July 14, 2020 3 min read

The Hidden Dangers Lurking in That Massage Towel

Anyone with a massage, beauty or physical therapy based business knows that towels are an essential part of their clinic. There is really no way to work without them, and don’t even start on the endless hours of laundry they provide. But, when it comes to ideal environments for breeding bacteria, towels are pretty much a 5-star hotel. Warm, absorbent and often damp, towels hold on to anything they come in contact with — from harmless skin flora, to infectious diseases.

If you think you are already washing them properly, the fact is that stubborn germs will often remain. Even hospital grade laundering doesn’t remove 100% of pathogens from towels. Best practice would be eradicating towels from your clinic altogether. Where possible, single-use products should always be the first choice, however, there will always be some areas where towels are the only option, in this case there is definitely a ‘right way’ to wash them.

Start With a Clean Machine

Who cleans the cleaner? If the answer is no-one then that’s not doing your towels any favours. Grime and scum build-up are definitely a real thing and not a marketing ploy to make you buy more cleaning products. So, pick up a good quality washing machine cleaner from the laundry aisle and give your machine a nice trip to the appliance day spa. It’s also good to note that while both types of machine attract grime build-up over time, front loaders are more prone due to less water being used during their cycles. They can also have mildew problems as water can sit in the bottom of the machine after use. This can result in towels that smell damp and musty.

Boil and Bleach

Hot water and chlorine bleach are your go-to team for properly sanitising those manky massage towels. Make sure you are selecting the hottest wash cycle on your washing machine. If your machine doesn’t reach at least 70 degrees, it’s time to upgrade to one that does.

Don’t overload your machine, towels are considered a bulky item and if they can’t move around freely within the machine, they won’t come out clean or sanitised.

Bleach should be measured out according to the instructions — amounts can vary due to load size and machine size so it’s best to follow the manufacturer's guidelines. If towels are white it’s OK to use regular bleach but if you have coloured towels choose a bleach that is colour safe. When you have diluted the bleach accordingly, carefully add it to the washing machine during the agitation cycle. Some machines have a bleach inlet that you can pour the solution directly into, otherwise just pour it into the washing machine drum. For front loader machines, add the bleach directly to the bleach dispenser in the drawer. For a fuss-free alternative that works with all machines you could also use bleach tablets.

Good Things Take Time

Wash cycle times are important too. Choose at least a 90-minute cycle to give the hot water and bleach enough time to do its thing. Then of course, when the towels are finished take them out of the machine straight away — leaving them in a warm, wet environment is simply undoing all the hard work the bleach has just done! Use the hot cycle on your dryer to dry the towels as this will further eradicate any bacteria and has the added benefit of fluffing the fibres.

Hanging towels in direct sunlight is also beneficial as the sun is a natural disinfectant — the UV rays from the sun damage the DNA of bacteria making them unable to grow and reproduce. However, it is also important to consider where you are hanging the towels as dust and pollen can wreak havoc for allergy sufferers, and towels hung outside are also susceptible to mould spores, dirt, bird faeces and insects.

Massage towels are a necessary item in any clinic environment from therapeutic to physiotherapy and beauty salons. By following these simple steps, you can ensure you are always providing your clients with more hygienic towels for use during treatment.

To further protect your clients during treatment, the most hygienic solution is to always use single-use products, such as a bedsheet (take a look at our BodyShield in action), a headrest barrier that covers 100% of the face hole contact surface (just like our FaceShield) and a recyclable pillowcase (like our recently launched PillowGuard Recyclable).

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