Autoclaves- Understanding what to look for from a Clean Studio

Thinking of getting a new piercing? Awesome! When going to get pierced, most folks know that its important to get pierced in a clean environment. Most even know to ask if needles are single use, and ensure gloves are worn by their piercer. These things are all great, but how do you actually know everything is clean and sterile? Are there other things you should be asking to see? If you were interested in knowing more in depth about cleanliness when piercing, this article may help. We will be going over one of the most important aspects of a clean and safe body piercing- the Autoclave! 
For those unfamiliar, an autoclave is a machine designed for the sterilization of tools, supplies, etc. When it comes to body piercing though, an autoclave is also used to sterilize all the pretty jewelry prior to piercing! To sterilize things, an autoclave uses high pressures and high temperatures (which create steam) to kill all bacteria and microorganisms. So if something is sterile, it means its free of anything living. Sterile tools, gloves and jewelry help to ensure you’re not being exposed to anything that may hurt you or your piercing. It’s important to be certain that your piercer is sterilizing all of their reusable implements, single-use implements, and your jewelry. 
Often times studios have designated areas that they process their tools in, which may also be the same area the autoclave is kept; meaning, if it isn’t somewhere easily seen, ask about it! Your piercer should be excited to show you their autoclave, and explain their sterilization process. If they keep things pre-sterilized, they should show you that the sterile packages are still intact, and open them correctly so they maintain sterility. If they are using a speed-clave or a Statim, ask to watch the implements and jewelry be loaded into the sterilizer. Most reputable piercers are thrilled to meet clients who have done enough research to ask about sterilization. We even nerd out with our medical field clients about different brands and models! We are very proud of how far this industry has come in regards to safety and cleanliness and the more clients who become educated on the subject the better! Its also important to note that dry heat and liquid soaks are not considered suitable for sterilization. 
Now that you’ve seen the autoclave, how do you know it’s working? Ask to see the spore tests! Spore tests are small samples of highly heat resistant bacteria (including things like hepatitis and staph) that are used to test if an autoclave is working correctly or not. These spore tests are run through an autoclave at its full cycle, and then sent to a lab to be tested for living microorganisms. None of the bacteria should survive, meaning the autoclave is functioning at its correct capacity. If anything does remain alive, then the autoclave has failed and is not properly sterilizing. It’s very important to check that the autoclave is running as intended so you can ensure whats being put in it is coming out sterile. This is always good for a client to know, so you’re able to ask to see proof that your jewelry and equipment are actually safe and sterile.  
In the state of Florida anyone who keeps things presterilized (such as having presterlized tools or needles) needs to date stamp the bags. “(2) Unless otherwise specified by the autoclave manufacturer, instruments that are to be autoclaved must be packed individually in single use paper peel-packs or other containers designed for sterilizing instruments and marked with the expiration date. The expiration date shall not exceed 30 days from the date autoclaved.” That means if you are seeing a piercer who uses any presterilized implements you can ask to see the date stamps on the bags to ensure they have been run in the last 30 days. 
Making sure that the places you go for your work are clean is a very important step in getting any kind of body piercing. We hope this can help you understand what to look for in a clean and safe studio, and we look forward to discussing our autoclave and spore tests with you whenever you visit us here at Amato!