How to stop your nail tools from rusting

Are you experiencing premature tool breakdown such as rusting? This can be a common issue among nail techs but there is a simple solution to help keep your tools in top class condition.

Firstly, let's understand how rust occurs.

Rust occurs on nail tools when water (or moisture) and oxygen comes into contact with iron or steel for a certain amount of time.

When we clean, disinfect and sterilise our nail tools, they naturally come into contact with water. This is why it is critical to follow the correct protocols throughout to prevent moisture residing on your tools and causing the chemical reaction which presents as rust. This can also be caused by the environment of where your tools are kept, for example a humid or damp room. This would leave moisture and water on the tool and would in turn, over time develop into rust.

Now you understand how and why rust develops on your nail tools, follow these top tips to prevent it:

Follow the manufacturer guidelines

Following the manufacturer’s guidelines is essential for success and longevity with your tools. These precise instructions are carefully composed for a reason; they follow comprehensive manufacturer research, trialling and testing to guarantee the suitable uses and care for the product. This includes the amount of time that the tool is submerged into disinfectant solution.

It is important to recognise that it is not the solution or the tool itself that causes the premature breakdown; it is the incorrect use.

Many techs pick up the habit of keeping tools submerged in cleaning liquid continuously against manufacturer’s instructions and advice. Again, these instructions were created to prevent issues and if you go against them, issues will arise. Manufacturer directions state that tools should only be placed in the solution for a specific time frame, usually around 10 minutes but this can vary from brand to brand and solution to solution. Not only is this the tested and required time needed to kill any bacteria or fungus that the solution has been designed to, but it prevents damage to your nail tools. Follow my guidance on using disinfectants safely here.

Almost as essential as the correct submersion time, is what happens when the tools are removed from this solution. Correct drying of the tools is paramount to prevent rusting and damage. When removed from the solution, take a soft tissue or cloth and thoroughly dry the implements, including any crevices.

What are your tools made from?

The quality of the tools is essential as disinfectants and certain sterilising procedures are only suitable for certain materials, mainly stainless steel. Colourful coatings and effects often compromise the quality and dis-infectibility of the metal. Let’s put it this way: when have you ever seen a Dentist or a Doctor using colourful implements? There is a good reason for this. That being said, a chromium plating can help prevent rusting on tools.

However, have you noticed that your tool, including those of good quality, may only rust in certain places; most often in hidden crevices such as in knurling (the textured handle area) or at hinges? This is due to the coating that is applied to the steel and the difficultly of machines being able to coat these crevices. If a tool has knurling, then the tool should therefore only be submerged as high as the tool head which comes into contact with the client. However with correct submersion time and drying, this issue shouldn’t occur.

Store and clean your tools correctly

The correct storage of tools is also paramount to their longevity. Sharp implements should be stored in a safe and tidy box or stand. When placed in the disinfection solution, a circle of cotton wool should be placed in the jar to prevent blunting edges. However, this will not allow complete submersion of the tool, therefore leaving areas of the tools not disinfected. We therefore recommend using a disinfection storage solution such as a disinfection tray where the tools can be laid flat and fully submerged in the solution for optimum efficiency. Plastic blade protectors or pouches that come with the tools should also be used to protect the sharp edges. As well as safe working techniques, sharp implements should not just be left in your direct working area to avoid injury to yourself and client but also to keep the tool at its optimum efficiency. Dropping your tools and using them for unintended purposes will also cause damage and affect their quality and working capability. As well as following your manufacturers guidelines, you should also follow safe working practices from HSE.

It can be easy to blame the solution and seek alternatives but the same issues will arise if techs continue to ignore manufacturer instructions. When choosing a disinfectant, opt for a hospital grade and approved solution. There are several well-known brands which have been on the market for over 60 years and are still used in hospitals to this day. There is a reason for this and the reputation speaks for itself. If you are ever in doubt of how to care for your tools, contact your manufacturer for their advice – they will be happy to help.

Follow my sanitation, disinfection and sterilising procedures tutorial here.

Take care of your tools and they will take care of you.

Love Katie B x