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Sterilizing Manicuring Implements Utilizing An Autoclave

Q. I am in the process of opening a nail salon where the only services provided will be natural nail services (manicures and pedicures) with the exception of removal of acrylic or artificial nail products. The Arizona State Board of Cosmetology requires that I sanitize my implements as opposed to sterilizing them. The Board requires that "All implements that come in contact with blood or body fluids shall be disinfected before continued service by complete immersion in an Environmental Protection Agency registered, hospital grade, and tuberculocidal disinfectant that is mixed and used according to the manufacturer's directions."

The implements that I use specifically are, Mehaz cuticle nippers, Tweezerman "Pushy" cuticle pusher, and stainless steel nail clippers both large and small size and both curved and straight edged. I know that Mehaz is a very reputable German company and their implements are considered to be the finest available to manicurists. Tweezerman is also a very reputable manufacturer of manicuring implements. I do not really know beans about Autoclaves, but I just got the idea when I was at the dentist that my implements seems very similar and perhaps since there has been a real sanitization scare with the existence of diseases such as Aids that has effected the manicuring industry significantly. The art of manicuring as I feel that it is, is sort of being lost or taken over by shops that are often referred to as "sweat shops" where there is a language barrier, the manicurists say little, work extremely fast, complete services in an unusually short amount of time, and the cost of their services is significantly less than the "good old-fashioned" manicurist's services entail.

"Principles and Methods of Sterilization in Health Sciences"

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I have seen a number of articles and stories on the news about health concerns with these "sweat shop" type nail salons. The State Board of Cosmetology has uncovered a shocking number of sanitation violation with these shops. I want my salon and the services that I offer to be the complete opposite of what the public is beginning to see the manicuring industry as. My question or questions are basically, which type of Autoclave do I need to safely sterilize instead of merely sanitize my manicuring implements. Can the implements that I use withstand the effect of an autoclave or would heat-sterilizing manicuring implements damage the implements? I am by law required to submerge them in a hospital grade tuberculocidal disinfectant for a period of then minutes. If I chose to take things a step further and sterilize instead of sanitize my manicuring implements, do you think that my implements could stand the sterilization process? I know that there are many different types of autoclaves. Which particular ones would fit my needs? It is possible to view the exact implements I am referring to by visiting the Mehaz web site and the Tweezerman web site. There it will tell you exactly what the implements are made of which would probably be necessary for you to know in order to address my question. I hope you can help. I look forward to hearing back from you. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Ruth Wilson
- Phoenix, Arizona, USA

A. If you want to autoclave your tools they should be made of stainless steel and not have any plastic or rubber handles. A small table top unit is probably all you will need. They range from about $800 and up new but you should be able to get a good used one for half of that. You might also want to use a product called barrier milk it is a presoak and rust inhibitor that will help protect your tools. Look in your phone book for a used medical supply house. Or if there is a highly reputable tattoo or body piercing shop in your area they may be willing to help you find an autoclave that will suit your needs and show you how to use it properly.

Matthew Carrel
- Indianapolis, Indiana

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