PMU Tools: How to Clean & When to Replace Them

By Katarina V.| Last updated on January 23, 2024
how to clean pmu tools & when to replace them
⏱️ 6 min read

When it comes to permanent makeup, there are two things that are non-negotiable. First, precision is everything. And second, client safety is the top priority.

Yet, there’s one crucial detail that often gets overlooked — probably because it’s the least glamorous part of being a PMU artist. As you can guess, it’s the maintenance of PMU tools.

This is your sign to learn how to properly clean your PMU tools and when it’s time to toss them in the trash. So let’s get straight to the point.

Why You Must Clean Your PMU Tools Regularly

Regular cleaning isn’t about ticking a box, but rather safeguarding your clients and the quality of your work.

Given the close contact of the PMU tools with the skin and sometimes even blood, poor hygiene poses a risk of bloodborne diseases like hepatitis B, HIV, and similar illnesses for both you and your clients.


POV: You booked an appointment for your PMU procedure, and this is what the clinic looks like. ✔️The clinic is sanitized before and after the procedure. ✔️Disposable tools / Instruments are UV cared. ✔️ Artist is Bloodborne Pathogens Trained and Certified ✔️ Studied how the pigment would behave on the skin and have broad knowledge of the anatomy of the skin. This is not me being an OC artist; I’m telling you this is the standard protocol. To protect myself, my clients, and the people around us.

♬ Live Your Beautiful Life - Gray Griggs

As you can see in the video, clean PMU tools are just one fragment of the entire picture. The other one is your workspace, of course.

To give your clients the best PMU experience, your salon or clinic should always be sanitized before and after the booked procedure.

Find out how to keep your salon spotlessly clean here.

What’s the Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting?

For PMU artists, knowing the difference between cleaning and disinfecting is crucial for effective tool maintenance.

So, let’s break down these concepts into simple terms and understand their unique roles.


Cleaning is all about removing visible dirt and impurities from targeted surfaces.

In the context of PMU tools, it’s the initial step to eliminate any makeup residue, ink, or organic matter.

Basically, this process focuses on achieving a visibly clean surface, promoting a professional appearance and preventing any potential contamination.

Effective cleaning can be accomplished through the use of appropriate cleansers, detergents, and brushes.


Disinfecting takes the sanitation process a step further by eliminating all microorganisms that may not be visible to the naked eye.

Wherever PMU tools are reused on clients for any action that opens up the skin or deals with body fluids, an autoclave is a must.

This machine uses extremely hot steam — 250°C or more — which gets into all the nooks and crannies of the medical or PMU tools and destroys any microbes on them.

It’s also a good idea to boost your protocols with EPA-approved disinfectants to minimize the risk of contamination and further ensure a sterile environment for the procedure.

How to Properly Prep for Cleaning Your PMU Tools?

While every PMU artist has their own cleaning routine, it can be useful to cover the basics by using the tried and tested practice.

To make the process as neat and clean as possible, it’s best to organize your PMU supplies and equipment in groups, ranging from the highest-risk to the lowest-risk tools.

Let’s take a look at the 3 main categories.

High-Risk PMU Tools

The term “high-risk” refers to tools that come into direct contact with bodily fluids, such as blood or mucous membranes.

These tools require absolute attention in your cleaning routine because they carry a great potential for transmission of bloodborne pathogens.

The high-risk category includes PMU needle cartridges.

Medium-Risk PMU Tools

This category encompasses tools that have contact with intact skin but not directly with bodily fluids.

In other words, the medium-risk PMU tools differ from the high-risk ones in the sense that they do not puncture or penetrate the skin in any way.

While the risk is lower than high-risk tools, maintaining a thorough cleaning routine is still crucial to uphold professional standards.

The medium-risk category includes the following PMU tools:

  • Tweezers
  • Brushes
  • Holders
  • Rings

Low-Risk PMU Tools

These tools have minimal contact with the clients’ skin and pose the lowest risk of contamination.

While the risk is relatively low, incorporating a basic cleaning routine remains essential for maintaining an overall hygienic workspace.

The low-risk category includes the following PMU elements:

  • Calipers
  • Mapping tools
  • Scissors

How to Effectively Clean Your PMU Tools?

Let’s take a closer look at the cleaning process of the PMU tools from the 3 categories.

How to Clean High-Risk PMU Tools?

Microblading blades and needle cartridges for PMU machines are meant to be used in only one session, on only one client.

After the procedure, these items should be disposed of in FDA-cleared sharps containers clearly labeled BIOHAZARD INFECTIOUS WASTE.

However, there are some PMU elements — like reusable handles for PMU tools — that you can clean and use safely again.

The only way to eliminate all germs, viruses and bacteria from these items is to use an autoclave, which reduces the risk of cross-contamination to a very low degree (0.0001%).

How to Clean Medium-Risk PMU Tools?

Tools in this category — like tweezers and holders — should be meticulously wiped down with a surface disinfectant spray.

To make sure your tools are squeaky clean, always follow the instructions on the product label for proper usage time to saturate and wipe.

Here’s our pick for the deep-cleaning disinfectant product with high-quality ingredients:

How to Clean Low-Risk PMU Tools?

Items in this category — like the scissors and mapping tools — should be sprayed with disinfectants like isopropyl (rubbing alcohol) regularly.

However, the contact time is not as important as for the medium-risk items, so you can wipe your tools down in a minute.

You can find rubbing alcohol anywhere, and this is our top Amazon pick for your cleaning collection:

When Should You Replace Your PMU Tools?

Over time, PMU tools experience wear and tear, impacting their effectiveness and potentially compromising the quality of your work.

Here’s a couple of tips on how to recognize when it’s time to retire your PMU tools.

Hygiene Concerns

If certain PMU tools become challenging to sterilize despite all your efforts, it’s an indication that they may have reached the end of their lifespan.

Material Breakdown

Tools made of materials prone to deterioration may exhibit signs such as cracking or peeling, making them difficult to clean thoroughly.

At this point, you should definitely toss these items in the trash.

Compliance with Health Standards

Regularly assess your tools against industry health standards to identify any deviations.

Make sure to quickly replace all compromised tools, especially the high-risk ones, to maintain optimal performance and safety.

Comparison with New Tools

Periodically compare the performance of your old tools with the new ones.

If there’s a noticeable decline in performance, it might be time for an upgrade.

Bonus Tip for Keeping Your PMU Tools in Top Shape

As technology evolves, it’s a must for you to stay informed about advancements in PMU tools. This is the only way to make sure you are using the most effective and safest options available.

How to Extend the Lifespan of Your PMU Tools?

Implementing effective maintenance practices boosts the durability of your PMU station, as well as the overall efficacy of your work.

One of the best strategies is to choose containers and environments that prevent damage, ensuring each PMU tool is stored securely and maintains its integrity over time.

Also, it’s a good idea to safeguard your tools from environmental variables like humidity and temperature, as these can impact their longevity.

5 Mistakes to Avoid in PMU Tool Maintenance

To become a master in PMU tool maintenance, you also need to understand what pitfalls to steer clear of.

Avoiding common mistakes extends the lifespan of your tools and upholds the highest standards of hygiene in your PMU practice.

Let’s check out the key mistakes:

#1 Neglecting Regular Cleaning

Establish a consistent cleaning routine to prevent the buildup of pigments and contaminants on your tools.

#2 Using Incorrect Cleaning Products

Choose industry-approved cleaning solutions to ensure effective and safe cleaning without compromising the integrity of your tools.

#3 Rushing the Cleaning Process

Allocate sufficient time for a thorough cleaning process, ensuring each tool receives the attention it deserves.

#4 Neglecting Drying Procedures

Allow tools to air-dry completely before storing them in containers to prevent the growth of bacteria or mold.

#5 Overlooking Hard-to-Reach Areas

Pay attention to intricate or hard-to-reach areas to ensure thorough cleaning and prevent the accumulation of residues.

Key Takeaways

Remember, the key to successful permanent makeup lies in regular cleaning and timely tool replacement.

These simple practices ensure a clean, safe, and satisfying PMU experience for both you and your clients.

So, prioritize the care of your tools, not just as a professional duty, but as a way to build trust and excel in your art!

Cover image source: Freepik



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