In our article, Maintaining a Sterile Work Environment, we touched on some of the best cleaners and disinfectants to stock in your shop. Here we'll talk about each type of shop disinfectant in more detail and explain which ones to use on what and when.
Note: If you're looking for antiseptic skin cleansers to disinfect clients' skin in preparation for body mods, please visit our Skin Prep & Skin Cleansers section.
Must-Have Disinfectants for Your Tattoo & Piercing Shop
Here's a handy shopping list to help you stock up on all the different types of disinfectants you'll need to use in your tattoo and piercing shop on a daily basis. Of the products listed, you'll need at least one surface disinfectant and one instrument disinfectant, and you may find that it's better to have more than one of each type on hand once you read the sections below and learn more about these products. If you have an ultrasonic cleaner, you should also stock both of the last two products listed, which work together to help you get the most out of your ultrasonic cleaner.
Further down, we'll get into what each disinfectant does and when to use it, as well as how these comparable products stack up against each other.
Surface Disinfectants to Stock in Your Shop
- MadaCide-FD - If you choose this option over SaniZide Plus® Spray or Microcide SQ® Disinfectant, you should buy the 32 oz. spray bottle of MadaCide-FD hospital-grade, fast-drying infection control spray and a gallon-sized bottle of MadaCide-FD for refilling your spray bottle since you'll be using it a lot to clean many surfaces in your shop. We also suggest purchasing a tub of MadaCide-FD wipes for times when you need to do quick wipe-downs. (The wipes are perfect for quickly and effectively wiping down tattoo chairs and piercing tables.)
- SaniZide Plus® Spray - Alternatively or in addition to MadaCide-FD, you may also want to purchase a 2 oz. spray bottle of SaniZide Plus® Spray for disinfecting surfaces. Look over the comparison chart below to see if you feel this would be a worthwhile addition to your disinfecting arsenal, or possibly even your preferred disinfectant. (If that ends up being the case, you'll want more than just 1 little 2 oz. bottle.)
- Microcide SQ® Disinfectant - If you choose this disinfectant over or in addition to the others listed above, you should purchase an 8 oz. Bottle of Microcide SQ Disinfectant Concentrate that can be diluted to create 12 gallons of disinfecting solution and a 32 oz. empty spray bottle for diluting and using Microcide SQ.
Instrument Disinfectants to Stock
- Sklar - This comes in 3 forms, and it's wise to have all 3 on hand for use in different situations. Pick up at least one bottle each of the 8 oz. Sklar Lube Spray Instrument Cleaner, 8 oz. Sklar Kleen Solution for Cleaning Instruments by Hand, and 1 Gallon Glutaraldehyde-Free Sklar Soak Decontaminating Disinfectant for Surgical Instruments.
- Wavicide-01 - This cold sterilization germicide disinfectant solution is available in 3 sizes: Wavicide-01 1 quart bottle, Wavicide-01 1 gallon jug, and, for those who use it frequently or just want to take advantage of a great bulk price break, a case of 4 1 gallon bottles of Wavicide-01.
Ultrasonic Cleaner Disinfectants to Stock
- UltraDose & Ink-Out 2-Step System - These two products go hand-in-hand, so get a jug of Ultradose Germicidal 1st Step Hands-Free Concentrated Disinfecting Solution and one jug of Ink-Out 2nd Step Tattoo Tube Cleaner, both of which make 16 gallons of solution a piece.
When to Use Which Disinfectants
Each of the disinfectants above serves its own purpose within a tattoo and piercing shop. It's necessary to have at least one type of surface disinfectant and one type of instrument disinfectant, and the 2-step system for cleaning tattoo tubes and instruments in an ultrasonic cleaner is quite helpful to have on hand, too. Although it's fine to choose one cleaner from each set, you may find it valuable to have each one of the products listed above in stock. That way you can try them all out and figure out which one is best for you, or have multiple resources available at all times so you can pick and choose the best one based on the cleaning job at hand.
Disinfecting Surface Cleaners
SaniZide, Madacide and Microcide SQ are all one-step EPA-registered infection-control cleaners that will also deodorize, disinfect, and generally sanitize hard, non-porous surfaces like counter tops, floors, walls, cabinets, stainless steel surface and other shop surfaces. All three products comply with the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, which requires that a tuberculocidal disinfectant be used wherever gross contamination has occurred.
Since these three disinfectants serve similar purposes and can be hard to differentiate at a glance, we've provided a side-by-side comparison below so you can read the facts and decide which is the better option for your shop, or if you'd be better off having two or all three options on hand.
Microcide SQ® Disinfectant
SaniZide Plus® Spray
|Effective Against...||Microcide SQ has EPA-approved efficiency claims for 114+ organisms. It's also USDA approved for use as a food and non-food D2 contact sanitizer, as a carpet sanitizer against odor-producing bacteria, and as a laundry additive with residual activity. Microcide SQ® helps meet all OSHA and Federal regulations for bloodborne pathogens and will kill the HIV (AIDS), HBV (Hepatitis B), and HCV (Hepatitis C) viruses, as well as drug-resistant bacterial strains when applied for the appropriate amount of contact time.||SaniZide Plus® Spray kills TB, HIV, Hepatitis A, B, & C, MRSA, VISA, VRE, and now CA-MRSA.||
Madacide is fungicidal, pseudomonacidal, virucidal, bactericidal, and tuberculocidal. Specifically, it kills Staphylococcus Aureus, Pandemic 2009 H1N1 Influenza A virus (formerly swine flu), Pseudomonas Aeruginosa, Influenza A2/HK, Herpes Simplex Type II, Polio 1 virus, Rhinovirus, HIV-1 (AIDS), Salmonella choleraesuis, Staphylococcus aureus, VRE, canine parvovirus, Tricophyton mentagrophytes, Aspergillus niger, Candida albicans, Mycobacterium bovis BCG (Tuberculosis), & Klebsiella pneumoniae.
|Formula Type||This is a broad-spectrum, hospital-grade, dual-quaternary ammonium compound with 3% ethyl alcohol for cleaning/disinfecting hard surfaces.||This is an alcohol-free broad-spectrum quaternary ammonium compound for cleaning and disinfecting hard surfaces.||This is a fast-drying, alcohol-based, broad-spectrum formula for cleaning and disinfecting hard surfaces.|
|Time to Kill||Takes anywhere from 30 seconds to 30 minutes, depending on the virus or bacteria. See Efficacy PDF for info.||Simply labeled as "Fast Acting".||Claims to kill HIV in 30 seconds, Hepatitis B in 3 minutes, and TB in 6 minutes.|
|Convenience Factor||Microcide is available in both a handy spray bottle and as concentrate.||SaniZide comes in a handy 2 oz. spray bottle only.||MadaCide-FD comes in a refillable spray bottle and in wipe form. Plus, a large liquid refill bottle is available.|
|MSDS||View Microcide MSDS||View SaniZide Plus® MSDS||View MadaCide-FD MSDS|
Other Considerations: Of the 3 options, only SaniZide is alcohol-free, so this may be the better option for you if you have a sensitivity or general aversion to alcohol. That said, MadaCide-FD and Microcide SQ® are noted as killing a broader range of bacteria and viruses than SaniZide. The only exception to that statement is that SaniZide appears to be the only one of the 3 options to kill Hepatitis A, B and C. It's also available in a smaller bottle and at a lower price point that's relative to the amount of cleaner you get in a 2 oz. bottle. So if you just want to try out a small amount of one of the three options, SaniZide offers the best opportunity to do that. Effectiveness-wise, though, MadaCide-FD and Microcide may be your better options.
When it comes to disinfecting instrument cleansers, there are two we highly recommend: Sklar and Wavicide. Both soaking solutions are non-corrosive, they can prevent spotting and staining, and they can prolong the life of your instruments. The commonalities between them end there, though. For instance, you only need to submerge instruments in Sklar Soak for 3 minutes to get its full benefits, while Wavicide-01 requires a 45-minute-long soak.
To help you better understand the variances between the two products and decide which is best for you, or if you should be using both for different things, we've prepared another side-by-side product comparison for you.
Wavicide Soaking Solution
|Effective Against...||Soaking instruments in EPA-registered Sklar for 3 minutes substantially reduces the risk of exposure to many infectious organisms, bacteria and fungi. Specifically, it's effective against TB, HBV, HIV-1 (AIDS), hydrophilic and Lipophilic viruses, MRSA, VRE and other bacteria, and fungi.||Using the EPA-approved quantitative method, Wavicide-01 kills M.tuberculosis in 45 minutes at room temperature.|
|Formula Type||This ready-to-use, Glutaraldehyde-free sterilizer has a non-caustic formula that allows it to be used as a manual cleaner and in ultrasonic units.||This ready-to-use, 2.65% Glutaraldehyde-based sterilizer has a pH of about 6.3, which makes it very stable and noncorrosive. It does not contain the suspected carcinogen ortho-phenyl phenol. It has a mild, fresh-scented aroma.|
|Time to Kill||3 Minutes||45 Minutes|
|MSDS||View Wavicide-01 MSDS|
In addition to Sklar Soak, Sklar Kleen is a good disinfecting product to have on hand for times when you want to hand-clean your instruments, possibly because they need to be scrubbed rather than just soaked. You can use Sklar Kleen with an appropriate brush to clean instruments before running them through an ultrasonic cleaner, followed by an autoclave.
Sklar Lube Spray Instrument Cleaner is an easy-to-use, water-soluble lubricant and rust inhibitor that doesn't contain silicone, but that does contain bacteriostatic (disinfecting) preservatives. It's effective even after you've run your instruments through an autoclave, although we recommend lubricating your instruments prior to autoclaving in our Proper Tattoo & Piercing Tool Maintenance article. If you use Sklar Lube regularly, it will help extend the life of your piercing tools and other instruments. It also prevents spotting, corrosion and staining, and it will prolong the cutting edge of blades/knives.
Disinfectants for Use With Ultrasonic Cleaners
UltraDose is an EPA-registered, hospital-grade disinfectant that reduces the risk of infection and allows for safe handling of tubes and other instruments throughout the cleaning process. It's used in the first step of the cleaning process, during which you soak your tubes to disinfect them and loosen up any ink and debris trapped inside before running them through your ultrasonic cleaner. Technically speaking, you could skip this step and go right to running the tubes through your ultrasonic cleaner; however, a soak in UltraDose is highly recommended to ensure that your tubes are as clean and sterile as possible by the end of the cleaning and sterilization process and before being reused.
If your ultrasonic cleaner came with an auxiliary cleaning pan, you can add the UltraDose solution to that, set it atop your ultrasonic cleaner, and let your tubes and other instruments soak for awhile prior to running them through the machine. If you don't have an auxiliary pan, you can use a small bucket or another container instead. Keep in mind that you only need 1 oz. of concentrated UltraDose solution to create a gallon of germicidal disinfecting solution.
Once your tubes and instruments have been thoroughly soaked, run them through your ultrasonic cleaner with the Ink-Out solution. Note that it's a concentrated solution, so you should dilute 1 part of Ink-Out to 30 parts water. Place the diluted solution directly in the ultrasonic machine, followed by the parts you wish to clean (within the ultrasonic cleaner's basket, of course). Make sure the machine is filled 2/3 full of diluted Ink-Out solution. Run the ultrasonic cleaner until the tubes are free of ink. Afterwards, plunge the tubes with a wire brush and cleaning solution like Sklar, and rinse thoroughly under running water. You should wrap up by sterilizing the tubes in an autoclave prior to using them.
The pan full of UltraDose should be changed every day or two. The changing of the Ink-Out solution will vary depending on how many tubes have been cleaned and how dirty the solution gets.
For reference, the video below compares Ink-Out cleaner vs. another leading brand.
Other Helpful Resources
- Maintaining a Sterile Work Environment
- Proper Tattoo & Piercing Tool Maintenance
- Sterilization by Steam
- Sterilizing With Nylon Tubing
- Infectious Control, Cleaners & Disinfectants
- Autoclave Sterilizers
- Ultrasonic Cleaners
- Skin Prep & Skin Cleansers