Infection control is one of the priorities of laundry services, as linen from hospitals could be exposed to potentially infectious materials while collection, handling or sorting. Hence, appropriate washing hands, use protective PPE attire and also remove foreign objects from soiled clothes. Although the risk of disease from pathogenic organisms is quite negligible, sorting them in a different pile works well. Heavily soiled clothes need to be rolled well and kept in linen bags and transported in covered vehicles which need regular washing and disinfecting.
The laundering process needs proper washing and rinsing to remove organic soil so that they are ready for reuse. A high temperature of about 1600F and a low temperature of about 750F should be used for nearly 25 minutes. A detergent and a small amount of chlorine can be used for the washing cycle.
The clean linen now has to be covered with a paper wrap while transporting it to the user, making sure the cart being used for clean linen should be disinfected. Surgical gowns and drapes need one round of sterilization before being delivered.
Some important functional flow of activities at laundry services
]- Receipt of articles – Make a list of articles received from various departments, OPD, ICU, OT.
]- Cleaning and Disinfection – The linen received has to be cleaned using bleaching powder and disinfected using the necessary disinfectants.
]- Washing – The disinfected linen is now thoroughly washed in the washing area.
]- Inspection – Before washing each piece of linen is inspected for any stains, or defects, wear and tear and then loaded into the washing machine using the appropriate mode/cycle and then dried before they are assembled at the pressing area. The person operating the machine has to be well aware of all the functions of the machine.
]- Linen storage – Next, the clean and pressed linen is stored in a store which needs regular cleaning and has to be far away from the contaminated linen area.
]- Distribution – Now the fresh and clean linen has to be distributed to the appropriate areas.
Note : Some laundry services do use a method of classification of linen so that handling them becomes an easy job. This segregation at the point of generation is very beneficial as dirty, soiled and infected linen can be put into different colored bags and transported to the laundry. This method reduces infections spreads during laundering.