In this time when a pathogen can spread disease around the globe in a matter of weeks or from one person to another in a matter of seconds, there is no doubt impeccable disinfection is required in every health care setting, including massage practices.
Pathogens can spread through skin contact, bodily fluids, airborne particles and by coming into contact with a surface touched by an infected person. Such pathogens include viruses, bacteria and fungi. In the virus category alone live the pathogens that can spread the common cold, flu and COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic focused attention on the need for unerring sanitary procedures within the massage industry.
Enter Virox, a sustainable infection-prevention innovator that is on a mission to educate massage therapists and salon professionals on how quickly and effectively they can remove pathogens. The company was founded in 1998 and is headquartered in Ontario, Canada.
Virox products are available throughout the U.S. and Canada and include its new line called Prevention, with disinfection wipes and a spray formulated to meet massage therapists’ need for a product that is safe for people, equipment and the environment.
Here, Virox’s senior director of sales and marketing, Dan Woolford, discusses how the company’s products are evolving to keep up with ever-changing pathogens, why the new Prevention formula performs better than its predecessor, Virox’s Rejuvenate line, and the company’s focus on safety and sustainability.
The Current Formulation
At the time Virox was founded, and still today, the predominant form of disinfection technology involved quaternary ammonium compounds (QUAT). These compounds have a very long contact time—meaning the amount of time the product needs to be in contact with a surface in order for disinfection to take place—do not have a very favorable safety profile, and can have an adverse effect on the environment, said Woolford.
Virox introduced its trademarked Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide, a chemical synergy containing commonly used safe ingredients that when combined with low levels of hydrogen peroxide is tough on pathogens but gentle on the user and the planet. AHP technology is relied on in several industries across the globe, including health care and veterinary. AHP technology powered Rejuvenate and now powers Prevention.
“Prevention is version 2.0, an enhanced formula with better efficacy across the board—but it still comes with that same favorable safety profile and that same environmental preferability as Rejuvenate,” Woolford said. Prevention is a ready-to-use formula, meaning it requires no mixing or dilution.
Every disinfectant requires a certain contact time. Virox’s former salon and beauty line, Rejuvenate, had a one-minute contact time for viruses and bacteria, a five-minute contact time for tuberculosis and a 10-minute contact time for fungi, said Woolford. Prevention’s contact time is just one minute for all those pathogens.
How did Virox make that reduction in contact time possible? Woolford said it comes down to nuanced changes in the way ingredients work together.
That one-minute contact time is essential. “You see all these consumer-based commercials where there’s the glorified disinfectants being sprayed on various surfaces within a house or within a commercial setting and it’s led to this belief that disinfectants kill on contact, and it’s just not accurate,” said Woolford.
Eliminating dangerous pathogens via full coverage and full contact time are two ways a massage session room becomes a safe environment. Another aspect of Prevention’s safety is mixed into its formulation.
Safe for People
The Environmental Protection Agency rates pesticidal products, a category that disinfecting products are in, from 1 to 4, with 1 being the least safe and 4 being safest, said Woolford.
“We all know what a bottle of bleach smells like when you pop the top off a bottle, and we also all know what it’s like to interact with heavily based alcohol products—and what that can do to our skin, and the occupational health hazards,” he said. “The Prevention line of products is rated a 4, meaning it’s among the class of the safest products, so there are no irritability concerns, there’s no requirement to wear PPE, and then we have no irritation, no occupational health hazards.”
This was a crucial target for Virox to hit, said Woolford, because not every massage, wellness or beauty practitioner receives the level of training a medical provider does. Virox’s team wanted to provide a disinfectant technology that would allow all practitioners to disinfect effectively and efficiently, and that carried that “4” safety rating.
Safe for Products
Massage tables and chairs represent a financial investment, and one or both are cornerstones of a massage practice. The vinyl that covers this equipment can break down when cleaned with alcohol or other formulations.
Virox has tested its Prevention disinfectant wipes and spray on many types of vinyl used in the massage industry. Woolford said the product’s AHP formula will not cause vinyl to degrade. “Having a chemistry that’s actually compatible with the surfaces found within a spa or salon, we feel, is very important,” he said.
In addition to vinyl, Prevention can clean such massage-practice tools as stones and other handheld equipment. Door handles, point-of-sale machines and any other frequently touched surfaces should also be disinfected regularly.
Safe for the Planet
Today’s consumers want to know that products, including cleaning products, are eco-friendly. One study conducted in 2023 and reported on by GlobeNewsWire indicated that growing concerns about the effects of harsh chemicals on the environment are driving demand for environmentally friendly cleaning products.
Another survey, The Nielsen Global Home-Care Survey of 30,000 people worldwide, found that consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impacts cleaning products containing harsh chemicals can have, and “as awareness spreads, so does the use of green or eco-friendly cleaning products.”
Knowledge of the effect of chemicals on the environment is growing now, but environmental safety has been a core tenet of Virox since its founding a quarter-century ago.
AHP uses very low levels of hydrogen peroxide, and hydrogen peroxide breaks down into water and oxygen. Further, elements of the Prevention formulation are listed on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) substances list, said Woolford, meaning, he added, that in addition to biodegradable ingredients, the entire formulation has no negative impact on the environment.
“We really feel that it’s super important to provide to the market a disinfectant that works, but in the safest and most environmentally preferable means possible,” Woolford said.
It’s not just what’s inside the packaging that’s eco-friendly; Virox’s packaging approach was also developed with the environment in mind.
“Canisters containing disinfecting wipes are recyclable, but recycling, generally speaking, is not a very efficient process,” said Woolford. “So we said, ‘how can we help change the scenario?’ What we’ve more recently done is launch refill pouches of wipes.”
Once the customer has an empty canister, they can refill it with pre-saturated disinfectant wipes and reutilize that canister, which Woolford said represents about a 90% reduction in plastic.
Earn an Infection Prevention Certificate
Virox’s team wants its customers to understand what they are buying and how to use the products safely, effectively and efficiently. To this end, the company makes available various tools, information and a complimentary infection prevention certificate course. Almost 35,000 professionals have earned this certificate through a course that teaches students to:
• Implement an effective infection prevention plan for a spa or salon
• Get sanitation best-practice training tailored to a service or role
• Identify the risks germs pose to the therapist’s and clients’ health and safety; and
• Obtain a personalized certificate in a practice or spa’s name.
Create a Safe Environment
Pathogens are here—and no massage therapist wants a pathogen to result in sickness for their clients or themselves. With proper disinfection practices, a massage session room remains the safe environment needed for hands-on health care to take place.
About the Author
Karen Menehan is MASSAGE Magazine’s editor-in-chief for print and digital. Her articles for this publication include “Massage Therapist Jobs: The Employed Practitioner,” published in the Sept. 2022 issue of MASSAGE Magazine, a first-place winner of a 2023 FOLIO: Eddie Award for magazine editorial excellence, full issue; and “This is How Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Practices Make Business Better,” published in in the August 2021 issue of MASSAGE Magazine, a first-place winner of a 2022 FOLIO: Eddie Award for editorial excellence, full issue.