Simone Gilbert of Urban Bliss Beauty in Ferntree Gully, Victoria, Australia, is sure to start with the decor in her salon.

Simone Gilbert of Urban Bliss Beauty in Ferntree Gully, Victoria, Australia, is sure to start with the decor in her salon.

Spring is a time for renewal and rebirth. It’s also a great opportunity to assess the situation at your salon and do a serious and thorough spring cleaning. Cleaning your space from top to bottom will leave you feeling refreshed and ready for another year of salon success.

How you tackle your salon’s cleaning is entirely up to you. Whether you close down your salon and bring in your whole staff, hire a cleaning crew, or go in early to get it done before attending to clients is something you’ll have to decide based on your salon’s needs.

According to several techs and owners, winter is actually a good time for your annual cleaning — particularly January. Elizabeth Morris, owner of Va-Va Varnish Salon in San Diego, utilizes the winter month since most clients’ pocketbooks are lighter after the holidays. She also likes to use January as a month to firm up any salon plans for the upcoming year. She puts on music, starts with the supply closet since it’s the biggest job, and knocks it out in a few early mornings before the salon opens.

Nail tech Victoria Zegarelli of Nail Bar Lounge in Hauppauge, N.Y., says she is responsible for cleaning her nail area herself and does a deep clean while her boss is doing any repairs to the salon.

Rather than waiting on a big yearly clean, Lauren Wireman of Wildflowers in Cape Coral, Fla., pays for a weekly cleaning of her studio that she shares with two other techs, with the emphasis on common areas and her studio. And Maisie Dunbar of Spa Lounge in Silver Spring Md., opts for a biannual deep cleaning where she gets the salon repainted and moves her retail display and her framed magazine covers around.

Simone Gilbert of Urban Bliss Beauty in Ferntree Gully, Victoria, Australia, is sure to start with the decor in her salon, including her signature chandelier, before individually dusting and wiping down each of the 1,200+ glitters, charms, and Swarovski crystal jars as well as the salon’s huge polish and foil collection.

Mia Rubie of Sparkle San Francisco in San Francisco tries to treat the cleaning as a team project so everyone gets a say in the appearance of the shop. She focuses her attention on de-cluttering polishes and other products as well as cleaning.

There are several options for products you no longer want or need. Donations or gifts can be taken to donation centers, women’s shelters, your local nail schools, or can be swapped with other salon owners. Remember, too, that you could repurpose items such as old table towels into dusting cloths, unused tips can be used to display nail art, etc. Danalynn Stockwood of Fun Fancy Nails in Fitchburg, Mass., likes to place polishes she wants to get rid of on sale at reception for $1-$2 apiece. She says clients love to buy the deeply discounted colors.

On the flip side, Wireman saves nail products she wants to get rid of because she often encounters new techs who are in need of a product. She refers to them as her “nail junk buckets” and lets anyone who is learning go through them.

Start with the Manicure Stations

First, take everything off the counters. Clean off the dust from your lamp and workstation. Wash your bottles and condense them. Before you haphazardly replace items back where they were, take care with where and how you place things. Do you use everything that’s currently on top of or in each station? Make certain you only have the essentials such as cuticle oil, lotion, polish remover, cuticle softener, etc., within arm’s reach. Anything else that is used infrequently or not at all can be stored somewhere else or thrown out. Imagine how your station looks from your client’s perspective. Is it full of products? The fewer items out on the workstations, the more enticing it will look for them.

Next, take everything out of the drawers and wipe down the insides. Stray clippings and nail dust likely have found their way in. This can turn into a sanitation issue so be thorough. Wash any containers and organizers you keep in your drawers too. Clean out your sanitation container. Hopefully you are doing this more often than once a year, but this is a good opportunity to start the new year fresh. Make sure there is no debris floating in the sanitizer and that it isn’t cloudy.

Now you’re ready for the final touches. Replace items in a logical and organized way that makes it easy for you to find things again. If you have any paperwork at your station, put it where it’s supposed to go. Tidy up your personal items (and use this chance to update any old photos!), and wipe down neglected areas of your station such as the sides and the trash can.

Deep Clean the Rest of the Salon

Chances are you haven’t gotten those hard-to-reach areas in a while and they could use some attention. While you’re at it, wipe down any often-used but perhaps neglected implements, and evaluate your normal cleaning schedule to ensure things like your pedicure stations are being cleaned as well and as often as they should be.

Pedicure Area: Pedicure stations and implements should be cleaned regularly (if you need guidance about your pedicure station cleaning schedule, revisit our Sanitation Checklist). But take this opportunity to clean out all hot towel cabinets, wash off bulk products, clean pedicure baskets and paraffin machines. Also, it’s recommended you move the stations aside to clean any nail dust or water build-up that has been neglected. Take notice of the wear and tear of the chair itself. An annual assessment to make sure there aren’t stains or tears is perfect for this time of year.  

Retail Area: Pull all products off the shelves and give every nook and cranny a thorough cleaning, disinfecting, and vacuuming. Make sure you scrub your display cases and racks clean. If they are broken or damaged, consider buying new ones. This could be a good time to evaluate your retail items, take stock of what is selling and not selling, and update your inventory. Or, if everything is selling, you could move items around for an updated look.

> Pro Tip: Organizing expert Sara Barba of XOXOrganizing weighs in with some advice about how to keep your salon well organized all year long. As you’re replacing your items, don’t put them all out at once. You want it to look boutique-y and special. Three is a good number — it doesn’t look like you’re running out and doesn’t look like the space is overflowing. And make sure to space things out in a way that makes it easy to browse without having to touch.

Reception: Remove everything from the desk and inside the cabinets. Wipe all your surfaces down. Make sure every document has a proper place, your files are secure, and the counters are tidy. Clean out any debris from your keyboard and wipe down your computer — electronics can attract dust. Make sure to pay attention to dust that can gather around cords and crumbs that can get into your keyboard. Consider going paperless and dedicating some time to scanning and organizing your documents and files and recycling the papers you just digitized.

> Pro Tip: Catalog receipts as soon as you can rather than at the end of the month or year. That way you’ll remember what the purchases were for when it’s time to reconcile. Also make sure the reception desk is clear of clutter, broken pieces, or machines. Reception is where the magic happens, Barba says.

Bathroom: Confirm that your normal cleaning schedule is up-to-date and happening regularly. Clean some of those neglected areas like the plumbing, the pipes under the sink, and any tile grout. Make sure your stock of bathroom supplies is full. There should be air freshener, enough toilet paper, and a working soap dispenser. Make sure to clean the mirror regularly and wipe down soap that drips onto the sink. Try to view it with fresh eyes — how a customer would see it. You’ll probably notice more than you would as someone who sees it every day.

Storage/Supply Closet: This is a big job and can get disorganized quickly. As you go, remember to sort items into four categories: Keep, discard, donate, and sell. The things you’ll keep such as products and linens can go back on the shelves. Your discards such as expired products should be properly disposed of. (See March 2015 “What To Keep, What To Toss: A Survey of Your Product Inventory” for proper disposal of hazardous waste.) Once everything is off your shelves, give them a good scrub. As you replace your items, remember to be strategic.

> Pro Tip: Put like items with like items but never put items that aren’t the same in the same box. Everything should have its own place. And don’t rely on a junk drawer because that will ultimately make it harder for techs to find what they are looking for. Salon space is limited so you must be wary of what you’re purchasing and storing.

Walls/Windows/Art: This might be a good time to repaint the interior of your salon while you have everything moved around. It’s also good to get in those hard to reach places like tall ceilings and tops of frames because dust and cobwebs can gather quickly and are terribly unsightly. And unless your art has become a trademark for your salon, you could also consider updating any decor. Make sure to wash the windows regularly so customers can see your interior from the street.

> Pro Tip: Don’t neglect your decorations. This includes plants (fake and real), broken frames, or pots. Take pride in the way you look and replace anything that needs replacing right away.

Floors: Are your carpets getting threadbare? Or is your hardwood scuffed up? If it’s in your budget, reassessing your salon’s flooring could be a nice upgrade. If not, a thorough shampooing or steam clean could be the trick to breathe some life into well-worn floors. Or perhaps you just need to add replacement rugs to give the salon a refreshed feel if yours are looking a little tired.

Exterior: Check to make sure your exterior paint is intact. If not, it might be time to update that as well. You can hire someone to power wash your walls and clean your gutters if that hasn’t happened in a little while. Also take stock of your signage — assess to make sure it doesn’t look faded or worn down and update it if it does. Finally, if you have a lawn or garden area, make sure it is getting tended to regularly and that you don’t have any wilted, dead, or overgrown plants.  

> Pro Tip: Be conscious of spider webs. Nobody wants to go into a place that looks unused or unmaintained


Whether you do your spring cleaning in the spring or winter, make sure you have a plan to tackle your salon’s cleaning efficiently and quickly. Here are some tips to help you get started:

> Make specific piles of things that are either worth keeping, could be donated, or should be tossed.

> Separate opened and unopened items from each other.

> Use it or lose it. If you haven’t touched the container in months, move it along.

> Check expiration dates. If you think you’ll use an item before it expires, keep it. If not, get rid of it.

> Consider making a running list of expiration dates. Rotate products and use the older items first. Stock newer products on the back of the shelf.

> Go green — recycle, repurpose, reuse whenever possible.

> Organize logically — place like things together.

> Label it. A small sticker with purchase date and vendor ensures freshness.

> As you sort through your products, make sure to close all lids tightly and store everything in a cool dry place away from sunlight. This will extend the life of your products.

Assess Your Menu

When was the last time you went through and evaluated your list of services? Are there items that haven’t been very popular for a while? Or is there anything customers have requested that you haven’t offered before? While you’re sorting through what to keep and what to discard, maybe it’s time to decide which services are no longer bringing in the big bucks, or what chould become a new seasonal service.


Organizing expert Sara Barba of XOXOrganizing gives tips for best practices to do year-round to keep your salon in tip top shape:

> Always make sure whatever you’re using and keeping at your station is related to work — keep polishes with the polishes, keep bathroom supplies in the bathroom, keep pedicure supplies with pedicure stations. 

> Make sure to store a pint of your wall paint for touch ups after scuffs and dirt. The longer you wait to touch up, the easier it is to ignore. It’ll save you time and the cost of doing a full repaint job in the future.

> Do a quick spray down of mirrors daily to clean any fingerprints and handprints.
> Wipe any polish residue off bottles.

> Keep no more than a week’s supply of products at a station and refill weekly. If you have too many, it becomes a storage drawer.

> Occasionally have techs sit in client chairs to see how it looks from the client’s perspective. Make any necessary adjustments and clean anything you might have missed.

We asked nail techs: What’s your favorite cleaning product?

“I use alcohol to clean just about everything. It makes everything squeaky clean.”
— Victoria Zegarelli, Nail Bar Lounge, Hauppauge, N.Y.

“Bleach and Windex! I love when our place smells clean and bleach and Windex to me just makes everything smell fresh and indicates to clients we have deep cleaned.”
— Elizabeth Morris, Va-Va Varnish Salon, San Diego

“I love using Clorox wipes!”
— Danalynn Stockwood, Fun Fancy Nails, Fitchburg, Mass.

“I use alcohol to remove any stubborn marks on the tiled flooring before mopping down the floors.”
— Simone Gilbert, Urban Bliss Beauty, Ferntree Gully, Victoria, Australia

"Clorox, Lysol, Simple Green, and OPI Spa Cleaner.”
— Maisie Dunbar, Spa Lounge, Silver Spring, Md.

“I love Mrs. Meyers Basil cleaning spray. It smells so good. For sticky stuff like gel, which clings to surfaces, I’ve found that using Goo Gone does the trick.”
— Mia Rubie, Sparkle San Francisco, San Francisco

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