Nail-clipper sterilization is a critical part of maintaining healthy nails, as it kills harmful bacteria that can reside on the blades or the handle. This bacteria can turn into nail fungus, which is easily transmitted if clippers are not sanitized between each use. Cleaning and sanitizing are two separate tasks that are both required for proper sterilization. Cleaning removes visible dirt and debris from the clippers, while sanitizing kills infection-causing bacteria and pathogens.

The Importance of Clean Clippers

Unsanitary tools can cause onychomycosis — a fungal infection of the fingernails or toenails. In addition, salons and professional nail technicians must adhere to the sterilization requirements of their state and local municipalities. Check with your government’s resources to ensure compliance with any additional sterilization laws.

Cleaning Clippers

Wash and dry your hands thoroughly before beginning. Then, insert a scrub brush into a bowl containing a 70- to 90-percent solution of isopropyl alcohol. Add enough alcohol to covers the brush completely. Allow the brush to soak for 5 minutes to completely sanitize it. Use the brush and 1 teaspoon of antibacterial soap to scrub the clipper blades and handle. Rinse the clippers in hot water until no soap suds remain. Dry the clippers thoroughly using a clean paper towel.

Sanitizing for Safety

Fill a fresh bowl with isopropyl alcohol and insert the nail clippers into the bowl; make sure that the clippers are completely submerged in the alcohol. Wait 30 minutes to allow the alcohol to kill any bacteria or fungus that remains on the clippers. Remove the clippers from the alcohol and place them on a clean paper towel. Cover the clippers with another paper towel to prevent any airborne contamination from occurring while they dry.

Sterile Storage Methods

Once the clippers are sanitized, it’s important to store them properly to prevent contamination. The Professional Beauty Association recommends storing them in a clean, lined drawer that contains only other sterile items. You can achieve a similar result at home by wrapping the clippers in a paper towel and storing them in a clean makeup bag. Avoid storing clippers in plastic storage bags or tightly sealed storage containers, which can promote the growth of bacteria.