spotlessly clean for each use. Make sure that you disinfect each workstation every day and cover the top surface with a new sterile medical bib or medical barrier film before setting up for a client. Make sure to use disposable ink cups, and keep iodine or alcohol pads close by for wiping down skin, tools, or other surfaces. Finally, and most importantly, only touch your workstation, tools, and clients after putting on a new pair of nitrile gloves.

  4. Use Sterile Disposable Suppliesillustrated icon of A sparkling sharps container, biohazard bag, and tattoo needle

    Luckily, much common piercing and tattoo equipment is available in pre-sterilized and disposable form. Everything from piercing needles and tattoo needles to tattoo grips and tubes comes pre-sterilized and sealed in individual blister packaging. Additionally, you can ask PainfulPleasures to sterilize and seal most jewelry, piercing, and tattoo supplies you order from us by adding the item Sterilize My Jewelry to your checkout cart for each item you’d like to be sterilized. Finally, make sure you have a proper sharps disposal container for used piercing and tattoo needles.

  5. Keep Your Tattoo Machine Cleanillustrated icon of a sparkling coil tattoo machine

    Tattoo machines are one of the hardest things to keep clean due to their close proximity to clients and the complexity of their construction. Your first line of defense will be proper bagging of your tattoo machine and cords with disposable machine bags, grip sleeves, and cord barriers. After each use, you should thoroughly clean and disinfect your tattoo machine with disinfectant wipes. Unfortunately, most tattoo machines are not autoclavable due to the materials and construction of their motors, so do your best with disinfectant or throw it in a UV sterilizer.

We hope this information is helpful as you plan to reopen your tattoo studio and return to work in the coming weeks or months. Remember that PainfulPleasures is your number one online supplier of tattoo supplies and equipment, as well as news and information from the piercing and tattoo world.