Sanitation procedures have always been essential in the spa industry, but the current pandemic highlights the importance of not only educating staff but in communicating sanitation efforts to clients.

On top of closures and capacity restrictions, spas around the country are suffering from reduced bookings and an increase in cancellations. Now more than ever, it is important to give your employees the assurance that they’re safe at work and your clients the peace of mind knowing you’re doing everything you can to follow healthy and safety regulations and current guidelines.

It’s important for every business to maintain a clean and healthy environment, pandemic or not, but sanitation is particularly essential in an industry where tools and equipment can easily transmit pathogens to clients and employees. Here’s what you need to know to keep your spa sanitized.

The Basics of Spa Sanitation

The definition of the word “sanitary” refers to conditions that affect hygiene and health, but it also relates to cleanliness and precautions against disease. In a spa environment, there are many opportunities for the transfer of pathogens from surfaces and between clients and employees. Proper sanitation practices help minimize the risk of disease spread and keep both your employees and your customers safe.

Here are some general sanitation practices to follow:

  • All staff should wash their hands before and after every client.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze – use a tissue if possible, or cough into your elbow or shoulder. Immediately afterwards, wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Avoid touching your face during a client’s treatment – if you do, wash your hands before touching the client again.
  • Wipe down surfaces with disinfectant between clients as well as prior to closing and opening.
  • Keep personal items out of the room in a dedicated employee space.
  • Employees should wear gloves when it is practical to do so.
  • Bottles of hand sanitizer should be readily available, and soap in the restroom.

Though these are some of the basics for cleaning and sanitizing your spa, there are specific steps to follow for certain surfaces, tools, and treatments.

Here are the best practices for cleaning and disinfection spa surfaces and tools:

Disinfecting Surfaces

  1. Remove visible dirt and debris from the surface.
  2. Spray the surface with a disinfectant or clean with disinfecting wipes, such as Lysol or Clorox wipes.
  3. Allow the surface to remain wet for the recommended contact time (usually upwards of 30 seconds).
  4. Wipe the surface dry or allow to air dry.

Sanitizing Tools

  1. Clean reusable tools using water and soap or detergent.
  2. Rinse the tools thoroughly with clean water.
  3. Immerse the tools in disinfectant for at least 8 minutes to further sterilize them.
  4. Rinse the tools with clean water and dry with a clean cloth.
  5. Store sanitized tools in a clean, closed container.

Cleaning Foot Baths

  1. Drain the water from the basin and remove any visible debris.
  2. Remove all removable parts (filter screens, jets, etc.) and rinse with clean water.
  3. Clean the basin with a brush and detergent then replace the removed parts.
  4. Fill the basin with cool water above the jet line then add your disinfecting solution.
  5. Allow the foot bath to circulate for at least 30 seconds then let sit for 5 minutes.
  6. Drain the bath and refill with clean water then let it circulate for at least 30 seconds.
  7. Turn off the jets then drain the tub and let air dry.

In addition to following these sanitation procedures, it’s also a good idea to let your clients know they’ve been done. Something as simple as instructing your employees to tell clients the tools have been cleaned before the service begins goes a long way.

Adjusting and Improving Your Sanitation Practices

You should be well versed in the sanitation requirements for spas and salons before you open your doors, but it never hurts to refresh your memory. Whether you’re double-checking your current sanitation procedures or looking for ways to improve it, there are certain things you should review.

Here’s a quick checklist of 6 areas to focus on:

  1. Reception Area – Though your guests will spend most of their time in the treatment room, almost everyone who visits or works in the spa will go through the reception area. Wipe down surfaces frequently (including door handles) and provide hand sanitizer for customer use.
  2. Restrooms – It’s always important to keep your restroom clean and tidy, but you may want to go so far as to wipe down surfaces between customers to further minimize the spread of germs. Provide disposable towels and consider upgrading to touchless soap dispensers, if you haven’t.
  3. Treatment Rooms – Refer to state guidelines to make sure your treatment rooms are properly sanitized and be sure your employees follow the proper procedure for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and for using freshly laundered linens for each customer.
  4. Tools and Equipment – With the exception of disposables, all tools and equipment should be cleaned, disinfected, and sterilized correctly after each use. Make sure your employees know the proper procedure for sterilizing equipment and provide receptacles for single-use items.
  5. Waste Receptacles – Any sanitation plan would be remiss without thought to the disposal of waste. Waste receptacles should be emptied throughout the day, but you may need to adjust your current procedure to account for the increased use of disposables and PPE.
  6. Air Quality – Depending what services your spa offers, there may be some risk related to suspended particles in the air such as hair spray and nail filings. Consider installing an air purification system as an added safety measure, particularly to minimize the spread of germs.

Many businesses get away with the bare minimum when it comes to cleaning and sanitation, but the risk is much higher in the spa industry versus an office building. For the safety of your clients and employees, as well as the survival of your business, it’s important to be proactive in adhering to sanitation recommendations and staying up to date on the latest guidelines.

Where Do You Turn for Current Guidance?

To keep your spa legal, you need to comply with certain state and federal guidelines in regard to sanitation and safety. These guidelines vary depending where you live, but there are certain regulations you’ll need to follow. Here’s a quick list:

  • FDA Cosmetology Rules – The FDA has jurisdiction over food, drugs, and cosmetics, so you’ll need to follow certain rules and regulations that apply specifically to the salon industry.
  • OSHA Standards – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces standards for workplace safety which includes rules about cleaning up and disposing of blood and other bodily fluids, labeling chemical materials, keeping the workplace free from hazards, and providing personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • EPA Regulations – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has specific rules for the spa and salon industry, particularly the cleaning and sanitation of pedicure spas. The EPA also offers recommendations on disinfectants for use against COVID-19.

In terms of COVID-19 safety and sanitation, there are a number of resources you can consult to stay up to date on the latest recommendations. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides recommendations for business reopening and the CDC offers advice for cleaning and disinfecting business facilities. The CDC also offers more general cleaning and disinfecting guidance on their site.

Should You Hire a Professional Cleaning Service?

Health and safety regulations are always changing but the current pandemic has led to a period of even more rapid change. As a business owner, you may find yourself struggling to keep up with ever-changing guidelines and stressing out over the burden of overseeing the safety of your staff and clients as well as your own personal safety. It can all be quite overwhelming.

If you’re looking for a way to take some of the burden off your shoulders without putting anyone at risk, consider hiring a professional cleaning service. Your staff will still need to follow safe sanitation practices, but at the end of the day a professional cleaning service can come in to clean and sanitize everything overnight. Even if it’s nothing more than an added precautionary measure, you can never be too careful when it comes to the safety of those who work in or come to your spa.

Get Your Staff Trained and Certified

Sanitation practices only really work if everyone employs them. It’s one thing to hang flyers around the spa to remind staff of proper sanitation procedures, and another to hope your entire staff will follow them consistently. If you really want to make sure your spa is properly sanitized and everyone who works there is on the same page, consider an online sanitation certification.

Here are some online options to consider:

  • Barbicide – Manufacturer of spa, salon, and barbershop disinfecting products, Barbicide offers two online sanitation certifications. Their COVID-19 Certification course is designed to provide the most current information pertinent to beauty professionals while their standard Barbicide Certification teaches infections control for spa, salon, and barbershop professionals.
  • Milady Pro – Choose from a 2-hour or 4-hour course on infection control, both affordably priced under $30. These courses include interactive activities, videos, and worksheets to teach salon and spa professionals how to create a safe and healthy environment beyond infection control.
  • Rejuvenate – Virox Beauty, manufacturer of Rejuvenate salon and spa disinfectants, offers a 45-minute online course for infection prevention training. The course consists of three 15-minute modules covering germ basics, germs in salons and spas, and best practices to combat germs.
  • Cosmetology Edu – Designed specifically for cosmetologists, this 1-hour online course is designed to teach the basics about sources of infection and contamination as well as personal protection. It covers aspects of cleaning, disinfecting equipment, and sanitation procedures.
  • Beauty Industry Approval – This online course is designed for hair and beauty industry professionals to help individuals and businesses follow government guidelines and ensure the safety of clients and personnel. It covers the basics of COVID-19 transmission as well as topics like hand hygiene, sanitization and sterilization, and cross-infection in the workplace.

Not only is it helpful to have all of your employees properly trained in sanitation practices, but it gives your clients an added degree of security as well. Advertising your certification on your website and hanging the certificate in your spa will give clients peace of mind knowing not only are you familiar with government guidelines and recommended sanitation practices, but that you’re following them.

The Takeaway

Keeping your spa clean is about more than just ensuring a positive customer experience – it’s about keeping everyone who enters the building safe. All it takes is a single comment about sanitation concerns on social media or reports of a customer getting sick to destroy your business. If not for the wellbeing of your customers and employees, adhere to state and federal regulations for sanitation and err on the side of caution in areas where the guidance may be unclear.

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