When you are considering getting a tattoo, it is always best to do your research ahead of time if you have even the slightest qualm about the process. For the next few days, we will look at the process of getting a tattoo from start to finish, and this may alleviate any of your nerves you have going into the process. The main focus of the tattoo application today is safety. Any puncture wound, this is what a tattoo machine is doing to your skin, bares the potential for an infection or disease.

The best and only acceptable method to sterilize tattoo equipment today is an Autoclave. An autoclave is a heat, steam and pressure unit, also used in hospitals, achieving and maintaining up to 132 degrees Celsius (270 degrees Fahrenheit) under 7 Kilograms (15 pounds) of pressure for 15 minutes. Others maintain 121 degrees Celsius (250 degrees Fahrenheit) under 5 Kilograms (10 Pounds) of pressure for 30 minutes. Most autoclave are running 55 minutes from a cold start to ensure a complete sterilization. To eliminate the possibility of contamination almost all tattooing materials like ink cubs, needles, ink, gloves etc. are just used only once but there are some reusable materials as the tube or the needle bar which must be sterilized.

They are put into special pouches with indicator strips on them and then left in the autoclave for a complete circle. The indicator strips change the color once the sterilization is completed. Sterilizing with an autoclave ensures killing every living microorganism. The sterilization usually takes place before the customer comes into the parlor and will probably not be seen by him. The only thing you will see is the pouch the needle bars were sterilized in, but this will be explained more exactly later on.

Other tattooing equipment like spray bottles, clip cords and the tattoo machine itself is supposed to be covered by plastic bags to prevent contamination.

Before beginning the actual procedure of tattooing itself the artist will wash his hands and disinfect his working area with an EPA approved disinfective, put on new gloves and follows this guidelines:

1.) He puts new plastic bags over the spay bottles, the tattoo machine and the other equipment described above.
2.) Takes out new ink caps and puts tattoo ink in them.
3.) Opens up a sealed pouch autoclave sterilized equipment and clamps it onto the tattoo machine.
4.) Disinfects and shaves the area to be tattooed.
5.) Moistens the area and places a stencil with the outlines of the tattoo on it.

After taking of the stencil again he will let it dry for a couple of minutes and the start the actual tattooing procedure.