As pipe-free pedicure systems gain popularity within the industry, and concerns over sanitation and salon safety preoccupy the minds of clients and nail techs, it forces the question: Are pipe-free systems a better option?
There are other benefits as well. Since pipe-free systems tend to be modular and accessible in that the entire system is within reach and easily removed, servicing and maintenance are relatively easy.
Oils, salts, and greasy products, which are sometimes discouraged in traditional whirlpool spas because they tend to create buildup in the pipes, can be safely used in pipe-free systems because their residue can be easily and thoroughly removed.
SaniJet claims that its system is significantly quieter than typical piped systems, saying its system runs at 55 decibels while a piped system can run at 73.
Do You Clean It?
In response to heightened consumer awareness of foot spa cleanliness, a boom industry has sprung up. Automated sanitizing and disinfecting systems have been added to pedicure spas (Amerispa’s AmeriKleen is an example) to make cleaning easier and more convenient. And disposable barriers shield clients from potentially lurking bacteria in pedicure tubs.
Still, there are concerns among makers of both systems that some nail techs may assume that because a pipefree system has no pipes (and therefore less area for bacteria to live) it does not have to be cleaned in the same fashion as a piped system. This could not be further from the truth. Just like a traditional whirlpool foot spa, any poorly maintained pipe-free system can become the perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria. The reduced area does not equal reduced risk.
The same stringent cleaning chemicals and protocols apply to pipe-free systems. Just like a piped system, they must be cleaned between every client, nightly, and weekly. “Pipeless units have propellers, screens, and jets too,” says King. “Every piece has to be cleaned meticulously.”
To clean a pipe-free system, regardless of the type, all the components must be removed, scrubbed, and disinfected. Klement describes how to clean a SaniJet system: “Remove the jet assembly with a twist of the hand, clean the jet components and casing with a non-abrasive antibacterial cleaner, and reinsert the jet assembly. We recommend cleaning the jets and tub shell after each use to maintain the highest level of disinfection.” [Nail technicians should, again, consult state regulations for cleaning the unit.]
Cleaning European Touch’s Crystal Clean system is equally easy. “In most locations, simply remove the foot plate, wipe the basin, foot plate, and components clean with a sanitizing spray or wipe, then replace the foot plate. There are no screens or jet nozzles,” says Reed.
“As is the case with any type of hydrotherapy equipment, SaniJet’s Pipeless Jets can become contaminated with residue if not properly maintained. It would be deceptive for any pedicure manufacturer, SaniJet included, to state that their system cannot become contaminated,” insists Klement. “SaniJet’s value position is clear and concise; at any time a person can visually inspect and thoroughly clean the system to restore it to completely sanitary conditions.”
“European Touch strongly recommends cleaning and disinfecting all pedicure spas between each customer, after the last client of the day, and at week’s end,” says Reed.
So, while pipe-free systems are an innovation in the ease of cleaning and maintenance, they by no means eliminate the fears of bacterial infections. The cleaning may be easier to do and may give the user peace of mind that her unit is safe, but the need to be vigilant and meticulous remains.
Margarida Deoliveira, owner of A Place For You in Brookfield, Conn., is a typical pipe-free system owner. “I’m very concerned with sanitation and safety,” she says. “I explain the cleaning process to my clients because they are very curious.”
Her spa sees a high volume of pedicure clients and she says the ease of cleaning is helpful. “I clean between every client. I take the foot plate off, spray it and the basin, and wipe them down. My pedicures take about an hour and a half each — and I put the same kind of effort into cleaning my foot spa.”
And while there is comfort in knowing a system can be so easily cleaned, she says there is little temptation to let her guard down.“Even with this technology, if you don’t clean after each use you can still get a fungus or something worse. You’d have to be pretty lazy not to want to clean when it is this easy.”