By Michelle Knowles
Grooming products come in every conceivable size and shape of container. Gallon jugs, tubes, jars and bottles are some of the many ways our products are delivered to our shops and salons.
We all know the value of sanitizing the bottles and bowls that we mix products in, but the containers of the products themselves are often overlooked. Keeping the product sanitary, while transferring it to the mixing bottle or bowl, is one of the most forgotten and important steps to keeping germs and bacteria in the salon at a manageable level.
Even clean hands hold germs and bacteria in the tiny ridges of the fingerprint and the jagged surfaces of the nails and cuticles. Touching the surface of a newly opened cosmetic product can contaminate that product and spread germs to other surfaces, people and pets. Now imagine all of the microscopic critters that can find their way into the grooming environment on vehicles like urine, feces, vomit and anything else that the pets might have picked up while being stroked by humans and walking around in the dirty world. These biological contaminants can be found anywhere in the shop including your hair, smock, pencils, computer keyboard, face and hands which, if you are not careful, could end up inside the bottles of your precious shampoo and conditioner products.
While we have become more aware of the necessity in sanitizing our mixing bottles and bowls and utensils, the cleanliness of the original container is quite often compromised. This can lead to contamination of grooming tools, table surfaces and even the skin of the pets you are working on.
When opening a new gallon jug, jar or container, the outside should be wiped off before you break the seal. Care should be taken that the product is not “backwashed” into the container. If you have a spill, the spilled product should never be put back into the uncontaminated container, use immediately or wipe up and throw away.
Tubes that lead to bathing systems should be washed out with a disinfecting solution on a weekly basis or at least when it is time to insert them into a new container of shampoo or conditioner. Pumps that fit into our gallon jugs should be taken apart and disinfected every time you transfer it to a new container. An uncomplicated way to clean pumps is to soak them in a bleach solution and/or run them through the dishwasher.
Jars are the easiest container to contaminate as it is so easy to scoop product out with your wet hand as needed. Keep a box of large tongue depressors at your mixing station to scoop out product without putting your hands directly into the clean substance.
Spray bottles can also become dirty at the sprayer tip, as we handle them constantly. These tips, as well as the whole sprayer, can be soaked in a bleach solution at least once per week. Mixing a weak bleach solution or other disinfectant to have on hand is a quick and easy way to clean the outside of the bottles you handle daily.
Finishing sprays are often used by multiple people in the shop and are often dropped on the floor. Keeping the outside of your spray bottles clean will help with germ transfer control, especially in shops where groomers have children present. One of my biggest pet peeves is looking at the underside of the pump of hand soap and finding a hardened, dirty, lump of grossness stuck underneath. These things are so easy to clean but are often forgotten.
Tins and tubes are also in danger of fermenting germs if the top layer is not wiped off. Care can be taken to use cotton swabs or tissues to dispense the product without touching the surface of the substance.
The shelves on which you keep your products can also be a hidden source of germs. All of the bottles, gallons and various products can easily be rinsed off in the tub every 1 to 2 weeks to keep the excess product drippings from getting out of hand and the shelving units can get a good bleaching or disinfecting too.
The wet, cave–like dankness underneath the tubs are nirvana to mold and bacteria. This area should be kept free of product so that it can be mopped and cleaned out every evening. Even the surfaces of the tubs and both sides of any mats and tub racks you may use should get a good weekly scrubbing. If you are fortunate enough to have direct sunlight, after scrubbing, mats and racks can be left out in the sun for further disinfection.
Trash cans should also be scrubbed out, even if you use liners. It is always good to remember that germs, bacteria and fungus are everywhere at all times. It is in the maintenance that one can keep them at a tolerable level.
The cosmetics that we purchase to use on the pets we groom are costly and precious and need as much protection and care from germs as possible. In the midst of all of the things we do to keep our salons safe, healthy and prosperous, be sure to give your products the loving care they deserve by keeping them clean. ✂