clean massage table

A massage therapy table and its accessories could become potentially contaminated surfaces during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This business equipment has two individuals (the client and practitioner) breathing directly over and upon it for extended periods of time. As such, it should be thoroughly sanitized between users.

In this article, we will review how to properly sanitize a massage therapy table and table accessories, which include table bolsters and face cradle equipment.

1. Strip Your Table of Unnecessary Items. Remove all reusable items that cannot be laundered or sanitized between clients, such as table skirts or heating pads, and do not use them during the pandemic. 

The goal is to eliminate unnecessary items that could harbor virus or bacteria within the establishment.  Fabrics that are in close contact to an individual’s airway for an extended period could harbor germs hence they should be removed from the treatment room if they are not essential to use.

2. Protect Yourself When Removing Linens and Sanitizing. Open any windows or doors and engage any air filtration or ventilation sources prior to using commercial sanitizing products that are not already in use.  Wear a facial covering and gloves when removing all bodywork linens and place items in a sealed container for laundering. This includes blankets, sheets, covers and towels. Do not reuse any linen on clients.

Facial coverings and gloves will help protect a user’s skin and airway from chemical sanitizer exposure and provide minimal protection from contaminated linens or surfaces.

3. Launder Correctly. When laundering items prior to redressing the table, be sure to use the hot water setting on the washer and the high heat setting on the dryer, plus ensure that all laundry is thoroughly dried after washing with detergent. One of the best ways to reduce germs from laundry is through high heat temperatures. Use a laundry machine’s sanitize setting if it is available and bleach with laundry detergent if the linens can be bleached.  Wash hands prior to handling clean laundry or redressing the table.

4. Clean Your Table. Wash the table and all table accessory surfaces with soap and water then rinse and dry after removing the linens. The goal is to remove debris from a surface prior to disinfection.  Disinfection is not effective on a dirty surface therefore washing is required first.  Rinse a newly cleaned surface with a wet paper towel then dry the surface with a dry paper towel or allow it to air dry prior to applying a disinfectant.

Provide extra attention to any surface that a client has directly breathed, sneezed or coughed upon. That means be thorough with any bars and handles of the face cradle, face cushion and top of the table.

5. Disinfect Everything, Including Accessories. Apply a disinfectant to all table surfaces, legs, knobs, pegs, handles, bolsters and any remote controls used for table adjustments. Do the same for the face cradle, face cushion and any accessories in between. Keep all sanitizer items in a sealed receptacle before and after use.

If the table has a hole for a client’s head instead of a separate face cradle, be sure to thoroughly wash and disinfect all surfaces inside, underneath and around the face hole.

6. Employ Contact Time. Allow proper contact time for the disinfectant to work prior to redressing the table or table accessories. Most disinfectants require several minutes of contact time (also known as dwell time) for efficacy. Read and follow the manufacturer’s labelled instructions on a disinfectant. The disinfectant’s label is the law.

7. Alternate Face Cradle Cushions. Consider using two separate face cradles and face cushions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Practitioners can alternate face cushion equipment with every new client to help minimize exposure when this equipment is employed with the table.

Helpful Links

Here are some more helpful COVID-19 informational links for massage staff and establishment owners:

6 Steps for Safe and Effective Disinfectant Use, from the EPA

Disinfectants for Coronavirus (COVID-19), from the EPA (Be vigilant when viewing the EPA website list of disinfectants and heed all instructions or warnings with each.)

•General Business Frequently Asked Questions, from the CDC

•How to Remove Gloves, from the CDC

Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Healthcare Personnel During the Coronavirus Disease COVID-19 Pandemic, from the CDC

The best way to prevent the acquisition or transmission of COVID-19 is to self-isolate. But if you must work during the pandemic, consider utilizing additional protection measures such as a client health intake form that includes specific COVID-19 screening. 

About the Author:

Selena Belisle is the founder of CE Institute LLC in Miami, Florida. She has been practicing massage therapy for over 30 years and is approved as a continuing education provider by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork and multiple state boards in the bodywork and cosmetology industries.