An outbreak of bacterial infections linked to pedicure foot spas poses new mysteries for public health detectives. It also shows there is still a lot of confusion among nail technicians and salon owners about proper cleaning procedures. To protect yourself, do your homework!
To Be Confident, Double-Check Your Procedures
If you think you are already doing a good job cleaning your pedicure foot spas, protect yourself by reviewing your procedures again. Even at pricey salons with great reputations, nail technicians often don’t understand how to clean their spas properly.
1. Check your state regulations for cleaning procedures. California’s regulations are becoming a model for other states, and include the following elements:
• A four-step cleaning after every client:
- Drain the tub, and remove all debris.
- Wash down the tub with water and soap or detergent. Make sure your cleaner has a surfactant to get rid of the oily film that can hide bacteria.
- Use an EPA-registered, low-level, hospital-grade disinfectant according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The product must be in the tub at least 10 minutes to disinfect. Less time will not work.
- Dry the tub with a clean towel.
• Nightly cleaning according to manufacturer’s instructions. Remove, wash and disinfect any screens or cover plates for 10 minutes.
• Additional cleaning every week or two weeks with bleach, according to manufacturer’s instructions or your state’s regulations.
• A cleaning log for daily and weekly cleanings (required in California, and a back-up in case of a lawsuit).
Remember that it is not enough to spray on a disinfectant. It must be in the water and in contact with the tub and equipment for 10 minutes to kill bacteria. Click here for detailed foot spa cleaning guidelines. The guidelines can also be found in the issue of FEET that accompanied your March 2005 NAILS.
2. Use the right amount of cleaner. Read the label of both your soap or detergent, and your disinfectant. Make sure you are using the products the way the manufacturer says on the labels. They may not clean properly otherwise. Make sure you are using the right amount of disinfectant. Take time to do the math, and don’t skimp on product to save money.
3. Check for EPA approval. Check your cleaning products to make sure they are registered with the EPA. The product should kill bacteria, fungus, and viruses — some states specifically require this. (The suffix “-cide” means “kills,” as in “bactericide.”) Products that are labeled with the EPA have been tested to make sure they kill bad bugs. The product must be used according to the instructions.
4. No leg-shaving before pedicures. Most of the people who have gotten infections from pedicure spas had shaved their legs shortly before the service. Shaving can leave nicks in the skin that you can’t see, but are big enough for bacteria to get inside. Suggest to your clients that they not shave their legs within 24 hours before their service. Cosmetology boards in California and Ohio are already advising technicians to do this.