The dirty secret about hot stone massageOther Massage Information — By Steve Ibach on August 3, 2012 at 4:02 pm
A hot stone massage can be a very relaxing and therapeutic treatment. The soothing heat from the stones penetrates your muscles, bringing blood flow to the area and providing you with a deep sense of relaxation. What you may not know, however, is that many clinics and spas do not wash the stones between treatments. That means after the stones are used to massage one client, they are simply put back in the same water and are used for the next client – one after another, all day long.
When stones are not cleaned after each treatment, skin, hair, sweat, and other bodily tissues and fluids accumulate in the roaster used to heat the stones and are transferred from client to client. By the end of the day the water becomes slimly with the accumulation of massage oils and body matter from each client who visited during the day.
A massage therapist who wants to remain anonymous and who worked at a major upscale resort spa in Scottsdale, AZ put it this way:
We just used the same stones and water all day long. On many days I treated eight different people with the same stones. By the end of the day I didn’t even want to touch the stones but management didn’t feel they needed to be cleaned more than once a day.
Another massage therapist who worked at a chain clinic in Scottsdale, AZ known for hot stone massages concurred:
We never cleaned the stones during the day. It was really disgusting.
Some massage facilities put chemicals in the hot stone water to kill bacteria. This is similar to the way hot tubs and pools are treated except there is no filtering device. Chemical agents may also be bad for the client’s health.
The correct procedure, though it takes about 10 – 15 minutes, is to clean each stone and the stone heater with soap and water between each and every client. Of course, this is not as economical for the business and the high volume chains may feel that cleaning the stones (which is often not required under health codes) is just an extra indulgence that could affect their quick in and out system. Resorts, who charge top dollar for these services have no excuse.
Some day spas and others do take the time to clean the stones between every client. This can easily be done while still maintaining a profitable system and reasonable prices. So the next time you book that hot stone massage be sure to specifically ask if the stones are taken out and washed, and the heating water changed, between each and every massage. If not, you may want to consider calling somewhere else – unless you like the communal sharing of bodily tissues, or you are at least the first client of the day!