Why is it important to have a clean salon? Why should you practice good personal hygiene? Not because they’re fun, or because they’re “the right thing to do,” or even because state board regulations require you to.
Why is it important to have a clean salon? Why should you practice good personal hygiene? Not because they’re fun, or because they’re “the right thing to do,” or even because state board regulations require you to. You should practice good sanitation and good personal hygiene simply because they are good business.
The first and most important benefit of good sanitation and personal hygiene practices is that they protect your and your clients’ health by preventing the spread of communicable diseases. And don’t think you’re not exposed to communicable diseases: Every day clients come into your salon with a cold or flu virus (often before they have symptoms). How do you avoid coming down with your client’s cold? Available studies indicate that illness and injury in the workplace can be reduced by up to 80% just by practicing good sanitation and personal hygiene.
The beauty industry’s recent concerns about the spread of the HIV (AIDS) virus and, most recently, TB, resulted in several state boards revising their disinfection regulations. The flurry of activity caused genuine alarm among some of your clients (as well some of your peers) who may have heard negative news reports. Rest assured: There is little risk of AIDS or TB being transmitted in the salon.
Nonetheless, there are numerous other diseases - including common flu and cold viruses - that you can drastically reduce the spread of in your salon just by hand-washing and disinfecting work surfaces and implements.
The American Public Health Association’s handbook on communicable diseases lists several hundred human diseases, how they can be controlled. Nearly 40 of these diseases are relevant to a salon from a public health standpoint. These diseases are largely spread from person to person through feces; skin, nasal, or throat secretions; or urine, either by contaminated hands or soiled objects. You can minimize your risk of contracting or spreading any communicable diseases by following simple sanitation measures. I recommend following these guidelines for good personal hygiene in the salon.
- Wash your hands with soap and water after using the restroom, and always before and after working on a client.
- Keep hands and soiled objects away from your mouth, eyes, nose, ears, and wounds.
- Don’t use items that have been used by others, such as a community spoon next to the salon coffee pot, towels, handkerchiefs, and hairbrushes.
- Avoid getting in the breathing zone of others (the two-cubic-foot area around their face).
Your implements-from cuticle pushers to nippers to files-have the same intimate contact with your clients that you do. Just as you need to wash your hands between clients, you need to clean and disinfect your implements, as well. First, wash your nippers and other non-disposable implements with soap and water to remove oil and debris; then disinfect them according to your state board regulations. Keep a spare set of disinfected implements ready so that you’re never caught in a bind and tempted to skip disinfecting “just this once.”
Your disposable implements-non-sanitizable files, wood cuticle pushers, etc.-should be disposed of in a sealed trash container (consult your state board regulations for exactly what’s required in your state). General salon sanitation and disinfection require a little more effort. The following tasks should be routinely done in your salon:
- Wash and disinfect the walls and floors throughout the salon regularly.
- Clean workstations and work areas between each client.
- Mop floors and vacuum carpets daily.
- Put trash in covered containers that are emptied regularly throughout the day.
- Control insects and rodents as required.
- Use a fresh towel for each client.
Technicians should be required to clean their work area between clients, and I recommend you consider using a janitorial service to clean the salon regularly, or at least to supplement your routine cleaning efforts.
The importance of sanitation cannot be overstated: Your personal safety, your clients’ safety, and your salon’s reputation are your responsibility. Nothing can ruin a business faster than a “dirty” reputation. Good sanitation practices also protect your investment in your salon. Quite simply, things last longer when they are kept clean. Cutting tools will remain sharp longer, and floors, furnishings, and fittings will retain their original finish longer if they are cleaned every day.