Hot Stone Massage: How to Sanitize Stones & Equipment

Cleaning and sanitizing equipment and stones for hot stone massage can be achieved in a few easy steps.  Because it does take time to sanitize in-between clients, we recommend scheduling extra time in-between hot stone massage appointments for these sanitation processes.

The warm, moist, dark treatment room setting of a hot stone massage service creates a perfect breeding ground for germs — a category that viruses, along with fungi, protozoa and bacteria, belongs to — so the massage therapist who offers stone massage must know how to sanitize massage stones. As such, stone massage therapists should already be well-versed in sanitation measures.

Massage stones that are composed of black volcanic basalt lava are porous in nature. That makes thoroughly cleaning or disinfecting them quite difficult; in fact, it is impossible to eliminate all viruses and bacteria while cleaning and disinfecting a porous stone.

These basalt stones born out of volcanic eruption and then tumbled in oceans or riverbeds for thousands of years are believed by some to have energetic qualities. It is our job to find a way to safely use these natural marvels without decreasing their healing value.

This includes sanitizing in a manner that does not deplete the stone’s iron-rich metallic properties. The metallic agents within a massage stone are what allow the stones to retain their temperature for longer periods of time more so than the average rock.

Here are 6 steps that recognize the special needs required to clean, disinfect and provide overall care for massage stones:

1. Unplug the stone warmer and remove all contents, including stones, thermometer, slotted spoons and oil bottles from the hot stone bath, to be individually cleaned.

2. The entire stone bath liner should be removed from the stone warmer. Any towels inside the stone liner should be discarded for laundering. After emptying the liner, the liner should be cleaned with soap and water (grease-cutting dish detergent works best and antibacterial hand soap is also an option.)

3. Each stone and implement should be individually washed with soap and water until each item feels clean and is visibly clean. I like to use a scrub brush or toothbrush to ensure a deeper cleaning on my stone massage service items. Cleaning will physically remove debris from a surface and most germs.

4. Newly cleaned stone massage items can either be dried with a towel or allowed to air dry. To restore some of a stone’s energetic properties after sanitizing, you can always lay the stones outside during a full moon or on some green healthy grass during a light rain. This energetical restoration process is usually practiced about once a month, depending on how often you use the stones.

5. For better sanitation effort, add stones and equipment (except for the stone warmer itself) to a disinfectant soak, or spray the stones and equipment with a disinfectant after cleaning. A list of disinfectants and their instructions to combat bacteria/viruses is listed on the EPA’s website.

Disinfectant use will help eliminate a greater number of germs than cleaning alone. Because disinfectants are not designed to remove physical debris from a surface, cleaning must be provided first or else the entire disinfection effort will be less effective, if not useless. Be sure to allow the disinfectant to sit for its prescribed dwell time (also known as contact time) for proper disinfection.

6. When starting a new hot stone massage service, the hot bath liner should be reinserted into the hot stone warmer and a fresh, clean towel should be placed inside the liner before adding clean water. I recommend adding five or more drops of tea tree essential oil to each stone massage bath for its antimicrobial properties; however, there is little scientific research to support this sanitary use.

In this video below, we will these review steps, and some additional efforts you could make during a pandemic as well..

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