Tattoo Needles: A selection of needles & cartridges for tattooing

Expired Tattoo Needles & Why You Definitely Shouldn’t Use Them

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It’s the tattooist’s responsibility to ensure every client has a safe tattoo experience.

Throughout the tattooing process there are multiple points at which the client may come into contact with viruses and bacteria, especially when the skin is broken. It is imperative to ensure that the equipment and environment are as sterile as possible, with needles playing a large part in this.

Something that some aren’t aware of though, is that tattoo needles actually have an expiry date. By ‘expiry’ we do not mean that the needle itself will expire but that the sterilisation process the needles go through is in itself time sensitive. All tattoo needles have an expiry date on their packaging and if you are thinking about using them past this date, you definitely shouldn’t.

At Barber DTS, we want to provide the best information for our products. This blog will explain what expiry dates mean with regards to tattoo needles, why they’re sterilised in the first place and most importantly – why not to use expired tattoo needles.

A selection of tattoo needles

Why are tattoo needles sterilised?

The process of sterilisation is making an object or surface free of germs and bacteria. This is to ensure that tattooing can happen without putting the client at risk of viruses such as Hepatitis, HIV or MRSA.

Of course, tattoo needles are simply one part of the process. Surfaces, floors and equipment also need to be appropriately sterilised and the correct equipment utilised. A valid health inspection report is also needed alongside excellent levels of cleanliness.

Tattoo needle packaging focussing on their expiry date

Why you shouldn’t use an expired tattoo needle

Once the expiry date on a tattoo needle has passed, the needle is no longer able to protect against viruses or bacteria. If you use an expired needle when tattooing your client you could risk them contracting a virus or bacteria, and becoming ill as a result.

The expiry date on a tattoo needle is the date when the sterilisation for that individual needle is no longer valid. This means your needle needs to be re-sterilised before you use it, but your safest bet is to throw away the needle and use an in-date sterilised one.

Not only should the health and safety of your clients be your first priority, but a client contracting a virus or bacteria as a result of expired needles could result in severe consequences for your business.

It’s also important to note that tattoo needles should only be used once, especially when tattooing different people. When you’re done with your tattoo needle, make sure you dispose of it in a sharps container that is marked ‘hazardous material’.

Sharps bins enable the safe storage and disposal of sharps waste. The bins are puncture resistant and leak proof with a colour coded system to ensure that the waste is separated correctly for disposal. Companies providing sharps bins can work with you to identify the correct bin type, and also the frequency of sharps collection depending on your studio’s size and frequency.

Tattoo cartridges and their packaging highlighting the expiry date


If you are in possession of tattoo needles that have passed their expiry date, it’s not worth risking your business or the safety of your clients by using them – simply throw them in the bin.

Here at Barber DTS, we have a range of tattoo needles and cartridges available to purchase, readily sterilised. From our own renowned Barber DTS range, and CNC, to the more specialised ranges of Revolution and Envy, you’ll be able to pick quality-assured, sterilised needles through our website in just a few clicks.

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Meet Our Experts

Chris Harrison Tattoo Artist

Chris Harrison

Bridgend Tattoo Studio

Bridgend, South Wales, UK

Sneaky-Mitch, tattooist at Gold Room Tattoo, Leeds, UK


Gold Room Tattoo

Leeds, UK

Tito Inkid

L’Atelier Sans Nom

Armentières, France

Lianne Moule

Immortal Ink
Chelmsford, UK

Julian ‘Corpsepainter’ Siebert

Corpse Painter Tattoo
Munich, Germany

Alex Rattray

Empire Ink
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

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