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Sheets and Towels + boil washing - Is it necessary for Hygiene and or Legally?


Jules1303
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Hi all,

Although I have been a reader for a while, this is my first ever post on Healthypages - woo! I am soon to start out massaging professionally. Although I actually qualified over a year ago I have only massaged family, friends and colleagues so far.

During my Holistic Massage BTEC course we were taught that it was a legal requirement to boil wash towels and sheets between clients for hygiene purposes. I have noticed that a lot of people have been talking on these threads about washing at much lower temperatures and I am wondering if I have been misinformed. I had a look at the HSE website but could only find info on guidelines for washing blood soiled laundry which should hopefully be a rarity in massage! πŸ˜€

I would obviously like to wash at lower temps if it was both safe and legal as I am aware of the environmental, not to mention economic benefits but I am concerned it is not safe and or against the law.

Can anyone shed any light on the matter? Thanks in advance for any comments. Now to see if I can get anyone to say 'it's health and safety gone mad!'

Jules1303

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Lynora
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(@jabba-the-hut)
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Hi Jules

Legal requirement by whom, I wonder?????? Who would police it????? The world has gone mad. I'd love to come face to face with people who come up with this nonsense.

As long as your covers are changed regularly, and you use fresh towels for each client, then there is absolutely no need for 'boil washing'. We are not generally treating people with open sores, nor are we barrier nursing!

Some therapists I know change the couch cover daily, using fresh paper roll for each client. I use a clean cover, and two clean cot sheets for each client - if I am seeing the same client on a daily basis, then I keep the cover and sheets in an archive box in the corner of the room. I wash any blankets I might add for warmth, daily or every other day. depending on how many clients I might see in a day. I do all my washing at 30 degrees.

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Jules1303
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The Towel Police?....

Thanks for replying Jabba! You made an excellent and obvious point - honestly I sometimes think they left the common sense part out when I was put together!

I think the law as such was included in the Health and Safety Act (not sure of the date of the legislation) and as such would be applied by Health and Safety Enforcement Officers although I'm not clear on how or when they visit and as you rightly pointed out how would they really know if you were complying with legislation or not.

One thing I'm still not 100 percent clear on is what temp will kill bacteria. Also, although I currently use couch roll I always find my clients end up ripping and scrunching it up when they turn over and I'm not 100 percent convinced of its effectiveness as a barrier.

Anyway great to get some pragmatic advice from someone more experienced than I πŸ™‚

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Lynora
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I don't think any domestic washing machine would be able to get hot enough to effectively eradicate 'bacteria' - as soon as any towelling was washed, then dried, bacteria will soon congregate! They are everywhere - I wouldn't worry about it! Just make sure you are using fresh linen/towels for each client.

Paper towel is not a barrier - I never use it, and I don't like being treated on it.

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gillypompom
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I purchased a new washing machine last year when my old one finally gave up the ghost. On looking through the instruction booklet when I first got it I noticed in the table of programmes that there is a specific wash cycle for towels which complies with PN-EN-60456 (whatever that is - I've never bothered to look it up).

This cycle recommends min 60 degrees and max 95 degrees wash but it takes 2hrs and 47 mins according to the table so I have never used it.Of course, if any inspector was to ask me then I'd say I use it all the time. As my towels are white I do tend to use a 60 degree 1 hour cycle (recommended for jeans in the booklet) as they do tend to go a bit grey if washed lower. If I used coloured towels then the temp would be much lower. Clients are hardly dirty, covered in bacteria or whatever when they come for a massage.

I do tend to use couch roll simply because it helps soak up any excess oil if I've been a bit heavy-handed with it but I agree it is a nuisance!

Gill

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Jules1303
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I am such a geek...

Thanks for your input as well Gill.

I did a bit more digging and, as I suspected, and you two have confirmed boil washing does seem unnecessary.

I did manage to find some guidance from the Hygiene Council which recommends that all linens should be laundered at a high temperature, not lower than 60c,to be sure bacteria, viruses and dust mites have been destroyed so that seems the safest bet.

As Jabba pointed out bacteria will start growing again but washing at a high temp will reduce the overall bacteria load.

I am not trying to insinuate that all our clients are dirty and riddled with harmful bacteria but there is always the risk that the person is ill and does not yet know it, and travelling by tube in London is almost guaranteed to ensure you pick up something nasty on your hands!

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innersense
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Towel police

Hi Jules
Just wanted to say that I've been practising for over 10 years and I've not heard about any laws regarding boiling towels!

I have to say I do my towels on a 60 degree wash and I have a "quick wash" button that reduces the time down a bit..I also use soda crystals in with the powder as it takes out oil stains and softens them..

I agree with the other comments above. Hope this helps!

Tricia

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UrbanHippy
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Good question, this is something I've questioned.

I was mine on a 90 to help remove oil. I recall receiving an email from the FHT a few months ago warning therapists that washing towels on a cooler wash leaves oils residue and they have been notified that several therapists have had fires in their tumble driers.

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Lynora
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(@jabba-the-hut)
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Good question, this is something I've questioned.

I was mine on a 90 to help remove oil. I recall receiving an email from the FHT a few months ago warning therapists that washing towels on a cooler wash leaves oils residue and they have been notified that several therapists have had fires in their tumble driers.

Unlikely that the fires were due to oil residue in the fabric - more likely clogged filters.

I find that a 40 or 50 degree wash with half a cap of non-bio liquid and half a cup of washing soda, removes oil spills very easily. If I did my linens at 90 degrees all the time, they would need replacing too often!

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staranise
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I used to wash my towels on a 60 degree cycle but it never seemed to get all the oil out, so for the past couple of years I've been using a 90 degree wash instead and I've noticed a big improvement with oil removal so I won't be changing that any time soon. I never actually considered it with regards to hygiene to be honest because like others have said the clients don't actually soil the towels but I think a hot wash is essential when dealing with oil stained items, at least that has been my experience.

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UrbanHippy
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Hmm, I've not used washing soda before, I'll have to look out for that. Thanks for the tip!

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Rainbowtherapy
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now to go and buy soda crystals, got a couple of towels with more oil stains in than usual (that's what I get for letting my Guides lose with the oils on a pamper night)

if they work, thanks to everyone who mentioned them πŸ˜›

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Mtbw
Posts: 176
 Mtbw
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Joined: 2 years ago

Hi all,

Although I have been a reader for a while, this is my first ever post on Healthypages - woo! I am soon to start out massaging professionally. Although I actually qualified over a year ago I have only massaged family, friends and colleagues so far.

During my Holistic Massage BTEC course we were taught that it was a legal requirement to boil wash towels and sheets between clients for hygiene purposes. I have noticed that a lot of people have been talking on these threads about washing at much lower temperatures and I am wondering if I have been misinformed. I had a look at the HSE website but could only find info on guidelines for washing blood soiled laundry which should hopefully be a rarity in massage! πŸ˜€

I would obviously like to wash at lower temps if it was both safe and legal as I am aware of the environmental, not to mention economic benefits but I am concerned it is not safe and or against the law.

Can anyone shed any light on the matter? Thanks in advance for any comments. Now to see if I can get anyone to say 'it's health and safety gone mad!'

Jules1303

We do this 1-2 times/day because we have own laundry.
But in general, this is normal to use everything clean and hygienic with each client.
I personally would allow to treatme if I have doubt about cleanse and hygiene.... very easy and it is very common that therapist using the same things for several clients...
Also this is a huge problem of osteopaths... chiros....

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Mtbw
Posts: 176
 Mtbw
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Good question, this is something I've questioned.

I was mine on a 90 to help remove oil. I recall receiving an email from the FHT a few months ago warning therapists that washing towels on a cooler wash leaves oils residue and they have been notified that several therapists have had fires in their tumble driers.

Yes, we also use90 degree. It helps remove oil and other remedies from towels and covers. And because we wash a lot at once so we are sure it is clean.
My problem personally is time: one washing machine run + drying machine run together is about 3 hours for me. So I need constantly control storage

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