Buying and Caring for
Massage Table Sheets
Massage table sheets both protect your massage table from oils and provide a sanitary surface for your client. Most massage therapists want sheets that are easy to care for and comfortable for the client. You can also choose sheets to create atmosphere; for example, sterile-looking white sheets for medical massage or plush flannel sheets for a spa.
Buying massage sheets can be as simple as going to the local department or discount store and buying a standard twin-size sheet set. A twin fitted sheet fits a standard-size massage table, plus you get a flat sheet for draping and a pillowcase to cover the face rest. You can also buy specially made massage table sheet sets.
The advantages of 100% cotton sheets are that they feel soft (especially cotton flannel) and release oil more easily than cotton-poly blends. Their disadvantage is that they tend to wrinkle easily. Cotton-poly blends generally wrinkle less and tend to be more durable. Other fabric options to consider are bamboo and hemp.
Another option is disposable massage table sheets, which may be a good choice for some situations, but is definitely not an environmentally friendly massage linen option. Disposable face rest covers can also be useful, especially if you do onsite chair massage.
Caring for Massage Table Sheets
Here are some tips for caring for your massage sheets:
- When you buy sheets, always wash them before use to remove any unwanted residue from the fabric.
- To more easily remove oils, wash sheets within 24 hours of use. If you can't wash within 24 hours, store the sheets in a black plastic bag, tied shut, to keep out the air and light that causes oil to turn rancid.
- Using water dispersible massage oils and creams makes cleaning sheets easier.
- Washing sheets in warm water and rinsing in cold water will both save energy and help sheets last longer. Hot water and a hot dryer will set in oil stains and create smelly sheets.
- Bleaching is not necessary, unless you work in a hospital. Warm water and detergent kills most common germs and bacteria. Bleach doesn't remove oil stains, shortens the life of fabric, and is harmful to the environment.
- Presoak heavily soiled massage linens before washing. You can use commercially available degreasers, stain removers, borax, or baking soda.
- In consideration of clients with sensitivities, use unscented detergent that is free of chemical additives. Also, avoid fabric softener, which can cause allergic reactions. Instead, add 1/4 cup of vinegar to the final rinse to eliminate odors, reduce lint, brighten colors, and remove residual detergent.
- If you have sheets with newly set-in oil, wash them using automatic dishwasher detergent (not liquid dish soap, which will cause too many suds). Dishwasher detergent is slightly abrasive and made to dissolve grease. This technique works only for newly set stains and also greatly reduces the usable life of sheets.
Tip: If you don't want to deal with buying and washing massage table sheets, you can use a linen service that supplies the sheets and launders them. However, the only type of sheets available are usually a white cotton/poly blend.