How to Sanitize Your At-Home Nail Tools, According to Experts

hands buffing nails


Visiting the nail salon for a manicure or pedicure is a beautiful luxury, but learning to do them at home can be equally luxe and offers plenty of benefits. It's cheaper, saves time, and gives your nails a refresh whenever you want. But there's one aspect of home nail care that many people overlook: sanitizing your nail tools.

Clean nail tools are crucial when visiting a salon to avoid spreading bacteria and infections—but you must also clean them at home. "It is important to clean and sanitize nail tools to prevent bacteria and minimize the spread of infections," explains Amy Ling Lin, CEO & founder of sundays. If your nail tools aren't sanitized properly—or at all—this can lead to problems like infections and fungus.

If you're new to the world of nail tool cleaning and sanitizing and are not sure where to start, here's how to sanitize your nail tools with advice straight from professionals:

Meet the Expert

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Nail Files

A common way to clean nail files is by washing them under hot water. But there's one problem here: Most nail files are porous and shouldn't be reused.

"A porous environment allows bacteria to live and grow on and inside of it, which can then be transferred to other people or even from your toes to your fingers," Hilton says. One way to avoid the potential issues that come with using porous nail files is to use a glass nail file instead. "At sundays, we offer glass nail files with our online nail kits, which are easier to wash and last longer," Lin says. "If you wish to disinfect your glass file, boil it in hot water for approximately 30 minutes to kill off any bacteria." 

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Nail Clippers

You have a few options to clean your nail clippers, including boiling them or soaking them in rubbing alcohol or peroxide."Nail clippers can be disinfected by soaking for 30 minutes with rubbing alcohol (at least 70%) or hydrogen peroxide," Lin says. "You can also boil your nail clippers in water for approximately 30 minutes."

At a salon, nail clippers are often cleaned with soap and water and then sanitized in a hospital-grade disinfectant. Frenchies Modern Nail Care adds an additional step of running nail clippers through a medical-grade sterilizing device, Hilton explains.

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Cuticle Pushers

Cuticle pushers should be disinfected as you disinfect nail clippers and other tools. "Cuticle pushers can be disinfected by soaking for about 30 minutes with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide," Lin says. "You can also boil your cuticle pushers in water for half an hour."

Another option for cleaning your cuticle pushers—or nearly any other type of nail tool at home—is to scrub the tool with soap and water and then wipe down or spray it with rubbing alcohol, Hilton says.

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Cuticle Clippers

You should clean cuticle clippers like nail clippers, cuticle pushers, and other tools. You'll want to boil them for 30 minutes, soak them with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, or wash them with soap and water before wiping them down with rubbing alcohol.

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Nail Scissors

Nail scissors should be cleaned and disinfected using the same processes outlined for cuticle clippers and other nail tools. "Nail scissors can be disinfected by soaking with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide," Lin says. You can boil your nail scissors in water for 30 minutes, cleanse them with soap and wipe them down with rubbing alcohol.

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Nail Tweezers

You can clean your nail tweezers just like you would clean other nail tools like clippers and scissors. You can follow any of the previously outlined methods of boiling or soaking with hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol. 

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Nail Buffers

Like nail files, nail buffers are typically porous and shouldn't be reused. Reusing porous items like nail files and nail buffers could cause problems with harmful bacteria. "At Frenchies, our guests can take home the nail buffer we used for their service, or we discard it," Hilton says. "If you reuse these porous tools at home, be sure to wipe them down and then spray them with rubbing alcohol to minimize the transfer of bacteria. 

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Any other nail tools you use

If you use any other nail tools while doing your nails at home, make sure to clean and sanitize them as well. "Any implement used during a service should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized," Hilton says. "For example, nail brushes that are used should always be properly cleaned as well as placed in a disinfectant solution. These small brushes are often overlooked."

Cleaning your nail tools at home is extremely important but also simple. You can clean most nail tools like nail clippers, tweezers, and scissors by boiling, soaking, washing, and then wiping down with rubbing alcohol. You'll want to be more careful with porous tools like nail files and buffers. Because these items can hold and spread bacteria, it's best to use them sparingly.

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