How to Clean & Disinfect a Derma Roller the Right Way

Learn the safest way to disinfect your derma roller for a pristine application every time.

Published June 2, 2023
man with a derma roller

You don't always have the time to work a dermatology appointment into your schedule, but at-home serums and creams can only do so much. That's where tools like derma rollers come in. They can give you the boost your skin needs for a fraction of the cost without having to leave your living room. But when you're pricking tiny holes in your face, you want to make sure you've got a tool that's as germ free as possible. If you don't already know, it's time to learn how to clean a derma roller.

How to Clean a Derma Roller in 3 Steps

Derma rollers are microneedling tools that use teeny needles to prick the skin to promote healing and increase collagen production to those areas. For many years, you could only get microneedling done by a licensed esthetician or dermatologist, but over-the-counter derma rollers let you try microneedling at home.

While it can be cost effective, you might not see as many results because the needles aren't as long as the ones professionals use and can't puncture the skin as deeply. However, every prick of the skin is something to take seriously. You don't rub a cat scratch or iron burn all over your crumb-ridden carpet, so you shouldn't take an unclean tool to your face.

One of the most recommended ways to keep your derma roller clean is soaking it in isopropyl alcohol.

Materials You'll Need

To clean a derma roller at home, you're going to need:

  • 70% isopropyl alcohol (or higher)
  • Clean bowl or cup
  • Clean towel


It only takes a few steps to disinfect your derma roller.

  1. Pour enough isopropyl alcohol in a bowl or cup to fully cover the needle portion of your derma roller.
  2. Submerge the derma roller in the isopropyl alcohol for about 15 minutes.
  3. Take it out and set it on a towel with the needles pointing up to dry.

You should follow this before and after each use, which shouldn't be more than two times a week. As we all know, there can definitely be too much of a good thing.

Quick Tip

Take the time while cleaning to look at your needles. Are they bent, broken, or dull looking? Anything less than super sharp needles needs to be replaced, since damaged needles will tear into your skin.

Don't Have Isopropyl Alcohol on Hand? Don't Substitute

You've prepped your bathroom counter to derma roll your face, but you can't find any isopropyl alcohol. Don't grab the first thing on the counter you've got access to! Many of these 'hacks' won't make your derma roller sterile enough, and here's why:

  • Soapy water - While soapy water can get rid of dirt, dead skin, and oils, it's not strong enough to get rid of all the bacteria. Water also has bacteria in it that you might not want to transfer under the skin.
  • Denture tablets - Denture tablets' bubbling effects might help work the dead skin and oils out of your roller, but it won't completely disinfect it.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide - A common misconception is that you can substitute hydrogen peroxide for isopropyl alcohol in any situation, but that's not true. Higher grade peroxide can damage plastics, which most derma roller handles are made out of.
  • Boiling water - Boiling water can disinfect your derma roller, but most of them have plastic handles which will melt. That kind of defeats the purpose of cleaning it, huh?

The important takeaway is that derma rollers are punching holes in your skin that are open to bacteria and infection. If you don't completely disinfect your tool in a way that's suitable for a surgery suite, then you're putting every one of those open wounds at risk of getting infected. Don't transfer bacteria into your face or body just because you didn't want to walk to the cabinet to get the rubbing alcohol.

Consider These Buying Tips to Make Cleaning Easier

Cleaning can only do half the job. Make your life easier by picking out derma rollers that are suited for cleaning and less likely to grow bacteria. When you're browsing online for one, consider these buying tips.

  • Look for ones with airtight covers/containers. You don't want your derma roller to stay wet (that promotes bacteria growth), so keeping it in an airtight container between uses can help keep moisture out.
  • Look for needles made out of surgical-grade titanium. Surgical-grade titanium is the safest metal you can use when pricking your skin. It's why the most expensive and high-quality piercing jewelry is made out of surgical-grade titanium.
  • See if you can find one with a detachable head. If you can detach the head from the handle, you can use less alcohol and take up less space to clean it. It also lets every nook and cranny get fully submerged.

Take Cleaning Your Derma Roller Seriously

We've all forgotten to wash off our gua sha tool, and besides a few unwanted blemishes, there's no real harm done. Not properly disinfecting your derma roller can pose a serious danger to your face and body. Putting a hole in your skin isn't something to take lightly, and to get the best results, you need to have the best (and cleanest) tools available. And that means cleaning your derma roller before and after every use with isopropyl alcohol. Don't worry, it'll become like second nature before you know it!

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How to Clean & Disinfect a Derma Roller the Right Way