Sterilize Vs. Sanitize

by | Feb 15, 2013

At a spa or salon, all instruments and foot baths should be cleaned, sanitized and sterilized between every single client.  A common misconception is that sanitizing and sterilizing is one in the same, but there is actually a distinct difference that can mean the difference between another relaxing service and an ugly fungal toenail or infection.

  • Cleaning is the process of removing surface material.
  • Sanitizing is the process of killing some forms of microbial life.
  • Sterilizing is the process of killing all forms of microbial life, including transmissible agents such as fungi, bacteria, viruses, spore forms, etc.

Sterilization can be achieved in many different forms including applying chemicals, heat, steam, high pressure, or a combination.  The most common way to achieve sterilization is via steam using an autoclave.  An autoclave is a device used to sterilize equipment by subjecting tools to high pressure saturated steam at 250–273 °F for 15–20 minutes. Sterilizing with an autoclave kills all bacteria, viruses, fungi, viruses, and spores.  Spotting an autoclave in a salon is a great sign of proper sterilization!

Many autoclave packs or bags have built in indicator strips on them.  These strips turn to a different color after sterilization.  Ask to see the bag your instruments are sterilized in and make sure the colored strip has changed colors before the tools are used.  Instruments may be autoclaved, but if the indicator strip has not changed colors, the tools are not sterile yet.  This may indicate more time needed in the autoclave or at higher temperatures.  

Most salons only sanitize their equipment instead of sterilizing which removes all harmful bacteria. At Healing Steps Spa, we ALWAYS sterilize our equipment in between each customer to give you the safe, sanitary spa experience you deserve.

Call to schedule your spa service today at (309) 661-9975!


10 Heartland Drive Suite B
Bloomington, IL 61704

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