Massage & Bodywork

JULY | AUGUST 2017

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digital extra Laundry Protocols Ruth Werner, author of A Massage Therapist's Guide to Pathology (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2016) and Pathology Perspectives columnist for Massage & Bodywork, offers this great advice on standard laundry protocols for massage therapists and bodyworkers. Does this meet with how you treat your massage table sheets and linens after a typical session? 1. Standard laundering has good antimicrobial effects with water temperatures between 71°F–77°F (21.6°C–25°C), if the detergent is used according to the manufacturer's directions. This is adequate for most situations. 2. Chlorine bleach will wear out fabrics, and, of course, it is not appropriate for colors. However, nonchlorine bleach is only a color booster: it does NOT have antimicrobial action. 3. If chlorine bleach is added to the wash, it becomes most active at temperatures above 135°F (57.2°C). Most home hot water heaters heat water to 120°F–140°F (48.8°C–60°C), so bleach in a home washing machine may not always reach its full antimicrobial potential. 4. The recommended amount of bleach is a ratio of 50 to 150 parts per million (ppm); 150 ppm of bleach in a standard top-loading washing machine with a 40-gallon tub is 8 ounces of bleach per load. In a front-loading washing machine with a 24-gallon tub, it is 4.8 ounces. 5. Bleached laundry must be thoroughly rinsed (professional laundry services do this at least twice) to minimize irritation to users. 6. Laundry must not be left damp: mildew can begin growing within 24 hours. 7. All laundry should be dried on high heat (160°F, 71.1°C). Ironing adds extra antimicrobial action, but this is probably not a practical suggestion for most massage therapists. 8. Clean laundry must be packaged to keep it clean until its next use. It should be wrapped in plastic or stored in a clean, closed container (and never dumped on the floor).

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