A Sanitation and Hygiene Crash Course
by Jamison Stoike

Do you have questions about PPE, sanitation processes and important new equipment? ISPA has answers. While you’ll find our most extensive guidelines around sanitation and hygiene at experienceispa.com/covid-19-info, Pulse will walk you through some of the most relevant aspects for reopening a spa.

The Basics of Sanitation
Sanitization is the process of lowering the number of germs on a surface to a safe level, a process which is carried out by cleaning and disinfecting. In essence, cleaning uses soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs; disinfecting uses chemicals to kill germs. Both are critical to effectively sanitizing the surfaces in your spa.

Proper sanitation has long been practiced in spa, but the COVID-19 pandemic has shined an atypically bright spotlight on it. ISPA recommends that you clean and disinfect all high-touch surfaces regularly, from doorknobs to faucets, shelves, tables, benches, countertops and more. Soft surfaces—such as rugs and furniture—should be cleaned regularly with soap and water.

Best Practices for Laundry
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a simple method to clean linens and terry: wash and dry them according to manufacturer instructions. After a treatment, immediately remove any linens or towels used and place them in a laundry receptacle—it is preferable to wear gloves while doing so. When the laundry is collected, be sure to wear gloves while
Salons are likely to be the first area within the spa to reopen, and sanitizing tools—like tweezers, clippers, files, microblading handles and more—is an essential aspect of keeping them clean and protecting your employees and guests. After a service, ISPA recommends the following:

  1. Clean the tools using water and detergent.
  2. Rinse the tools with clean water and dry them.
  3. Fully immerse the tools in an approved disinfectant for at least eight minutes.
  4. Rinse the tools with water and dry them using a cloth.
  5. Store them in a closed, disinfected container.

The PPE Process
Most spas will require spa staff to wear masks upon reopening, so knowing how to use them properly is essential. When putting on a mask, secure the ties or elastic bands, then pull the mask snug to cover both your nose and chin. If you need to wear gloves, put on gloves after putting on your mask. Refrain from touching your face or your mask once it is in place. Before removing your mask, remove any gloves first. Then, safely remove the mask by the elastic bands or ties, being sure to avoid touching the part that covered your face. Afterwards, wash your hands. If the mask is reusable, wash it regularly.

Difficult Choices, Tough Answers
The process of effectively putting on and removing PPE is straightforward—but getting your staff behind the idea of using PPE is a tougher nut to crack. There’s tremendous resistance to wearing gloves; fortunately, most state guidelines do not require them, but guests may ask for them just the same. Reassure your team that although gloves may affect their ability to perform at their normal standards, guests understand that and will be deeply appreciative of the both the service itself and the care that’s being taken to limit possible disease transmission.

ISPA members have reported that early reception to wearing masks and face shields has been mixed. Simply put, masks are hot and stuffy, and spa treatment rooms are warm and generally humid places by design. Wearing a mask for hours at a time can be difficult. Unfortunately, there’s no good answer to this challenge, and spa directors will likely have to repeatedly train staff and emphasize the importance of wearing PPE in rebuilding spa-goers’ trust. Remember: many essential workers have been wearing masks all day for months. It will take time for service providers to adjust to wearing masks, but they will adjust.

Although traditional hospital-grade disinfectants will remain the cornerstone of spa sanitation, there are a number of new and existing technologies that can help your spa stay safe for employees and guests.

Ozone-based sanitation has become a hot topic in the spa industry, in part because it offers a thorough and passive way to sanitize virtually any space. In essence, an ozone generator creates ozone (O3), a compound which rapidly breaks down into normal oxygen (O2) and free oxygen molecules. These free oxygen molecules then destroy viruses and bacteria that they come in contact with. Many spas have been using ozone generators to sanitize wet areas for quite some time, but their use in treatment rooms is only now coming into vogue. Certified Clean-Site, an offshoot of longtime sauna and spa manufacturer Scandia Manufacturing, offers a top-to-bottom ozone sanitation system that includes monitoring and certification. Since ozone is an irritant to humans, though, the area must be empty while an ozone generator is in use. Kristen Daley, of Certified Clean-Site, suggests assigning therapists to two rooms—while they work in one, the other is being passively sanitized by an ozone generator.

HVAC Systems
Given that COVID-19 primarily spreads through respiratory droplets, filtering and disinfecting the air within a spa has become a topic of discussion. Bodyworkmall has recently started distributing AtmosAir, an ionizing air filtration system that measures air quality and disinfectants viruses in the air. There are also HVAC-based systems that use UV light (also known as UVGI, or Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation) to sanitize air. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends UVGI, among other methods, in response to COVID-19. It’s worth noting, however, that any air treatment/filtration systems currently on the market are unlikely to have been specifically tested against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, although they may have been tested against other coronaviruses.