In Good Hands

5 Cleaning and Disinfection Tips

By Siobhain Sweetingham

Key Point

• Proper cleaning before and after sessions creates a safe work environment and lets clients know they are entering a disinfected space, creating peace of mind.

When creating a welcoming and healing massage environment, effective infection prevention measures are the cornerstone. Let’s take a moment to refresh five key cleaning and disinfection tips to keep in mind when preparing your space for clients.  

1. Pathogens You Need to Know

As a practitioner, you may encounter a range of microorganisms capable of causing disease and infection when interacting with clients. The viruses you may face range from cold and flu viruses to blood-borne pathogens and the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.

As for bacteria, these microscopic organisms also pose potential threats. For example, Staphylococcus aureus, capable of causing severe skin infections, is commonly found in massage settings. Also, parasitic fungi can lead to skin infections such as athlete’s foot, ringworm, and nail fungus. The presence of these germs highlights the need to select an effective virucidal, bactericidal, and fungicidal disinfectant with those claims on the label.

2. The Importance of Disinfection

Cleaning and sanitizing are common terms that some people mistakenly use to describe disinfection, but they are not interchangeable. Cleaning is the process of removing dirt and debris with detergents or one-step cleanser disinfectants. While necessary, cleaning only prepares the surface for disinfection, so beware—pathogens may still linger on surfaces that have only been cleaned. The term sanitizing only refers to reducing the number of bacteria.

Disinfection is what you should be looking to achieve for your surfaces and equipment because it includes effectiveness against bacteria, fungi, and viruses. In the US, state boards provide guidelines related to facility management, best practices, and disinfection requirements. These guidelines must be followed to ensure health inspection readiness and, most importantly, the protection of you and your clients. However, the potential consequences of a breakdown in processes extend beyond health risks, with the threat of impacting your business’ reputation. Neglecting proper cleaning and disinfection measures may lead to health violations, fines, and negative online reviews. Maintaining a clean, safe space is not just a regulatory requirement; it is a fundamental aspect of sustaining a respected practice.

3. Choosing the Right Disinfectant

When selecting an ideal disinfectant, you should first look for a product that is EPA-registered and possesses hospital-grade efficacy, ensuring it meets professional standards. Next, look for contact time, which is how long a surface must remain wet to disinfect it. For example, a solution with a contact time of one minute is beneficial, as it ensures faster treatment room turnover. Relating to efficiency, ready-to-use or wipe disinfectants further help simplify your processes compared to concentrates, which require dilution.

Even though disinfectants are intended to provide a safer environment, some come with potentially negative health consequences. Therefore, prioritize using a disinfectant that is nonirritating to the eyes and skin to ensure the well-being of you, your team, and your clients. The best way to assess safety is to reference the product’s Safety Data Sheet, which provides an overview of any potential health hazards and precautions. These can often be found on the product manufacturer’s website.

Finally, with your investments in quality massage tables and other equipment, remember to avoid products that may lead to drying, such as those containing high levels of alcohol. More compatible ingredients, such as hydrogen peroxide, will help maintain the longevity of your furnishings. 

4. Protocols Done Right

During busy times, consistently putting protocols into practice is something that can be easy to let slip. After each client, thorough disinfection of treatment surfaces and larger equipment, including massage beds, face cradles, bolsters, and other high-touch areas, is essential. If you use linens on your massage beds, remember that this does not replace the need for disinfection between each treatment, since linens do not protect against all pathogens or body oils. Furthermore, any disposable or single-use protectors/covers should be replaced after every client. Reusable covers are ideal, since you can clean and disinfect them after every service, reducing waste.

The scope of your required protocols also extends to handheld equipment such as massage stones and body cups. Specific recommendations for handheld equipment include pre-cleaning to remove excessive oils (if used for the treatment) followed by spraying or wiping with disinfectant. Allow the equipment to stay wet for the contact time to achieve full disinfection. It’s also important to keep handheld equipment in a clean, labeled container to prevent cross contamination between dirty and clean items. 

5. Earning and Sharing Your Knowledge

Beyond implementation, you should aim to actively share your knowledge and the efforts you take to keep your clients safe. Practical steps include printing relevant handwashing and disinfection procedures and strategically placing them in clean areas or near sinks for easy reference. You may also wish to take online certifications offered by disinfectant manufacturers and display your credentials in treatment rooms and waiting areas. Remember to connect with industry experts on new technologies and practices to improve your business. Take the time to promote the steps you take to keep your staff and patrons safe, such as displaying tent cards or window clings on recently disinfected surfaces. You can also share your cleaning and disinfection practices on your website under the “About Us” section. Education is a great way to set your business apart from the rest. 

With these tips in mind, you’ll instill confidence in your clients that their health is in good hands and that you are dedicated to ensuring a safe environment. 

Siobhain Sweetingham has more than seven years of experience in infection prevention and related educational content with Prevention Disinfectants by Virox Technologies, promoting disinfection best practices. She holds a certificate in Infection Prevention and Control from Queen’s University and received her bachelor’s degree in microbiology honors from the University of Guelph.