By Lisa Sigell

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — You’ve heard the horror stories. You’ve seen the scary staph infection photos. So how do you know if your favorite nail salon is clean?

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Robbie Schaeffer of OPI Nail Care and has a list of do’s and don’ts.

Schaeffer says do trust your instincts. If the chemical smells are overpowering, chances are the salon is using banned products.

“When you walk into any salon, look around. What does your gut tell you?” asks Schaeffer. “If you see something that’s out of the norm, it’s time to leave.”

He also encourages mani-pedi clients not to be afraid to ask a salon how they clean their instruments.

Older pedicure chairs often have filters on their tubs. Schaeffer says ask when those filters were cleaned. If not tended to properly, filters may get clogged with skin particles and debris from other clients. If that makes its way into your clean water, someone else’s bacteria becomes your problem.

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Fan of the upgrades? Schaeffer warns if you spring for callous removal, never get them shaved with a razor-like device. The process is illegal in most states, including California.

“It increases your chance of getting an infection,” says Schaeffer. “You could cut yourself badly if it’s used improperly.”

Schaeffer also advises against shaving your legs before a pedicure.

“You might cut yourself,” Sachaeffer says. “You might have a small abrasion that you can’t see. You might get into a pedicure chair, and you don’t know if it’s been cleaned properly, and your chances of infection just went up ten fold.”

Finally, it may seem like the safest route but Schaeffer says don’t bother bringing your own tool kit. Salons are required to sterilize their tools, and clients who bring their own often fail to clean them properly between services. This creates a breeding ground for bacteria.

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If you insist on the bring your own approach, be sure to wash the utensils with soap and water, then soak in disinfectant for at least 10 minutes.