Salon 911 How to Tell If Your Nail Salon Is Safe and Clean

Not sure if your fave nail salon is clean? Find out how to spot the red flags of dirty salons so your manicure or pedicure doesn’t leave you with an infection — or worse. 

A Nail Tech Giving a Woman a Manicure

With their rainbows of polish, array of magazines and plenty of patrons discussing the latest gossip, nail spas and salons don’t seem like a breeding ground for killer bacteria and viruses. But the frequently visited establishments can easily be responsible for certain health problems and the spread of serious infections like hepatitis and HIV. Find out how to spot a clean nail salon, the red flags that spell potential danger, and the qualities all safe salons share.

Red Flag #1: Dirt and Grime

Nail salons should be clean in every aspect, from the tables all the way to the restrooms. Any sign of uncleanliness (dusty furniture, unswept floors or no soap in the bathroom, for example) should not be ignored. Safe salons make sure the entire establishment is up to par, because cleanliness is the only way to avoid nail salon infections.

Red Flag #2: Communication Breakdown

Being able to speak with your nail technician is more important than you might think — and this goes beyond choosing a nail polish color. According to Safe Salon Rating, miscommunication is a primary cause of nail salon infections and lawsuits from infections. So if you and your technician aren’t on the same page so to speak, it’s better you find a new salon. 

Red Flag #3: Tarnished Tools

Safe salons use either an autoclave or dry heat to sterilize their metal tools, and they follow the manufacturers’ guidelines on proper sterilization times. If you spot dirty nail clippers and scissors or if the tools used on you did not come from a sealed package, ask the technician about the salon’s disinfection processes. Safe salons will be happy to explain their sterilization procedures, and any establishment not willing to do so is an establishment worth avoiding.

Red Flag #4: Filthy Files

If your nail salon pulls out dirty or used nail files, sanding bands and buffers, or if they pull these tools from an unclean drawer or container, you’re in the wrong place. Safe salons use brand new nail files and buffers on each and every customer. 

RELATED: How Much Should You Tip For A Pedicure?

Red Flag #5: Funky Foot Basins

Pedicure tubs are practically impossible to keep clean, so it’s best to steer clear of foot Jacuzzis — unless the salon offers single use tub liners. Better yet, only visit salons that offer jet and tube-free footbaths. This simple swap can help eliminate your chances of catching serious infections. 

Red Flag #6: Sore Spots

If you notice nail technicians working on clients with open sores, wounds or obvious infections on their hands or feet — or if a technician doesn’t turn you away when you have open sores, wounds or obvious infections on your hands and feet — leave immediately. Safe salons refuse to work on customers with these conditions, because doing so increases the chance of spreading dangerous diseases.  

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Articles having medical content shall serve exclusively for the purpose of general information. Such articles are not suitable for any (self-) diagnosis and treatment of individual illnesses and medical indications. In particular, they cannot substitute for the examination, advice, or treatment by a licensed physician or pharmacist. No replies to any individual questions shall be effected through the articles.

Kambra Clifford