Monday, 16 December 2019 19:05

Contamination-Free: How to Sanitize, Disinfect, and Sterilize Properly

Written by

Proper disinfection practices are the cornerstone of a successful spa business. As professionals, it is our duty to protect the public we service, while also protecting ourselves and our business.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has very clear outlines as to why and how we clean, disinfect, and sterilize our implements, workspaces, and tools of the trade. Along with the foundation of hand washing, it is imperative that we take every step necessary to keep our clients and ourselves healthy and safe. Science has never known more about pathogenic transmission as it does today, which is why sanitation and disinfection has become an everyday conversation in the spa industry.




According to the CDC, disinfection is defined as a process that eliminates many or all pathogenic microorganisms, except bacterial spores, on inanimate objects. Studies conducted have shown that failure to comply with CDC guidelines has facilitated numerous disease and infection outbreaks over the years, despite published guidelines and protocols. There are three levels of infection control, which include cleaning at the most superficial level, disinfection, and sterilization. Both disinfection and sterilization are only as effective as the cleaning method used. As such, cleaning refers to the method of physically removing potential contaminants, such as dirt, debris, and other foreign materials with either friction, rubbing, or fluidics like high pressured water. At the next level, disinfection requires a chemical solution to further remove pathogenic microorganisms. This method’s success is dependent upon a variety of factors including but not limited to: prior cleaning, the amount of potential pathogens present on the surface, the material being disinfected, as well the pH of the solution and the contact time. At the highest level of infection control is sterilization. Sterilization, although typically only required for invasive tools, according to the CDC’s website, is a process that destroys or eliminates all forms of microbial life and is carried out in health-care facilities by physical or chemical methods, such as steam under pressure, dry heat, EtO gas, hydrogen peroxide gas plasma, and liquid chemicals. It is of paramount importance that when disclosing infection control practices with clients we do not confuse disinfection for sterilization, as sterilizing is a complete process and must be revered as such. Both disinfection and sterilization are only as effective as the cleaning method utilized; therefore, taking the time to properly clean your instruments can make all the difference to your clients and their health.


Understanding the importance of infection control in the spa is key. Therefore, appropriate disinfection is vital to a healthy, thriving business that sees multiple clients a day. Knowing the guidelines and protocols for disinfection is the first step in a successful procedure. When using multi-use items, the proper removal of foreign material is necessary for successful disinfection, so as to not cross contaminate to other workspaces or tools. Therefore, to safely reuse these tools and instruments, they must be correctly cleaned with soap and water, then disinfected with the preferred agent, and sterilized if necessary. The importance of taking these steps is to assist in the prevention of disease spreading pathogens and should be an everyday priority for any spa establishment.




Utilizing habitual practices can take the guess work out of infection control. Start with thoroughly washing your hands. With improper hand washing being the main factor in disease transmission, the Better Health website states that washing your hands properly can help prevent the spread of germs (like bacteria and viruses) that cause diseases like salmonella and influenza. To ensure this practice is correctly adhered to, the CDC has recommended hand washing guidelines available for download on their website. Next is effective disinfection. The most effective way to disinfect tools or a workspace is to first read the manufacturer’s label and determine if the product is suited for your professional needs. Next, be aware of the terms single-use and multi-use. If it is porous and cannot be properly disinfected, it should be discarded after each use. Also, to hinder cross-contimation, always wash hands meticulously before and after every client, wear the appropriate gloves or personal protective equipment, and move through the disinfection procedure as soon as possible after use. If at any point foreign material has a chance to dry on the item to be disinfected, it becomes more difficult to successfully remove, making disinfection or sterilization less powerful. Lastly, efficient organization of the workspace can enhance the disinfection process by leaving ample space to prevent contamination. Habits like these will only benefit the client, the skin care professional, and the community, so it is best to create a routine and consistently stick to it.


Every skin care professional, technician, and business owner plays a part in infection control. Whether directly or in overview, it is important to know why we disinfect, how to accomplish it, and when to choose the appropriate level of infection control. The CDC has great information and insight into how to best practice infection control in the spa that is readily available online. We owe it to our clients to comply for their safety and well-being, as well as that of those around us and ourselves.






Brittany Facio is a Phoenix-based educator-turned-business development manager, passionate about how proper aesthetics education and sophisticated protocol implementation can create business-changing revenue. As a business development manager, she is responsible for not only educating her clients on skin care products and protocols, both on an individual basis and in regional training seminars, but also for providing marketing, merchandising, and branding assistance to generate leads and capture a new audience. When she is not working, Facio can be found enjoying play time with her family and Havanese rescue, Spruce, trying a new dinner recipe, and binge-watching comedies on Netflix.

Want to read more?

Log in or subscribe to continue reading this article.

Login to post comments

July 2020

Business Blogs

Brands of the Month

  • Repechage
  • Eminence Organic Skin Care
  • Celluma by Biophotas, Inc