Is Your Laundry Provider Properly Disinfecting Your Medical Scrubs?
Laundry hygiene is a top priority at America’s healthcare facilities. Does your linen provider follow the nation’s best practices for surgical attire? Are you still handling laundry in-house?
Failing to follow the hospital laundry industry’s best practices guides and regulations is a recipe for disaster. Your facility could spread infectious disease, fall out of regulatory compliance, or even face an expensive lawsuit and severe reputational damage.
Ensure your medical linens provider knows how to wash scrubs to meet the strictest healthcare standards. Below are the most important national standards for the disinfection and cleaning of medical scrubs.
AORN Guidelines for Surgical Attire
The Association of Operative Registered Nurses (AORN) follows a specific set of surgical attire guidelines to ensure all garments are properly laundered and hygienic. Here’s a summary of AORN’s most important guidelines regarding surgical attire cleanliness.
- Employees should wear clean surgical attire in restricted and semi-restricted areas to protect patients from exposure to microorganisms.
- After each daily use, wash scrubs at an HLAC accredited facility.
- Prevent contamination during laundry transport.
- Store laundered items in enclosed equipment with a regular disinfection schedule.
- Remove any scrubs contaminated with blood, fluids, or other infectious materials.
- Contaminated scrubs should be bagged/containerized to prevent cross-contamination.
- Employees should remove soiled scrubs daily before leaving the facility.
HLAC Guidelines for Medical Laundry Care
The Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council (HLAC) is the laundry industry’s top accrediting body and sets the standard of medical laundry care. If you handle your medical linens in-house, familiarize yourself with the very long list of HLAC standards or, even better, hire an outside firm with the training and expertise to follow HLAC rules to the letter.
CDC Guidelines for Laundry in Healthcare Facilities
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is considered the national standard of healthcare hygiene. When in doubt, follow the CDC’s Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Healthcare Facilities to ensure you’re meeting high standards for medical linens.
CDC guidelines for laundry in healthcare facilities focus on preserving and promoting public health, which involves cleaning fabrics to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Among many other guidelines, the CDC recommends using a temperature of at least 160° F for a minimum of 25 minutes to destroy microorganisms.
Outsourced Medical Scrubs vs. In-House and Home Washing
Most U.S. healthcare companies now use an outsourced provider instead of handling laundry in-house. After reviewing the burdensome hospital guidelines and regulations for medical laundry care above, it’s easy to see why.
Healthcare hygiene takes expertise and the utmost care. So long as your outside provider follows AORN, HLAC, EPA, and CDC guidelines, they’ll almost certainly maintain a much higher standard than your in-house laundry process could accomplish.
It’s challenging for on-premises laundry facilities and healthcare workers to meet the high guidelines and regulations for hospital laundry cleanliness. Plus, acquiring and maintaining commercial-grade high-temperature washers and dryers can be cost-prohibitive.
Equipment rated for home use shouldn’t be used in healthcare facilities to clean medical scrubs and linens. AORN states, “Home washing machines may not have the adjustable parameters or controls required to achieve the necessary thermal measures (eg, water temperature); mechanical measures (eg, agitation); or chemical measures (eg, capacity for additives to neutralize the alkalinity of the water, soap, or detergent) to reduce microbial levels in soiled scrub attire.”
Never encourage your employees to wash their scrubs after work. Contaminated scrubs shouldn’t leave a medical facility due to issues with cross-contamination and improper disinfection. AORN guidelines include the caution, “Scrubs and other attire should not be laundered at home.”
ImageFIRST Meets and Exceeds the Best Practices in the Industry
Partner with ImageFIRST to launder your medical scrubs and rest easy with the knowledge that we follow the highest standards and procedures. Our industry-leading infection prevention practices and our fully managed scrub program are among the nation’s premier healthcare laundry services.
Highlights of ImageFIRST’s standards:
- We always launder with the AORN and CDC-recommended water temperature of 160° F required to remove significant quantities of microorganisms.
- We use EPA-registered, hospital-grade detergents and disinfectants.
- Contaminated items are always separated and handled appropriately under all relevant regulatory guidelines.
- Dead-on-contact washing kills 99.999% of pathogens.
- Bacteria-inhibiting softener adds another layer of bacterial control.
- Plastic wrapping keeps items clean during transportation and enhances your facility’s sense of safety and cleanliness.
When you choose ImageFIRST, you’re choosing excellence. We operate the largest number of HLAC-certified plants in the world and we lead the industry in infection prevention and quality assurance. Our director of safety and operation, John Hopper, was selected to serve on the national HLAC board of directors due to his extensive industry expertise.
To learn more about ImageFIRST’s infection prevention processes, please reach out to us and request a quote. We look forward to handling your medical linens with the industry’s best care!