Salon Sanitation

Off to a Clean Start

Keeping your salon clean is one of the most important things you can do to safeguard yourself and your clients’ health. Before you start working on your client’s nails, take a look around your salon to make sure it’s as clean as it can be.

Imagine if you walked into a dentist’s office and saw ripped chairs, magazines strewn about, and trash on the floor. Chances are that teeth cleaning appointment you were scheduled for world be your last-if you even decided to stay.

Just as a clean dentist’s office a big deal with patients, the same holds true for your salon. It’s true that quality nail service matters, but all that hard work you put into doing a good set of pink-and-whites won’t make a difference if your salon isn’t up to par in the cleanliness department.

In order for clients to receive the best service possible, you have to make sure your salon looks just as good as those nails. Walking into a clean, fresh-smelling environment is as important to you as it is to your clients.

We talked to several nail technicians and salon owners about their cleaning rituals. Use the following pictorial guide to aid you in your cleaning routine. Keep in mind that each salon is different, so one nail tech’s cleaning methods might not work for another one. Also, make sure you’re up to date with your state board’s cleaning and sanitation requirements.

Then, get cleaning!

Polish racks

  • Clean regularly to avoid dust build up.
  • Use a cloth or duster to remove dust.
  • Also, remove any dry polish from bottles.

Pedicure throne

  • State board regulations may vary from state to state, but pedicure thrones with whirlpool footbaths should generally be cleansed with soap or detergent and rinsed with clean water, then disinfected with an EPA-registered disinfectant after each service.
  • The California State Board of Barbering Cosmetology has guidelines for cleaning after each service, at the end of the day, and every other week (see “Footspa Cleaning Guidelines for Nail Technicians,” August 2002, or on the web at under Handouts, for more information).
  • Also, don’t forget about the chair itself. Wipe down frequently to avoid dust and grime from collecting on it.

Manicure table, trash, and floor

  • Clean manicure stations with a disinfectant after each service.
  • Lay out clean towels for each client.
  • Implements that cannot be reused should be discarded. Implements that can be used reused, such as cuticle nippers, should be disinfected according to you state board’s regulations.
  • If you have a disinfectant solution at your station, replace it at least once a week, more often if the solution visibly cloudy or dirty.
  • Other items on your table, such as a lamp or telephone, can be wiped down with antibacterial wipes throughout the day. Michelle Ramoz, owner of Be Polished to Protection in Lakeside, Ariz, goes ones step further and uses an antibacterial spray on her client chair’s armrests.
  • Trash should be emptied as often as needed throughout the day, but definitely empty at the end of each day. Make sure you place a fresh bag each day.
  • Floors should be swept as often as needed throughout the day. In addition, they should be mopped at least once a week, more often if there is constant foot traffic bringing in dirt and debris.

Retail displays

  • Dust off regularly with a soft cloth. There’s nothing worse than a client picking up a dusty product that you are trying to sell. A weekly dusting should be sufficient, although some salons like to dust off their displays every day.

Reception, waiting area, and carpet

  • The reception area should be neat and free of clutter, as well as dust-free, since it’s usually the first thing clients see when they walk into a salon.
  • Straighten any loose papers and items throughout and wipe the desk area with a soft cloth.
  • Some nail techs even like to spray phones and tabletops with disinfectant for extra measure.
  • Dust any furniture at least once a week and rearrange magazines, menus, brochures, etc. often. Don’t keep old, outdated magazines piled up. Have current issues available for clients to read.
  • Sweep or vacuum carpets as many times as needed throughout the day. Areas with higher foot traffic may need to be swept or vacuumed more often. Definitely give carpets a good sweeping or vacuuming at the end or start of each day.

Bathroom and sink

  • As with any business, it’s essential to keep the bathroom sparkling clean.
  • Make sure you have no supplies such as mops or brooms in the bathroom. They should be stored in a separate storage area.
  • At least once a week make sure you deep clean the bathroom by cleaning the sink and toilet and mopping the floor with a bleach or disinfectant solution.
  • Some salon owners wiped down the sink and toilet after each client, others at the end of each day. “I hate a dirty, wet sink and mirror,” says Mary Metscaviz, owner of Awesomes Nails in Grayslake, Ill. “That chrome has to sparkle

Windows, walls, and fixtures

  • Many people tend to forget about these areas of the salon, but they’re just as important as anything else. Whether you hire a window cleaning service or do it yourself, make sure those windows are sparkling clean. Deborah Reeves, owner of Nailz Hand & Foot Spa in Cashiers, N.C., hires window cleaner to come in once a month.
  • Walls and fixtures such as lanterns and clocks should also be checked often for streaks, smudges, and dust.

Inspect Yourself

Conducting occasional self-inspections will not only help you remain compliance with your state board’s rules and regulations, it’ll also ensure that your clients will be coming to salon that offers the best service and atmosphere and is as clean as can be. The following is a condensed guideline offered by the California State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology in regards to sanitation and health and safety. All questions should be answered yes. Keep in mind that each state board has different rules and regulations, so check with your state board if you have any questions regarding sanitation or health and safety issues.

Are clean instruments stored separately from soiled instruments? Are the soiled instruments stored

in a receptacle labeled “soiled” or other such designation?

Do the instruments look clean? Are they stored in a covered receptacle labeled “clean” or other such designation?

Are the floors, walls, ceilings, furniture, furnishings, and fixtures clean and in good repair?

Is there a public toilet room? Is it clean?

Are sanitary towels provided for hand drying? “Community” towels are not permitted.

Is the toilet room clear of all storage? There can be no storage of supplies, mops, buckets, etc. in the toilet room.

Is all waste disposed of promptly so there is no accumulation?

Are all employees and their attire clean?

Do all employees wash their hands before servicing each client?


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