How to Clean and Maintenance Tattoo Machine

How to Clean and Maintenance Tattoo Machine

Tattooing is not just an art form but also a service that requires the highest standards of hygiene and equipment care. The cornerstone of excellent service in this field is a well-maintained tattoo machine. Ensuring your machine is clean and in top condition is essential, not only for your client's safety but also for preserving the lifespan and performance of your valued equipment.

Why is it Important to Clean Your Tattoo Machine?

Keeping tattoo machines pristinely clean is non-negotiable. Like with any equipment used invasively, neglect heightens infection risks to clients from blood-borne pathogens through needle pricks. Stories abound of hospitalizations from unhygienic tattoo applications. Beyond health impacts, such incidents also devastate business reputations irrevocably when word spreads.

Additionally, the accumulated buildup of bodily fluids, ink, and cleaning agents degrades machine function over time. This forces overexertion to compensate, causing more client tissue trauma. Clogged needles require excess force, again inflicting discomfort. Gradually, residue can corrode electrical contacts permanently.

Overall, contamination brings physical harm, functional deterioration, and fiscal liability. Strict sanitization protocols protect clients, preserve equipment integrity for quality artwork, and secure your studio's image. No talent outweighs safety. Cleanliness is an absolute mandate, not a negotiable best practice.

Why is it Important to Clean Your Tattoo Machine?

How to Clean a Tattoo Machine

The following steps provide a thorough guide to maintaining the cleanliness and function of your tattoo machine:

  • Careful Disassembly: Refer to manufacturer guides on proper component breakdown before attempting. Avoid forcing pieces apart aggressively. Protect precision connections like contact screws.
  • Manual Scrubbing: Use nylon brushes and toothpicks to dislodge dried ink and bodily fluid buildup - especially in tube/grip crevices, gear teeth, and along armature bars. Next, wipe down with isopropyl alcohol pads.
  • Ultrasonic Bath Cleaning: Fully submerge components in an ultrasonic cleaner with warm water and diluted cleaner. Frequency vibrations shake loose deep-set contaminants from small crevices. Rinse afterward.
  • Enzymatic Soak: Further break down biological residues using enzyme solutions tailored for tattoo equipment. These catalyze the chemical breakdown of proteins without damage. 30-minute soaks suffice for most pieces.
  • Autoclave Sterilizing: Gold standard hygiene practice involves autoclave machines utilizing pressurized steam to eliminate all microbes and viruses through extreme heat. Non-disposable grips, tubes, and casings withstand autoclaving.
  • Medical-Grade Disinfectants: Alternatively, fully immerse components for 20 minutes minimum in EPA-approved germicidal and virucidal disinfectant formulations specifically for tattoo gear. Rinse thoroughly afterward.
  • Careful Rebuilding: Finally, precisely reassemble the fully cleaned and sterilized components in the correct order. Ensure all connections are flushed without gaps and moving parts have lubrication to avoid seizing up.

Applying the right mix of manual scrubbing, ultrasonic cleaning, chemical soaking, and steam/disinfectant sterilization optimally balances practicality with foolproof machine decontamination between clients. Protect yourself and your clients!

How to Clean a Tattoo Machine

Special Cleaning Considerations by Tattoo Machine Type

With diverse tattoo machine constructions available today, tailored cleaning approaches help optimize safety and performance. Let's overview key distinctions:

1. Coil Tattoo Machines

As heritage electromagnetic models with extensive interconnected components, coil machines need meticulous breakdowns before scrubbing. Pay special attention to solenoid coils, rotating armature bars, and contact screws which accumulate significant residue but remain sensitive. Expect more time investment.

2. Rotary Tattoo Machines

Modern rotary tattoo machines are electrically powered similar to dental drills. With fewer parts like eccentric cam assemblies and drive shafts, cleaning is more straightforward. However, ensure internal motor seals stay intact and fully protected from any fluids that can short-circuit operations.

3. Pneumatic Tattoo Machines

Pneumatic tattoo machines utilize compressed air instead of electromagnetism. Cleaning agents like liquids can't enter the pneumatic system here. Stick to external wiping, low-moisture ultrasonic cleaning, and chemical disinfection only. As a precaution, optimally detach air tubes before scrubbing too.

While all tattoo machines require intensive cleaning, accommodating differences in construction allows customized processes respecting nuances of coils, motors, and pneumatic systems across models. Match decontamination methods to machine anatomy for peak hygiene without damaging sensitive components! It's a meticulous balancing act.

Special Cleaning Considerations by Tattoo Machine Type

Ongoing Maintenance Beyond Cleaning

While comprehensive cleaning and sterilization of tattoo machines between clients remains paramount, additional maintenance protocols preserve performance and longevity over years of continual use. Let's expand on key considerations:

1. Lubrication

Post-cleaning, all moving components along drive trains and armature barrel assemblies require thin-layer lubricant application. Avoid heavier oils that gun up. This prevents seizing and ensures buttery-smooth coils for reduced noise/vibrations. Reapply lubricant every 20-30 operating hours.

2. Assessment & Replacement

During post-cleaning rebuilds, closely inspect components for wearing signs - examine grip/tube flaws under bright lights, check contact point alignments, and rotate motors to feel for hitches. Replace worn pieces like contact screws regularly to avoid tattooing impediments.

3. Test Operations

Before client sessions, confirm proper operations by attaching tubes and power supplies momentarily - flick the armature bar using non-conductive tools to detect sluggishness. Catching problems early prevents mid-tattoo failures which can alter outcomes.

By integrating cleaning with vigilant maintenance habits targeting lubrication needs, wearing assessments, and pre-session function tests, your tattoo machine withstands years of reliable operations across thousands of artworks inked!

The Takeaway

A clean and well-maintained tattoo machine is non-negotiable in the tattoo industry. By implementing a systematic approach to the cleaning and upkeep of your equipment, you elevate your professional standards and, most importantly, protect the health of your clients. Remember that the effort you put into maintaining your machine reflects the respect you have for your craft and clientele. Taking the time to perform these tasks correctly will serve you well in the long term, making sure that your machine remains a trusty extension of your artistic hand.