The flat-out truth about massage sheets

By Abram Herman
[Tell Me...]

The sheets your clients lie on are the first tactile experience of every massage—are yours sending the right first impression?


“I wish that I was made aware to always buy quality. A cheaper sheet may pill or wear out faster, where a higher quality sheet retains its softness and will be longer lasting.” Anne Milewski, Michigan


“I use flannel or microflannel and only in solid colors. I refuse to work without a table warmer and fleece pad under the sheets, and it’s essential to use a fitted face cradle cover with a fleece cover under it. I want my clients to feel warm and cozy.”

Anna Kimpel, Ohio


We heard mixed opinions on what kind of sheets to buy—flannel can be much more comfortable for the client, but Lisa Telthorst of Missouri says, “They tend to pill and become rough after three or four washings,” so they may not last as long as other options.


“One tip I got early on is to buy sheets made with Pima cotton. Pima cotton has a longer fiber length than cheaper cotton varieties and therefore holds up better to repeated washings.”

Aaron Allen, Oregon


We heard from several people that their strategy is to wait for end-of-season sales or Black Friday deals at high-end department stores, and stock up for the whole year. You can save a lot of money on expensive sheets just by shopping at the right time.

Microfiber, bamboo, and high thread count sheets are typically more expensive, but will last longer and still feel nice for the client.


Did You Know?

Consumer Reports tested 23 sets of queen-sized sheets in May 2010 and only recommended four of them. Sheets that didn’t make the cut included those with artificially-high thread counts derived by counting multi-ply yarns as more than one thread, a practice that the Federal Trade Commission calls “deceptive.”


It seems like a no-brainer to most, but remember to always use fresh sheets for every client. Why? A grossed-out client is not going to be a repeat client. “Where I was trained, it was required by law that sheets should be laundered between clients. I would expect nothing less,” says Jill Nelson from Washington, D.C.

Far more important than the “ick” factor is that “certain [diseases] can be passed from one client to the next … we can’t know if they have active infections,” says Sharin Lambert of Texas.

And don’t forget your own safety—if not washed properly, the oils in your sheets can build up and possibly even cause a dryer fire. Not to mention they’ll get pretty stinky and unpleasant when embedded oils start to go rancid.



“Color is important and should be inviting to the senses,” says Jacqueline Lander in Illinois. Think about the impression your sheets convey. Judy Watkins in Florida says she tries to “avoid striped or flowery sheets to prevent clients from feeling the sheets are too feminine, masculine, or childish.”

“I have observed that lighter sheets show oil a lot less, so I avoid dark sheets.” Nancy McCarthy, Arizona


“Some oils, grape seed for one, have a very short shelf life and do not come completely out of your sheets, and when it turns, your sheets smell bad!” Sharin Lambert, Texas

“Once you start a laundering pattern, keep with it. Too many changes give an inconsistent vibe to your clients.” Michelle Alexander-Batac, California

“Buy all flat sheets. They’re easier/quicker to fold and take up less space in storage.” MaryPat Payne, Illinois

“Twin XL sheets fit over pillows and bolsters.” Peggy Gray, Colorado

“The knit bags that jersey sheets come in can be used to hold rice bags/hot packs.”
Beth Powers Johnson, Virginia