Managing Infection Control in your Laundry

August 24, 2017

Managing infection control in your laundry

Peak flu season paired with recent gastro outbreaks in healthcare has highlighted the importance of infection control.

Aqualogic have a thorough understanding of infection control measures and how to minimise cross contamination in your laundry. Our industry experts have prepared the below information to assist you and your laundry.

1. Purpose of Infection Control Program

An effective infection control program aims to stop the spread of infection to protect those that might be most vulnerable to infection. It protects both the general community and those receiving care due to health issues.

Hygiene plays a key role in ensuring that infection prevention and control is achieved.

Having an effective infection control program in place will ensure the correct hygiene standards are being followed and decrease the risk of an infectious outbreak.

2. Requirements for Laundering

In your laundry, there are two main ways to ensure disinfection is achieved. AS4146 outlines the following requirements:

Thermal: To achieve thermal disinfection, soiled linen is required to be washed so that the temperature of the load is maintained at a minimum of 650C for 10 minutes or at a minimum of 710C for not less than 3 minutes.

Chemical: For linens that are heat sensitive, chemical disinfection can be used. These linens are required to be washed using the appropriate wash cycle and use chemicals that disinfect to the same level as those linens that are thermally disinfected. Sites that utilise Ozone are achieving disinfection by this method in cold water.

All linens must be tumble dried where possible, however, this step is not recognised as an effective form of disinfection. Some linens are not suitable for tumble drying and therefore need to be disinfected prior to line drying.

3. The difference in your wash program

In your laundry you should have available different wash programs for each classification and a backup program that can be used for infectious linens.

Infectious linens are any fabrics which have been in contact with a resident that has a contagious disease.

The correct wash program to use for your infectious linens is commonly known as the infectious program. This program will ensure disinfection is achieved and has been programmed to the required standard.

Disinfection is achieved in the infectious wash program by a combination of thermal and chemical methods.

Disinfection can be validated through a bacterial enumeration swab test that measures bacteria before and after a wash program. This test is also known as a Tectra swab test.

4. Best practice to minimise cross contamination

Cross contamination starts prior to the linen reaching the laundry. Any infectious linens in contact with an isolated resident should be placed in a yellow dissolvable bag, sealed and sent to the laundry. The use of dissolvable bags is required to ensure that no infected linens can be exposed to any other linen in the laundry.

Laundry staff should not open the dissolvable bags once they have entered the laundry. These should remain sealed and loaded directly into the washing machine and washed.

The use of appropriate PPE, including gloves, apron and face mask provides a barrier for all those handling linens or bags. After loading, laundry staff should remove their gloves first before closing the door and touching the keypad. When the machine has finished, the first thing staff do is press the stop button on the keypad and open the door. This step will help prevent cross contamination once the washing machine has completed its wash cycle.

Following these procedures will aid in mitigating any risk associated with the spread of infectious diseases to keep staff and residence safe.

For more information about infection control or disinfection in your laundry, contact the team at Aqualogic.