A tattoo is a lifetime commitment, so you should take the choice of where to have a tattoo done very seriously. It is wise to make studio hygiene one of the main factors in choosing a studio for your tattoo experience. Because the skin is broken during inking, the tattoo artist must ensure a clean and germ free environment and hygienic practices. If not, the client may be subject to terrible diseases such as hepatitis, infection and even HIV. For this reason clients should always ask the prospective tattoo artist about the tattoo studio hygiene and sanitary procedures and ensure that they are followed. It is unwise to presume that all policies will be followed at all times even when you are already familiar with the tattooist or have had them recommended to you.
It is usually easy to know whether the hygiene practices are acceptable. Good tattoo studio hygiene is actually quite similar to what one would experience at a dentist or doctor's office. Whenever possible, disposable equipment should be used. For example, if the skin needs to be shaved, a disposable razor should be used and then thrown immediately away. Tattoo needles are also often disposable, and the ink pots which hold the ink for each session should be used only once. All instruments which come in contact with body fluids are disposed of separately from other garbage in clearly marked biohazard bins if proper tattoo studio hygiene is followed. Proper cleaning of multi-use instruments is also of utmost importance to a professional standard of hygiene. Multi-use instruments should be placed in an ultrasonic cleanser at least once before being wrapped in sterile cloth and sterilised in an autoclave. The instruments should not be unwrapped until they are about to be used, this you will clearly see happening if proper hygiene is followed. Larger instruments and surfaces, such as the tattoo machine, instrument trays, counter tops and the client's chair must be disinfected between each session as part of tattoo studio hygiene.
Although you may not see all these practices being conformed to whilst you are there you should be able to see the cleaning materials and the instruments should look clean. If you are keen (as you should be) to ensure tattoo studios hygiene it is best to visit before making an appointment; in addition to the personality and talent of the artist, tattoo studio hygiene should be a top priority. Simply watching the tattoo artist will go a long way toward becoming comfortable with the process. Questions you should really be asking include: does the artist confirm with the client the design and location of the tattoo? Is the studio tidy or cluttered? A cluttered studio is more difficult to sanitise. Does the artist change gloves during each step of the procedure? Disposable gloves should be changed after tattooing, after cleaning up any blood on the tattoo site and after cleaning the studio for the next client. And finally, does the artist wash his or her hands often? All of these are vital questions to guarantee tattoo studio hygiene. If you don't want to ask these questions just hanging around the studio should provide the answers. These important points should be investigated before you put yourself in the vulnerable position of sitting in the client chair.