Barbers – Are Your Tools Sanitary?

The Guide for Safe, Clean Tools all Barbers Need

As a barber, it’s your job – no, your responsibility – to provide people with fresh cuts, fades, and styles they’ll be proud to walk out of your shop wearing.

You’re indebted to the customers to provide a great, satisfactory, and enjoyable service.
But your responsibility to your clients doesn’t just stop at aesthetics and experience – it, without a doubt, includes safety.

We don’t mean safety in the ‘don’t go all Sweeney Todd on your clients’ way, we simply mean that you have an obligation to provide a safe, clean, and sanitary experience for your customers.

If you’re licensed, you likely know the drill on this, but if you’re working toward your barbering license or simply need a brush up on the requirements, then this is the article for you. Whether you’re a novice or a professional, it never hurts to check in on safety regulations, tips and tricks, or barber tool sanitation advice, especially if it means providing a safer, cleaner experience for your client base.

Sanitizing Versus Sterilizing Versus Disinfection – That’s Right, They’re Different

If you didn’t know the difference between the three, now’s the time to learn. Understanding the differences among these could help you up the cleanliness and safety of the tools you’re using.

Typically, metal instruments are sterilized with dry or steam heat. Other instruments that are reusable (like brushes, combs, clips, and more) are sanitized in a special solution that chemically kills off the germs and contaminants.

Sterilization is a process for removing or destroying all living organisms and biological agents from an object (usually with heat or chemicals), whereas sanitizing will clean and remove oil and dirt from an object.

Disinfecting is an application of anti-microbial agents that will clean and disinfect, but not necessarily remove all of the living organisms from an object. Disinfection, one of the most accurate terms for the barbering industry, has the goal in mind to remove as much fungi, viruses, yeast, and bacteria as possible between clients.  This also is accomplished using heat and chemicals for metal, plastic, and other tool materials.

Always Employ the Single-Use Rule Where You Can

While there are some tools you simply can’t use and throw away (I mean, unless you’re rolling in dough and can buy a new pair of shears for every client), you should try to employ the single-use rule wherever you’re able to do so.

We don’t mean buy a ton of clippers and throw them out after every use, we simply mean that you should buy disposable necks trips to act as a germ barrier, or disposable towels and wipes instead of using the same towels (that you wash every day).

By purchasing single-use items, you might feel like you’re throwing away money. Instead, look at it as an investment in your client’s experience and safety. Be wise about which single-use tools you purchase.

Some Barber Tool-Specific Tips

  • Razors

You will need to disinfect and sanitize your razor after every single-use.

Cleaning and disinfecting a razor, especially a straight razor, can be difficult because you want to avoid getting the scales or handle of your razor wet. Clean your blade carefully – don’t cut yourself—with an approved sanitizing agent. For best results, try to avoid as much as moisture as possible, add oil to your cleaning regimen, and strop your blade whenever you can.

  • Shears

Shears, like razors, must be disinfected and sterilized after every single-use.

 Using an approved chemical cleaner, rub a cotton ball to remove styling residue and other debris. You can also clean and oil them at the end of every day to maintain their quality. Then, drop your shears for an approved amount of time into an approved sanitizing agent.

  • Brushes and Combs

These need to be sanitized and disinfected between every single-use.

Brushes with long bristles need to have the hair and debris cleaned from them with cleaning brushes and a cleansing cream to disinfect. Store in a dry sanitation container until next use. Combs can be used in liquid sanitizer and should be inserted after every use. Check the product specifications for a time limit.

  • Clippers

You’ll need to clean and disinfect your clippers before every single-use as well.

Remove all the debris from your clippers, disassemble your clippers, and use an approved liquid disinfectant to wipe down the blades, teeth, and accessories of the clippers. Then, drop all of the pieces into a container of disinfectant to soak. Be careful not to submerge any electrical components of your clippers!

Government Sanctioned Rules You Need to Know

As you know, there are government-sanctioned rules for sanitation when you’re a licensed barber that you absolutely have to abide by. From workspace rules to tool cleanliness, there are certain things you, by law, are not allowed to skimp on.

Some of the highlights?

You need wet sterilizers and dry sterilizers. Your brushes need to be sterilized after single customer use. You need to meet the chemical and heat standards for sterilization purposes. Every tool you use needs to be disinfected before used on a patron. Etc., etc., etc.

But that’s not all. Click here for the government’s general rules on barber sanitation.

If you’ve never read them, now’s the time, and if you have but need an update, this is the perfect opportunity to do so.

Take note that there are specific regulations that for each state, too, so you’ll want to become overly-familiar with the regulations and rules your state has in place! Don’t let this fall to the wayside, your business, and your customers’ health and wellness, depend on how well you’re caring for your tools and your workspace. 

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