If you want your tattoo instruments or piercing tools to last, it's important to maintain them properly. Keeping your tools well-cleaned and maintained also ensures your clients' safety. Using an unsterilized tool on a client could cause infection or transmission of a blood-borne disease, and using rusty or otherwise ill-maintained tools could lead to tetanus in someone who hasn't had a tetanus shot in the past decade. For these reasons, you must clean and sterilize your tools in between every use, and you should lubricate those tools with moving parts religiously, too.
Steps for Cleaning & Lubricating Body Mod Tools
- Gather all the tools you plan to clean and take them into your clean room.
- Turn on your sink and let the water run until it's warm. Do not let it get hot.
- Rinse your instruments with the warm running water.
- Soak your instruments in a neutral pH(7) disinfectant/cleaner for 10 minutes. Wavicide works well.
- Use an ultrasonic cleaner to clean your instruments for 10 minutes. Make sure you leave your instruments in the open position when you place them in the ultrasonic cleaner.
- Allow your instruments to air dry after taking them out of the ultrasonic cleaner.
- Spray your tools with moving parts, like pliers, with a surgical instrument lubricant. Sklar Instru-Guard Lube works well.
- Allow your tools to air dry again after spraying them with a lubricant.
- Place each instrument in a sterilization pouch or length of sterile nylon tubing (make sure tools with moving parts remain in the open position), seal the pouches, and autoclave them. Do not remove your tools from the sterilized pouches until you've setup a sterile field and are ready to use them to tattoo or pierce someone.
Did You Know... Brown marks on your tools aren't necessarily rust. Actually, what you're seeing is a brown stain caused by surface deposits from a cleaning solution with a high pH. Low pH detergents can cause severe pitting, corrosion, and black stains. That's why it's recommend you only use neutral pH(7) detergents like Wavicide to clean tattoo and piercing instruments.
Note: See our Sterilizing Nylon Tubing article for information on properly cleaning nylon tubing before using it to autoclave your tattoo or piercing tools.