Are Tattoo Needles Reusable or Single-Use?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on January 7, 2020
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

Tattoo needles should be considered as single-use and shouldn’t be reused. If you’re tattooing yourself at home and know how to sterilize your needles, well, nothing’s stopping you. A tattoo parlor shouldn’t reuse needles on someone else and should be disposed of immediately.

Good hygiene is one of the most important elements of getting a tattoo, and it all starts with the artist and parlor. High sanitation and hygiene rules should be observed without any shortcuts whatsoever. When it comes to tattoo needles, the utmost care should be taken in their use and disposal.

Why Shouldn’t You Reuse Tattoo Needles?

During a tattoo session, there’s going to be some bleeding involved, which will get onto the needles. Blood and body fluids can carry diseases such as HIV and hepatitis, and so it’s pretty clear that this risk should be mitigated at all costs. 

If an artist reuses tattoo needles that were used on an infected client on you, you stand a huge risk of contracting the disease. You can’t put a price on good health, but you can put a price on tattoo needles.

When Can You Reuse Tattoo Needles?

Reusing tattoo needles for multiple clients is a huge no-no because of the associated risks and dangers. However, if you’re a self-tattooist in the comfort of your home, then it’s really up to you if you want to reuse your tattoo needles. To do this safely, you should know how to disinfect the needles correctly, and with the right equipment.

Using boiling water and ordinary, over-the-counter disinfectants and alcohol wipes won’t work.

Instead, ensure that you have an autoclave, which is a machine that uses extremely high temperatures and pressure to kill microorganisms that could be found on tattoo equipment.

Other Sanitary and Hygiene Measures to Observe In A Tattoo Parlor

If you have concerns of needle, parlor or artist sanitation, there are some things you can do to check.

Are The Needles Sanitary?

You can tell if the tattoo needles are sanitary by the package they come in. It should be sealed just before use. If you notice this happening at the parlor you visit, run for the hills!

Some artists will deliberately open the sealed needle packet in front of you, which is evidence that an artist hasn’t used them already. If you see that the artist has already set the gun up and it’s ready to use, you can always check to confirm the needle is completely unused.

How Clean is The Tattoo Parlour?

A clean shop will speak for itself. The counters will be wiped down and clean, with no accumulation of trash on the floors or in overflowing bins. There should definitely be no blood-stained material laying around either.

If you see guns and needles lying around, this should be a red flag. Professional artists and parlors will have impeccable cleaning and disposal routines, which they’ll likely advise you of at your booking appointment.

Is There a Sharps Box?

A sharps box is basically a box where used needles and disposable cartridges are thrown. The reason for this is to prevent accidental pricks by used needles and also to ensure that used needles aren’t reused. 

Used tattoo needles should never be disposed of in a trash can. If you notice this, again, beat a hasty retreat out of there.

Do They Have an Autoclave?

An autoclave is a must-have in any tattoo parlor and is used for sterilization of tattoo equipment to prevent any infections. The conditions in an autoclave ensure that any microorganisms that were on the equipment have no chance of survival.

Many parlors will be happy to take you through how they sterilize their equipment if you inquire. If they dodge the question, alarm bells should ring!

Use of Gloves

Artists must always wear gloves on the job, which should be medical-grade, disposable gloves. If you notice that your tattoo artist doesn’t wear gloves or change them between clients, then that’s a huge sanitation concern.

Additionally, should a glove tear, then the tattoo artist is expected to change it immediately. A torn glove will expose both you and the tattoo artist to infection by coming into contact with body fluids. Without observing this minute, yet important, detail, you may be dealing with an unprofessional tattoo artist and putting your health at risk.

In Conclusion

Reusing tattoo needles for multiple clients in a tattoo parlor isn’t just highly discouraged — it shouldn’t happen! The risk of disease, infections and cross-contamination is very real.

Tattoo needles are for single-use only, unless you’re tattooing yourself at home. In this case, if you have the equipment and know-how to sterilize your tattoo needles, then you’re good to go. Furthermore, the sterilization process may be longer and more tedious than ordering your tattoo needles online and having them delivered. When you think about it, reusing needles may not be worth the risk and hassle involved.

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