Salon Sanitation

Disinfectant Products: Crack Down on Grime

What if you received a dollar every time you heard the words fungus and nail salon in the same sentence? It’s an unfortunate association but one that’s grounded in reality. When the same tools are used day-in and day-out to scrape calluses and clean beneath the nail surface, bacteria will get cozy unless proper disinfection takes place.

Disinfection is the second of three levels of decontamination. When you disinfect an implement, you’re effectively destroying microorganisms on its surface, killing most disease-causing pathogens (so long as the implement was pre-cleaned). But how do you know if a disinfectant is suitable for professional salons?

Standards vary from country to country, but in the U.S., EPA-registered hospital-grade disinfectants with bactericidal, fungicidal, and virucidal claims on the label are most commonly accepted for use in salons. EPA approval isn’t easy — in some cases, manufacturers must show testing results for each microbe they claim to kill.

The most important components of disinfection are following state board guidelines as well as a product’s required contact time. The photo gallery above showcases a collection of disinfectant products on today’s market that can help your salon go above and beyond.


The Three Levels of Decontamination

Sanitation: the killing or significant reduction of the number of disease-causing microorganisms to levels that are considered safe by public health standards; sanitation is the lowest of three levels of decontamination.

Disinfection: the middle level of decontamination; destroys microorganisms on non-living surfaces; kills most disease-causing pathogens on pre-cleaned surfaces.

Sterilization: a multi-step process that achieves the complete destruction of all living organisms on an object or surface; sterilization is the highest of three levels of decontamination.


Proper Implement Disinfection Protocol

1. Clean the implement with soap (or detergent) and water. Remove all visible residue from the surface, then rinse thoroughly with clean water.

2. Immerse the implement completely in an EPA-registered disinfectant with demonstrated bactericidal, fungicidal, and virucidal activity, using the product according to the manufacturers’ instructions. In general, EPA-registered disinfectants require a 10-minute immersion.

3. Allow implement to air-dry completely after disinfection.

4. Store disinfected implements in a clean, covered place and label them as such.

5. Cover the disinfectant at all times, label it, and prepare it fresh daily. Replace immediately if the solution becomes visibly contaminated.

Editor’s note: These recommendations were released by the Nail Manufacturers Council. Nail technicians and salon owners should still refer to their state board regulations and follow state requirements if there is any conflict.


Tips From the International Pedicure Association

  • An appropriate disinfectant solution will provide an intermediate to high level of disinfection.
  • The disinfectant should indicate that it’s bactericidal, virucidal, and fungicidal.
  • It’s critical to understand and follow the disinfectant manufacturer’s recommended procedure.
  • Cleaning and disinfection policies should be printed and posted in the salon to refresh staff.
  • Give staff members routine training on expected cleaning duties.


Still Curious? Visit and to ramp up your salon safety practices.

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