In this Age of many diseases and viruses, many that kill and some incurable, proper sterilization is a serious concern. It also ought to be a priority with yourself that under no circumstances do you ever use non-sterile equipment All needles, tubes, bars and inks should be sterilized
To sterilize equipment before using, first put new needle bars and tubes in an ultrasonic cleaner. A chemical cleaner can be used in the ultrasonic cleaner. This helps get all the flux off of needles and works wonders in getting ink out of tubes. A tube can be scrubbed by hand for live minutes, but when they're put in an ultrasonic, the ink willjust boil right out of it. You may be able to get by without an ultrasonic in the beginning, but ifyou're planning on doing a lot of tattoos, you're going to want one before too long. Purchase one with a removable basket They also impress the Health Department and are well worth the money spent
When placing equipment in the ultrasonic cleaner, be careful not to damage a tip on one of the needles or it will be ruined. Place needles in basket gently, hcittff careful to point all the needles in the same direction. Sometimes the ultrasonic will actually dull and hook the needles during the cleaning process. To remedy this, lay a pencil under the back two legs of the ultrasonic to tip one end up higher than the other. Point the needles toward the high end and you won't have any problems.
Leave the equipment in the ultrasonic for about a half an hour When they're removed, it'seasy to brush off any remaining ink or other debris with a denture brush. Use the shorter bristles to clean the outside of the tube and the longer bristles to get up inside the tube and tube lip. The short bristles work well to clean needles,
TVi clean a tube, brush it good, inside and out, rinsing it out under the faucet while scrubbing.
Your ultrasonic ripple tank, next to your tattoo machine, is your best friend. It will do a more thorough job in less time than what you could do by hand. Tattoo inks are stubborn to remove and occasionally, even following an ultrasonic bath, you'll find traces of pigment on a lube or needle.
To clean needles that are attached to the end of the needle bar, sprinkle some soap powder of your choice on stained areas, hold a demure brush in your right hand and the needle bar in your left hand, with tips of the needtes resting against your index fingers, Always scrub needles in one direction only, in the direction of the points. Drag the end of the needle bar and the needles across the brush backwards so you don't snag and ruin one of the needle points. Start the motion above the brush, coming down and across the brush,
IF you happen to catch a needle by mistake, set it aside and look at the points through an eye loupe to make sure a tip hasn't been barbed. It's easy to do. If it's barbed, discard it and put a new set of needles on the bar As you scrub the needle, spin the needle bar in your hand so you can scrub both sides of the needle and bar. Learn this procedure well or you'll end up ruining more needles by scrubbing them than you will by tattooing.
If you have an ultrasonic cleaner, the stuff will come off easily. Rinse the piece well under running water ami make sure to get any soap or liquid cleanser off. Tryecting liquid cleanser residue into a customer's skin along with the ink is sure to cause complications that you don't want to even think about.
After tubes and needle bars have been scrubbed and rinsed well, it's time to sterilize them because ultrasonics do not sterilize, they just vibrate hardened ink and crustrations off of the parts. Dip them in Benz-all solution. Then carefully line them up in a dry heat sterilizer and turn it on for fifty minutes. At the end of this time, remove them and put in stainless steel containers full of Benz-alL This keeps the needles from rusting and keeps tubes and needles sterile until ready for use. Sterilizer tubing and bags are also available from your supplier.
If you don't have a sterilizer yet, get one as soon as you can. A good versatile sterilizer is an autoclave. Some have an additional door on the same unit as it doubles asadry heatsterilizer(perfect for stencil powder). Since these are accompanied with instructions for use, there is no point in giving that information here. If you don't want to invest in one right away, a pressure cooker will do the same thing. A thirty minute run at 250" Fahrenheit will make it safe.
Water boilers don't destroy virus and are, therefore, unreliable.
Ethylene Oxide sterilizers are excellent and very potent, but in the hands of a careless operator, they can be deadly. It's not the route to go, unless you're a very cautious type and run a tight ship. In the meantime, you can sterilize equipment by boiling it for one hour in a clean pan. Do not put items directly on bottom of pan. Store tubes and needle bars in Benz-al! solution using either stainless steel or glass containers (with lids, the kind you find in a doctor's office). Store needle bars fiat so tips aren't damaged. Some ink caps can be sterilized and some melt. Make sure you get the kind that can be sterilized and then store them in Benz-all. This keeps them sterile until they're needed.
Maintain adequate lighting in your studio, especially in the booth. In the immediate work area, keep a lamp on twenty-four hours a day. Germs don't like light
During working hours, keep hands immaculate, be shaved (unless you wear a beard) and well groomed. Appearances make a difference.
If your booth is painted, use white or a light colored enamel paint.
Wherever possible, especially in the booth, avoid the use of rugs.
If at all possible, provide some type of ventilation, air conditioning or otherwise. Germs like the places That are stagnant. Mankind has not yet invented a method of sterilization as effective as sunshine and fresh air.
Except when pouring ink. keep bottles tightly capped at all times,
Skin cannot be sterilized. The next best thing is to cover the area to be worked with Iodine or Betadine before beginning.
Fill a spray bottle with water and add a teaspoon of tincture of green soap. While working, use this solution to wipe off excess ink.
After each day's work, clean up around the bench and mop the floor.
Except in rare instances where you require assistance in stretching the skin taut, make it a firm rule that nobody except yourself and the customer you are working on are allowed inside the booth.
Everything that comes in contact with the skin can be divided into two categories. Disposable ami reuseable. Whatever is disposable must be discarded at the completion of each tattoo, and whatever is reusable must be cleaned and sterilized.
Discard the caps and ink remaining in them, tongue blades, vaseline, used paper towels, etc., after each customer.
After each tattoo, remove tube and needle bar and immerse in a shallow tray (market! "Used") of water to which some Lysol has been added. Place needle bars inside tubes, don't interchange tubes and needle bars - if you do, you're courting trouble. At the end of the shift, remove and rinse, one set at a time, and place in ultrasonic tank for final cleaning- Remove and rinse each set individually under running water and then wrap each set individually in autoclave paper, place in autoclave or dri-clave for the required time and they're ready for the next day. Leave them wrapped and only remove the paper from one setata time when you use them. It is a good idea to use color coded tags on each item put into the autoclave. Tags will change color when the sterilization is complete.
Pigments that are self-mixed should be cooked and are safer and enter the skin more readily. Sometimes baby bottle or pyrex coffee urns are employed for this. Another good way of doing this is to get a Cook and Stir Blender. Get a quantity of Polyethylene jars, one for each color, about a quart size with about a IVjinch neck. It's a messy job, so prepare to do a large batch at a time. Mix a quantity of pigment per instructions on package in a glass vessel and pour it into blender. t\irn it on and set heat at desired temperature and speed of your choosing. It can be cooked one-half an hour or all day. Add liquid occasionally to prevent going dry. Cooking the same batch for a while on three successive days is a good idea. Let cool slightly and pour into Polyethylene containers. Seal cap tightly when batch cools to room temperature. Now you have enough of that color to last several years. Clean the blender and canister and it will be ready for the next color. Store containers on a shelf in a well lighted area. A word of caution here, several days before using, wash containers well with Lysol and hot water, put some alcohol on them and shake well, then drain off alcohol before using.
Already mixed store bought colors are the best bet for the starting tattooist. They are mixed perfectly and are a lot less messy to deal with. They can be sterilized in containers that don't melt.
Never use ink direct from a sterile bottle full, pour out what you need into a sterilized ink cap.
Thought should be given to protecting your own health as well as that of the customer. It would be ironic to make such an effort to assure the safely of your customer and then you yourself pick up a contagious disease from contact with them. For the benefit of both parties, wear latex gloves. Gloves are generally latex surgical gloves and are available from your tattoo supply house. They are form fitting, comfortable to wear and at the end of your shift, you won't have to spend twenty minutes trying to brush ink from around your fingernails. Gloves may be awkward the first few times they are worn but after that, you'll wonder why you haven't always worn them.
Since we have entered into an age of pestilence, local health boards will try to use tattooists as a scapegoat and consider their services dispensable. If you use common sense and follow the rules in this chapter, you can be among the survivors and the results will be very rewarding. In the beginning, you may have to tighten your belt to furnish a shop in this style, but when push comes to shove, youll have the support of your customers and the respect of the media and people in high places on your side.
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