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How to sterilize tattoo equipment without autoclave

Updated April 17, 2017

In order to prevent the spread of disease and infection, tattoo equipment is sterilised before and after each time it is used. The most reliable and trusted means of doing this is to place the tattoo equipment into an autoclave, a device that produces extreme levels of pressure and heat to destroy contaminates. Autoclaves can be very expensive, however, and are sometimes not the best option for an independent tattoo artist. Fortunately, there are chemicals that can be purchased for a fraction of an autoclave's cost that will thoroughly sterilise your tattoo equipment.

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  1. Purchase a chemical germicide that is recommended for use with tattoo equipment and is known to destroy bacteria and viruses that cause infections in humans. See Resources for links to some such germicides.

  2. Submerge your tattoo equipment completely in a glass container filled with the chemical germicide.

  3. Allow the tattoo equipment to sit in the chemical bath for the amount of time recommended by the germicide's instructions. The time required for sterilisation to be achieved will depend on the particular brand of chemical germicide you purchased. Make sure to read the instructions carefully, and be sure to wear protective gloves and goggles when handling potentially dangerous chemicals.

  4. Remove the tattoo equipment of the chemical bath after the designated amount of time has passed. Make sure to remove the equipment using sterile latex gloves, so that you do not recontaminate them. Now your tattoo equipment is sterile and ready to be safely used on your next willing customer.

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Things You'll Need

  • Chemical germicide
  • Tattoo equipment

About the Author

Evan Fulford has a master's degree in social work from the University of Michigan. He graduated with his bachelor's degree in psychology from Wayne State University in 2008. He has been writing academically for over six years on topics including mental illness, social policy, linguistics and political science.

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