Salon Sanitation

Never Be Fined Again

Just one citation from your state board could have you floundering for cash (and turning red in the face from the humiliation of signing the violation form). NAILS contacted the U.S. states with the largest numbers of nail salons to find out what the most common violations are — and how you can make sure your salon is in the clear.

Common Violation: Employing an unlicensed individual
The Fix: You may be thinking that the only salons that get cited for this violation are willfully and purposely breaking the law. However, when was the last time you checked everyone’s licenses in your salon to confirm they haven’t expired? An expired license can easily get your salon fined too.
We’ve also heard from salon owners who inadvertently broke this law simply by not asking a prospective new tech to bring her license to her job interview, then later (after employment started), the hire revealed she didn’t have one. There are self-taught nail artists out there who create salon-quality nails but never went through a recognized nail program and don’t have a license. If you want to hire someone in this category, you may want to invest in this person’s schooling or offer this person an apprenticeship at your salon (if legal in your state) to help her get her license before she works for you.

<p>Photo courtesy of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation</p>

Common Violation: Dirt or debris build up throughout the salon and other indications the salon isn’t clean and in good repair
The Fix: Some of the cleanliness violations inspectors see are so egregious that it’s a wonder these salons have any clients left. If this describes your salon, or if your salon is guilty of more “minor” violations like a stray hair in the disinfectant solution or a trash can that is too full and starting to overflow, it’s not too late for you. Consider hiring a cleaning crew to handle some of the general cleaning duties — such as taking the trash to the dumpster or washing towels — a few hours a week. Added bonus: Clients will appreciate your increased upkeep.

<p>Photo courtesy of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation</p>

Common Violation: Failure to fully clean foot baths
The Fix: Though this falls under the salon being in disrepair, foot baths merit their own mention on this list. Many state boards include unclean foot baths as a separate violation and fine, above and beyond the fine for not keeping the salon clean. One common area nail techs miss is behind the removable parts, such as behind screens and impellers. As you can see in this photo, this area can get very, very dirty.
Also, many states require logging every pedicure spa cleaning, and a separate violation and fine may be levied for not writing down your cleanings. You can easily create your own log or print out a ready-made one from

Common Violation: Multi-use implements and tools not properly cleaned and disinfected prior to use on a client
The Fix: There are two kinds of tools commonly used in nail salons: non-porous (made of hard materials like metal, plastic, or glass) and porous (items of absorbent materials like cloth or wood). Non-porous items are generally multi-use, but in between uses you must both clean and disinfect them. To clean, wash with soap and water to remove all visible debris. To disinfect, immerse the cleaned item for 10 minutes in a state board-approved disinfectant. Always keep the disinfectant solution covered to prevent contamination, and change disinfectant at least once per week or when it is visibly cloudy or dirty. If you find yourself running out of implements before you can disinfect the dirty ones or you don’t have a spare if you drop one on the floor, it’s time to go implement shopping.

Common Violation: Re-using one-use items, like nail files
The Fix: So what about those porous items, like nail files, manicure sticks, wax sticks, cotton, paper towels, and buffer blocks? Because there’s no known way to fully clean and disinfect those, you’ve got to trash them (preferably in a covered bin). Do this immediately before you get them confused with your clean ones. Is throwing them away costing too much money? Try cutting the files and buffers in half or in smaller pieces (before use), then you only have to throw away the part you used. Or buddy up with a neighboring salon to get bulk discounts on these products from your supplier.

Next page: 5 more common violations and how to fix them

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