Ensuring that your laundry has a clean bill of health

While maintaining a sterile environment is aways a priority for on-premises laundries (OPLs), the importance of this factor is redoubled for healthcare estates – where eliminating the risk of cross-contamination is essential to preventing the spread of bacteria. With this in mind, Mick Christian, Training & Demonstration manager for Electrolux Professional UK & Ireland, discusses best practice, and how new technologies can help Laundry managers enhance both hygiene and productivity.

The on-premises laundry truly is at the heart of any healthcare site's facilities management strategy, with both patients and staff requiring a steady stream of clean linen every day. It is important to recognise that the range of items here is enormous, and includes bedclothes, gowns, and personal clothing for patients, alongside uniforms, surgical dresses, PPE, and more, for staff. These items represent just a portion of any given hospital's laundry load each day. Moreover, hygiene — while always of importance to any laundry — is paramount in this setting. Without effective separation and hygiene control, the cross-contamination of different laundry items could potentially prove a major vector for the spread of disease. In turn, this could then compromise the health and safety of staff, visitors, and patients, many of whom may already be classed as vulnerable.

Taking these considerations into account, the scale of the challenge 
faced by hospital laundry managers is tangible, with thousands of items required to be collected, washed, and returned each day — all while ensuring stringent hygiene standards. However, adhering to best practice while making use of the correct equipment can significantly simplify this task and help to ensure a smooth, efficient, and safe on-premises laundry.

Central to ensuring best practice for any on-premises laundry is grasping the distinction between different types of laundry. While this varies slightly from Trust to Trust, there are a number of core policies that span all NHS health estates. As a rule of thumb, gowns, uniforms, and bed linen should all be changed daily. The exception here is if any of these items become soiled — in which case they should be changed immediately. From here, all laundry — whether from patients, staff, or operating theatres — falls into two primary categories:

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