Tattoo parlors used to be pretty scary places. They were cluttered and dirty and generally poorly lit. And some big hairy guy in a closet in the back room, who was covered with tattoos himself, might, if you were lucky, wipe his needle on his shirt sleeve before he started drilling into your arm. These days, though, tattoo shops are bright and cheery places where everybody likes to hang out. And, thankfully, the one piece of equipment they're all required to have is a steam autoclave.
An autoclave is a piece of machinery used to sterilize those tattoo needles. Most are small, table-top models that look like a little stainless steel cabinet or a really fancy pressure cooker. They work by producing highly pressurized steam and that steam is heated to a minimum of 134 degrees. When the tattoo needles and other equipment are exposed to that hot steam for a certain period of time, any bacteria, germs, and spores that might be on the surface are sterilized, or killed.
It's important that you have a steam autoclave in your tattoo shop for 3 reasons:
It's the law: In most states you're required by law to have some type of autoclave and to show that it's certified to be in good working order. The machine has to be visible and the certificate needs to be hanging on the wall for everyone to see. Regular safety inspections are also required.
It's the right thing to do: Today's germs and bacteria are more resistant than they were back in the day. Years ago, in those dark, dingy backrooms, you could wipe a needle with a little dab of alcohol, cross your fingers and you'd probably be fine. But these days, it takes a nuclear bomb to kill some of the bugs that are floating around. You protect your clients, and you protect yourself, when you use a steam autoclave to sterilize your non-disposable equipment.
Customer relations: Your clients will appreciate knowing that you have an autoclave and you'll be surprised just how many of them will ask about it. Long gone are the days when your clients were all drunken sailors who didn't care about anything but getting out of the chair and back to the bar. Today your clients come in all shapes and sizes and the only thing they want to leave with is a tattoo - not some deadly disease.
Tattoos still have a certain bad-boy reputation so it's difficult for some people to even walk through your door. Those people are still expecting to see the dark, dirty tattoo parlors they remember from the old-time movies and those are also the people who will turn around and leave if they don't like what they see. Put your clients at ease by letting them see that you use a steam autoclave to sterilize all your equipment and they'll be much more likely to sit down and get a tattoo.