Sterilizing Pedicure Tools and Manicure Tools

Why is sterilizing pedicure tools and manicure tools important? Why are safe procedures necessary?

With the spread of things such as MRSA, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, HIV, and H1N1, sterilizing implements used on more than one person is more important than ever.

First, it's important to understand the difference between the words cleaning or sanitizing, disinfecting, and sterilizing.

Cleaning or sanitizing tools simply means scrubbing them with warm water and soap after use on a client.

Another option is to disinfect the manicure and pedicure tools. Most state-approved disinfectants require completely immersing implements for at least 10 minutes. Proper disinfection requires at least three things:

  • properly mixing the disinfectant solution,
  • cleaning and rinsing the tools before immersing them in the disinfectant solution, so they do not contaminate the solution, and
  • changing the disinfectant solution regularly as directed.

However, even this disinfection process will not kill bacterial spores. These spores will live indefinitely until they meet the ideal conditions to grow. Once the spores find a dark, warm, moist, dirty place to grow, they will thrive.

The only way disinfectant solutions can kill the spores is IF the procedures described above are all met and the implements are left completely submerged for 24 hours. This disinfection process is not practical in a salon setting.

An autoclave can sterilize implements in as little as 16 minutes.

Jennifer Klinkel of At Your Feet is committed to the use of the autoclave.

Foot Baths

Whirlpool pedicure baths also require disinfection using the procedures described above. However, have you ever had a dirty pan and soaked it in bleach to clean it? If you simply soak it and don't scrub it, it will not be clean.

To thoroughly clean a whirlpool bath requires scrubbing the inner workings. If not, bacterial spores may still linger. These spores can find their way into a person's body through any small break in the skin. Feet are a prime place for spores to enter the body because the feet sweat, are warm, are enclosed in shoes, and are perhaps a little dirty. You may not see small breaks in the skin with naked eye, but, in particular, recently shaven legs have these small breaks.

For this reason, At Your Feet does not use a whirlpool pedicure bath but uses a footbath that has disposable liners. The liners may be scrubbed and disinfected or disposed of completely.

In Dr. Spalding's book The Science of Pedicures, he describes at least three cases where women with suppressed immune systems died as a result of sloppy, irresponsible pedicure services where whirlpools or implements were not cleaned, disinfected, or sterilized. For this reason, I enrolled in Dr. Spalding's Advanced Nail Technician course and learned about safe procedures, then became certified in the use of these procedures. Additionally, Dr. Spalding offers a Medical Nail Technician Course and I am currently enrolled in this course.

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