CDC Study: Proper Laundering Prevents Pathogen Transmission

Posted June 26, 2015 at 11:40 am

Recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research indicates that healthcare laundering, when done using the proper procedures, is effective at preventing the spread of infection. The study, which analyzed worldwide healthcare textiles outbreaks over the past 43 years, points to the current infection prevention strategies used by commercial laundry operators to manage a diverse textile inventory.

“Recent innovations in the laundry industry have led to major advances in laundry equipment, laundry chemicals, fiber and fabric technology, and laundry facility design and engineering,” said Lynne M. Sehulster, PhD, infectious disease epidemiologist at the CDC.

Of the cases of contaminated healthcare textiles studied in the CDC report, the research indicated several causes for the outbreaks, including:

  • contaminated washing machines
  • improper wash cycles or water temperatures, or issues regarding reused water (58%)
  • textile storage conditions that promoted growth of microbial pathogens (33%)
  • contamination of textiles during transit from the laundry facility to the hospital (8%)

It’s important to ensure “every step is taken to maintain the hygienic quality of healthcare textiles prior to use,” Sehulster said in a press release. She also noted the importance of storing and transporting laundered healthcare textiles in contamination-free areas. In the event of an outbreak, however, microbial sampling is not sufficient evidence to identify the laundry process as the source of the problem. “Each of the distinct operations of the laundry-handling process needs to be evaluated in order to pinpoint the root of the problem.”

For more details on the study, click here. Healthcare launderers that want to certify that their operation meets the proper operating procedures and produces hygienically clean linens for hospitals and other healthcare providers can click here for more information on TRSA’s Hygienically Clean certification program.