Clean Practices for Tattooing

by: Jesse Fowler

In my set-up, I use a modified method with the valued input from old-timers and modern medical information sources and methods.  Here I will walk through the process I use in order to prevent cross-contamination during the procedure itself.

  1. I use a diluted Tincure of Green Soap in a laboratory wash bottle to cleanse the skin.  I do not use spray bottles, as the force of the spray might also disperse the blood or bacteria on the skin throughout the work area.
  2. I use 70% Isopropyl Alcohol to disinfect the skin; also from a laboratory wash bottle. Read More
  3. Either lubricating jelly or an A&D type ointment is dispensed in order to lubricate the skin.  This is accomplished with a  pump system or a clean, disposable tongue depressor to remove the necessary quantity for the tattoo.
  4. If more is required, the depressor is not re-used, instead, a new depressor is used to remove the necessary amount.
  5. Clean dental-bib style towels are placed on the surface where the set-up is to be done.
  6. Ink is dispensed from clean bottles into single-use, plastic caps.  Any more ink required in mid-tattoo is poured into the cap without contacting the soiled ink or surfaces.
  7. Single use, sterile needles, and cleaned and autoclaved tubes are also laid out.  These are removed from their packages and finally set-up in front of the client.
  8. During the procedure, clean instruments are only put down onto the clean area covered by the towel.
  9. Any stencil (thermal transfer type) or pen (surgical) used to mark the skin, is single-use and is disposed of after the procedure.
  10. Sharp, soiled needles are disposed of in a sharps-bin at the station before the client leaves the area.  Soiled tubes to be cleaned are also removed to the sterile room at that time.
  11. Gloves are always used.  Either latex, nitrile, or vinyl.  They are checked frequently, and changed every 30 minutes whether they need to be or not.
  12. Completed tattoo is cleaned with the same mixture of Green Soap, followed by distilled water to rinse.
  13. Antibacterial ointment is applied, followed by a sterile dressing.  Plastic-wrap is never used
  14. Throughout the process, Universal Precautions are followed in order to prevent cross-contamination.

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