How to Sterilize Homemade Tattoo Equipment

Written by lisa maire
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How to Sterilize Homemade Tattoo Equipment
Sterilisation is even more important for artists who create their own tools. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Keeping tattoo equipment clean and sterile is important for any tattoo artist as it prevents the transmission of infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis and MRSA. This is even more important for individuals who have created homemade tattoo equipment. Homemade tattoo equipment may not be made of the same high-quality materials as purchased equipment and therefore may need more care and maintenance to keep the equipment clean, sterile and safe. Sterilising homemade tattoo equipment is actually quite easy with the proper cleaning tools and a dedication to constantly cleaning and sterilising the equipment before use.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Plastic gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Disinfecting soap
  • Clean rag
  • Tip brush
  • Ultrasonic cleaner
  • Autoclave
  • Germicide

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  1. 1

    Put on gloves and safety glasses prior to handling any equipment. This is especially important if the equipment is already contaminated with other people's blood. Do not handle blood-covered items if you have any open cuts on your skin.

  2. 2

    Scrub your equipment --- including the tips and grips of needles and any tubes or other equipment your have made --- with cool, soapy water. Scrub all of your tools with a tip-cleaner brush to remove any excess dried ink or blood. Do not use hot water; it can make ink more difficult to remove. Scrub everything twice.

  3. 3

    Purchase an ultrasonic cleaner and place your tools inside. Although it doesn't sterilise the items, it will maximise the removal of germs and residual ink on your tools.

  4. 4

    Sterilise and store your homemade equipment in an autoclave.

  5. 5

    Clean any homemade tattoo equipment that touches the skin with a chemical germicide directly before use. Use a germicide recommended for tattoo equipment to destroy any leftover bacteria or viruses.

Tips and warnings

  • Keep all autoclaved equipment and needles in their sealed containers until just before use. Doing otherwise means the equipment is not sterile.
  • Autoclaves can be costly, but they are essential for keeping your tools completely sterile. Your tools can be stored in an autoclave for an extended period of time and will remain sterile before use.
  • Germicides come in wipes or a solution into which you can dip your homemade tattoo equipment.
  • Although the autoclave will have sterilised your equipment, if anything went wrong with the autoclave, your items may not be completely sterile.

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