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August 23, 2007

Success Is In The Details (Part 3): Laundry

It's been a while since I talked about washing massage sheets. According to the advertising in the professional journals, skunky smelling massage sheets is a widespread problem in our industry. Personally, I've never had this problem, so I'm trying to figure out what may be causing this dilemma.

My first guess has to do with discipline. If you let your massage sheets sit while they are dirty, it makes them harder to clean. Buying a degreasing product may help with oily build-up that will result in rancid smelling massage sheets. However, the manufacturer's recommended use suggests you put the product in the wash load. I am the queen of cheap and I find this expensive. I took a spray bottle ($1.49 at WalMart in the garden center), filled it half full with degreaser and topped if off with water. I pretreat my sheets while they are still on the table and wash them at the end of the day. Of course, if you have the luxury of a washing machine at your workplace, as many spas and salons do, your wait time to wash is reduced and this helps a lot. I buy my degreaser from the maker of my massage oil (Pure Pro) so they may have formulated their degreaser to more effectively cut their brand of oil. I also use Arm and Hammer laundry detergent which has baking soda built in as a natural odor neutralizer.

The second culprit for smelly sheets may be heat. Where we are in north Alabama, temperatures have been in the 100's. Throw a days worth of sheets in the trunk of your car and forget them (see reason #1 for the funk) and that's a smell that is cooked into your sheets. Of course, you could do everything right and your dryer will cook any remaining oil left in your sheets into the fibers. A certain amount of oily smell is simply a given. It has taken a couple of years, but my spouse has learned to live with the reality that part of the inherent smell of being a massage therapist is that you smell somewhat like oil.

This leads me to my third theory. Your massage lubricant could be the stinker. I stumbled upon this explanation by accident. My coworker's massage lotion manufacturer either changed their formula or stopped making it altogether and recommended a comparable product. She ordered a gallon of the stuff and immediately began having odor problems in her sheets. She even started putting scented dryer sheets between her sheet sets in the cabinet to cover the offense. Eventually she had to abandon the inferior product and search out a whole new line of massage products, eventually settling on Biotone. I don't know what combination of laundry detergent and degreasers she uses, but she hasn't had any problems since she switched.

Finally, I have to mention laundry services. Like I said before, I'm cheap, so I do my own laundry. However, if it is worth it to you to use some sort of laundry service, you can't get any more convenient than one that picks up and delivers your sheets. Many cities also have laundromat services that will charge by the pound to clean your sheets. Be aware that any special handling will run the cost up on these already lucrative services. Again pretreating your sheets may be the way to insure that your laundry service is getting your sheets as clean as you'd like.

Tomorrow I will be talking about another mundane responsibility that can save you from legal trouble. Not keeping notes on your clients could be construed as malpractice. Everyone I talk to is looking for ways to make this important task fast and easy.

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Posted by linda at August 23, 2007 6:57 AM

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