Hygiene in the Nail Industry

sanitizing nail tools


Hygiene is one of the most critical aspects in the nail care industry. An effective sanitation method prevents the spread of infections between clients and also contributes to the health and safety of the nail technician. Proper sanitation ensures safe conditions for everyone within the salon.
“No one likes getting their nails done more than I do.” ~Serena Williams

I am sure many women can agree with Serena on that, making the nail industry a popular one. An aspect of running a nail salon, often forgotten, however, is the importance of sanitation.

The cuticles of the nail bed can allow bacteria to enter the system and even lead to infections if not handled properly. Different states have different requirements, but health and cleanliness are at the heart of them all.

What does it take to prevent the spread of fungal and bacterial disease from one client to another?


Knowing the ins and outs of sanitizing tools and surfaces is first and foremost. There are certain standards that need to be learned and maintained. Many cosmetology licenses require manicurists to complete at least two hours of sanitation education and again for license renewal.


It may sound simplistic, but someone has to be responsible for making sure all sanitation procedures are followed, the environment is well kept, and employees are knowledgeable. This typically falls back on the salon owner or manager.

Awareness is crucial. It is the responsibility of the nail technician for their own personal safety and the safety of the client to ensure that vaccines are up to date (for hepatitis B in particular) and are free from any infectious diseases; the salon must be clean, and equipment sanitized.

Clients should also take responsibility in making sure the nail salon they choose follows procedures.


This is a chemical process that is very effective in destroying harmful pathogenic organisms and microorganisms or make them inert; that is, to kill the pathogens and bacteria or to make them harmless. Disinfection is necessary for all reusable implements and containers used in a manicure pedicure service. The ideal method to disinfect is to clean tools with hot water and soap then clean with a wet sanitizer then immersion into an EPA-registered hospital grade liquid disinfectant such as barbicide for 20 minutes. 

Use of Sterilizers

Sterilization completely eradicates microbial capability. This process destroys all viruses, fungi, pathogenic and non-pathogenic spores. Sterilization is not absolutely necessary in the nail salon however, as this process is only critical where instruments are entering the body cavity such as in the dental and medical field. Nail salons in some states of the US are required to use FDA approved sterilizers on all metal instruments.

Sterilization Process:

· Instruments are cleaned with soap and water
· Disinfected in a wet sanitizer
· Sterilized by means of ultraviolet rays, dry heat or autoclave

If foot spas are used these must also be sanitized. This means drained and disinfected according to industry standards with records kept of the process.

Education, responsibility, and effective sanitization all play a part in the safety and pleasurable experience of nail salons. The health of our nails truly is important.