Infection Control: Best Practices for Tattoo Artists

When it comes to tattooing, a flawless design is not the only factor that makes your craft exceptional. Infection control is equally, if not more, crucial. It safeguards both you and your client, ensuring a safe and seamless tattoo experience.

With a surge in the popularity of tattoos, infection control measures have become more important than ever. This article delves into the best practices for tattoo artists to ensure infection control, focusing on hygiene, sterilization, and aftercare.

What is Infection Control?

Infection control refers to the prevention of the spread of infections within healthcare settings. In the case of tattooing, the artist's workspace can be considered a healthcare setting where the risk of infection needs to be minimized. It involves procedures and practices aimed at reducing the risk of spreading pathogens.

Importance of Infection Control in Tattooing

  • Customer Trust: Clients are more likely to trust artists who adhere to strict infection control practices.
  • Legal Requirements: Regulatory bodies demand stringent infection control measures for tattoo parlors.
  • Safety: Protects both the artist and the client from potentially life-threatening infections.

Hygiene and Cleanliness

Personal Hygiene

  1. Handwashing: Always wash hands with an antibacterial soap before and after each client.
  2. Gloves: Wear medical-grade, disposable gloves and change them frequently.
  3. Protective Clothing: Don disposable aprons or gowns to avoid cross-contamination.

Workspace Cleanliness

  1. Sanitize Surfaces: Frequently clean and disinfect chairs, armrests, and worktables.
  2. Disposable Items: Use disposable razors, wipes, and tissues.
  3. Foot Pedals: If possible, opt for foot pedals that can be covered with disposable plastic.

Sterilization Procedures

  1. Auto-Claving: Use an autoclave to sterilize non-disposable equipment.
  2. Disposable Needles: Always use disposable needles and tubes.
  3. Sterile Packaging: Use equipment that is individually packaged and medically sterilized.
  4. Indicator Strips: Use sterilization indicator strips to ensure that the autoclaving process has been effective.

Tattooing Best Practices

  1. Single Use Ink: Only use ink that comes in single-service containers to prevent cross-contamination.
  2. Skin Prep: Use a medical-grade skin disinfectant before starting the tattoo.
  3. Waste Disposal: Safely dispose of needles, gloves, and other contaminated materials in a biohazard waste container.

Aftercare Guidelines

  1. Aftercare Sheet: Provide an aftercare sheet to every client to prevent infection and ensure proper healing.
  2. Topical Ointment: Suggest medically approved ointments and creams for aftercare.
  3. Follow-ups: Encourage clients to report any signs of infection immediately.


Infection control is non-negotiable in the tattoo industry. From basic hygiene to complex sterilization procedures, it's crucial to adhere to best practices to ensure the safety of both the artist and the client. By doing so, you not only comply with regulations but also build trust with your clients, setting yourself apart as a responsible and professional tattoo artist.


  1. How often should I replace my autoclave?
  • Regular maintenance is essential. Most manufacturers recommend annual servicing.
  1. Can I re-use ink?
  • Absolutely not. Leftover ink should never be returned to the original container and should be disposed of properly.
  1. What should I do if a client reports an infection?
  • Direct them to seek medical attention immediately and review your infection control practices to identify potential lapses. By implementing these best practices, you can create a safe and enjoyable tattooing experience for everyone involved.