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Do barbershops and haircut salons sterilize their scissors between customers?

When was the last time you got your hair cut?

So you went to the salon of your choice (or local barbershop, or Hair Cuttery, Great Clips, Supercuts, Fantastic Sam’s, or even the neighbor down the street who happens to have the only working Flowbee in the surrounding 100 miles).  You sit down in the chair and settle in for your haircut.

And no matter what you pay, whether it be free, $9, $14, $45, or $150 — you all experience the same thing as you watch your Hair Professional pick up their trusty pair of scissors off their counter and approach your head with their fingers of steel…

“Did they sterilize those scissors after their last customer?”

Brush Sanitizer
Brush Sanitizer

Chances are, they didn’t.

We’re just saying — if they did, Web Watch would have noticed and we wouldn’t be writing this up.


  • If hair brushes are used, there shall be a minimum of four brushes per barber chair. Hair brushes shall be cleaned and sterilized after each customer use.
  • All tools used on a customer shall be cleaned and sterilized before each customer use.
  • Combs shall be cleaned after each customer use;
  • All razors, scissors, clippers, tweezers, combs, rubber discs, and all other implements, tools, appliances and utensils that come in contact with the head, neck or face of a patron, should be disinfected before use upon any patron. No tools/implements should be left exposed on the workstation at any time but should be cleaned, disinfected, and placed in a clean, closed drawer or cabinet whenever such tools are not in use or in the process of being sterilized.

See folks?  It’s the law — at least, in South Dakota — that your hair stylist isn’t supposed to just wipe those scissors on the towel sitting on the counter before they begin cutting your hair.

Spraying the electric razor with a disinfectent is occasionally practiced, but not always done.

And apparently, Web Watch isn’t the only one who’s noticed this.

  • From EVERYTHING YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT SHEARS FOR HAIR: Putting the comb/scissors down on the counter and picking them back up does NOT count as sterilizing them
  • From HEALTH-E WOMAN: Customers might have open areas or cracks in their scalps. Crusts, scales and lice can attach to combs and brushes and easily transmit infection or infestation to the next unwitting patron.  In 1989, a warning was sounded that barber scissors and razors contaminated with blood can pass along HIV. However, no cases of accidental HIV transmission have been documented through the activities of barbers….  Cuts, nicks, and scrapes at the beauty salon or barber shop are far more likely to lead to other, less deadly conditions for both clients and shop operators, including warts, bacterial and fungus infections and reactions to various products and fumes.

Oh, there are others.

So what should you do if you happen to look over and see some random extra hairs on the scissors, combs, or brushes as your stylist approaches you?

Well, you could ask them if they have a set of fresh tools available.  They may look at you funny, as if they have no idea what you’re talking about.  But they’ll get over that real fast if you get up from the chair before they’ve even begin cutting your hair with those dirty pieces of equipment.   No money coming in will definitely make a difference between sterilization vs non-sterilization.

So what happened to you the last time you went in for a haircut?  Did you notice anything a bit… unusual… yourself?  Share your experience in the comments below…

2 replies on “Do barbershops and haircut salons sterilize their scissors between customers?”

I have been a Great Clips customer in Il. for 15 years. I experienced a slight painful rash on the back of my neck once, about 10 years ago. I often wonder what did the stylist do to sterilize their clippers, I did not want to insult anyone by asking.

In my opinion, people concerned about hygiene should only patronize barber shops/stylist where they can see that the scissors and combs are already immersed in Barbicide (I’m assuming the Barbicide will kill anything harmful within a few seconds or minutes of contact? Can anyone confirm this?).

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