Maintaining proper salon hygiene is hugely important to any hair or beauty business. But, we often see the most confusion around cleanliness is when it comes to methods of disinfection and sanitisation.

One of the main staples of salon hygiene we see is that jar of blue disinfectant kept at your station. But, just how effective is this when it comes to keeping your tools clean enough? Is there more you shouls be doing?

While disinfection, sterilisation and sanitation are terms that are often used interchangeably, they all actually have different meanings and should have a different place in your salon hygiene routine.

To help clear things up a little, we’ve put together a guide to salon disinfection and sanitation – plus, we asked the salon hygiene experts at Navy Professional for their advice on keeping your workplace sanitary, safe and hygienic.

Navy hygiene products

What are the differences between sanitising, sterilising and disinfecting in salons?

Sterilisation, disinfection, sanitation… exactly what do they all mean? And how should you practice them in your hair, beauty or nail salon?

Let’s start by breaking them down…


This is more of a general term that refers to the processes of keeping your environment clean, safe and healthy. In your salon, this means making sure hair and nail clippings are always swept into the bin, not leaving tools lying around, frequent hand washing, ensuring salonwear is clean and so on.

When it comes to properly cleaning your salon tools, sanitation means washing them regularly with warm water and soap – removing all visible dirt and product buildup with a brush before moving on to disinfecting them. If you don’t practise proper sanitation in your salon, your disinfectants are likely to be less effective and bacteria can breed much quicker.


Disinfection kills most – but not all – bacteria and fungi present on the surface of your tools. Not all disinfectants have the same level of effectiveness and they won’t be able to destroy highly resistant bacteria spores. Disinfectants also need to be used properly in order to do their job thoroughly.

Salon disinfection is highly important to all types of salon. Tools should always be sanitised and disinfected between every client to prevent the spread of bacteria.

Many salons choose to use barbicide solution to disinfect their tools. However, this alone is not enough. Tools should be regularly sanitised with hot soapy water before they are disinfected. They should then be dried thoroughly and stored somewhere clean.


This is the strongest form of cleaning. Sterilisation removes all forms of bacteria, fungi and viruses, including their spores. This is most important for tools that have been used when the skin barrier has been broken, such as in a medical setting.

For most hair and nail salons, sterilisation isn’t necessary on a day-to-day basis. However, if for any reason your tools do come into contact with wounds, blood or an infected area of skin, you would want to fully sterilise the tools involved.

How should you sterilise, sanitise and disinfect your salon tools – is blue disinfectant enough?

We probably don’t need to tell you that salon sanitation practices are extremely important to your hair or beauty salon. The main risk is cross contamination – either from yourself or between clients.

So, what do you need to do to ensure all your tools are properly disinfected and your salon is sanitary? Is dunking them in a jar of blue disinfectant enough?

According to Navy Professional, there are actually three simple steps you need to follow – Clean; Disinfect; Dry.

It’s a common misconception that throwing your tools into a jar of blue disinfectant or barbicide is all you need to do to. In fact, this is only one step in the process. It is just as important to thoroughly wash your tools in clean, soapy water. A complete drying process is also just as vital, as this prevents bacteria regrowth – a clean cloth and towel is all you need for this.

Looking for more expert advice on salon disinfection and sanitation? We asked Navy Professional for some more information on how to keep your tools clean and hygienic…

Salon Sanitation and Disinfection Q&A with Navy Professional…

Navy have developed their own innovative salon disinfection and sanitisation system with the expert help of Dr Patricia Fenton MSBS (NHS Trust Director of Infection and Prevention Control 2002-2013). Their wipes are quick, easy to use and thoroughly remove bacteria that can cause cross contamination – whilst also being biodegradable and vegan friendly!

We asked them to give us some more information for this month’s brand spotlight…

Can you give us a background to the Navy Professional brand and what it stands for?

Navy was created to set a new standard in beauty tooling and salon hygiene standards. With most industries having good quality ‘tools of the trade’, our founder, Rebecca, recognised a gap in the market. It became apparent to her that the only tools available to beauty professionals were often of poor quality and had just adapted from other industries. She went on a mission to create better!

You worked with Dr. Patricia Fenton on developing your products – what did you learn about salon hygiene while working with her?

While working with Dr Patricia Fenton MSBS (NHS Trust Director of Infection and Prevention Control 2002-2013), I was able to create a NEW set of guidelines and tool cleaning practices that would simplify the cleaning process.

Blue style disinfectants are often misused and misunderstood. So, as a previous salon owner and beauty professional, having a platform to educate was important to me.

I learned so much whilst working with Dr Fenton. One key piece of knowledge was finding out that disinfectants are unable to effectively work unless an item is pre-cleaned. I also believed that blue style disinfectants were enough, but sadly this isn’t the case. Plus, they are much more time consuming and misunderstood than most people think.

What would be your top tips for salons who aren’t sure of the best way to improve their salon hygiene practices?

It’s super simple with our 3 steps: CLEAN – DISINFECT – DRY. This is the same for hand care too.

Ideally you need a detergent to CLEAN, so a soap based product is perfect for this.

A disinfectant to DISINFECT such as a alcohol based disinfectant – ideally with 70% alcohol and 30% distilled water (this ratio is actually more effective than 90%+ alcohol content)

And finally a clean DRY cloth to absorb any excess product or water to avoid any regrowth of bacteria.

What are the important factors to take into consideration when buying salon cleaning products and disinfectants?

It’s super important to follow the three basic steps: CLEAN – DISINFECT – DRY.

By following these 3 steps, it will help eliminate the regrowth of any bacteria and will keep you safer for longer. It’s really important that you read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions and understand why you are doing what you are doing. Any type of cleaning product has instructions for a reason and needs to be followed to give you the optimum outcome from using the product.

What do you think the most common misconceptions are when it comes to salon hygiene?

Most people genuinely believe that simply steeping tools in blue style disinfects is enough, but it is not.

We’re not the blue liquid police, but we certainly think it is worth raising awareness that, unless used correctly, blue style disinfectants are not as effective as you may think they are. Navy Hygiene is simple and outlines the 3 steps for best practice in the salon.

Why would you say it is so important to prioritise hygiene in a salon environment these days?

With the ever growing risk of infection its important to protect your clients and of course yourself and your business. The industry isn’t as regulated as it perhaps should be, so its up to brands to ensure they give the best education and invest in knowledge for the consumer.

We created our Best Practice guidelines to ensure that free practical advice is available to all salons and beauty professionals, so they are able to make sensible decisions for their working environments. With the ever growing hygiene conscious consumer it is now also more important than ever that we provide our clients with reassurance that we are taking the best care of them.

What current salon hygiene regulations are currently in place in the UK – and do you think more should be done to maintain standards?

From our own internal research we have found the guidance surrounding hygiene standards within the industry to be misleading and conflicting. We try to work closely with leading bodies, such as BABTAC, in ensuring we are all spreading the same important messages and using our platform to educate with the most up to date knowledge.

What makes Navy Professional hygiene products stand out in the market?

We feel creating such a clear simple system allows us to reeducate as well as provide an effective product.

Our products are all vegan friendly and biodegradable, plus our packaging is recyclable too, which is super important for us.
We sell in over 36 countries and have great feedback as to the effectiveness of the product and reeducation of beauty professionals around their salon hygiene – we must be doing something right!

What does the future hold for Navy Professional through 2020 and beyond?

We have lots planned including our roadshow, which will see us travel up and down the UK and Ireland spreading love and hygiene happiness! We have 7 NEW tools in production and a few surprises in store. As a fairly new brand we are conscious to just take each day as it comes but are excited for the future.

You can shop the Navy Professional hygiene range online now at Salons Direct

Find more salon hygiene products  and salon PPE here.

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