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  • Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, Volume 32, Issue 11
  • November 2011, pp. 1103-1108

Effectiveness of Low-Temperature Domestic Laundry on the Decontamination of Healthcare Workers' Uniforms

  • N. Lakdawala (a1), J. Pham (a1), M. Shah (a1) and J. Holton (a1)
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/662183
  • Published online: 02 January 2015
Abstract
Objective.

Most professionals in the healthcare environment wear uniforms. For the purpose of this study, we concentrated on nurses' uniforms. In the United Kingdom, many nurses are expected to launder their uniforms at home by using a domestic washing machine that frequently has low-temperature wash cycles. We have investigated whether the use of low-temperature wash cycles results in a microbiologically acceptable product to wear on the wards.

Methods.

We have assessed the bioburden on uniforms before and after laundry and the effectiveness of low-temperature wash cycles and ironing on removal of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Acinetobacter baumannii. We did not assess the role of tumble drying.

Results.

We demonstrate contamination of uniforms by gram-negative bacteria after wash, the removal of MRSA at low-temperature wash cycles in the presence of detergent, and the eradication of gram-negative bacteria after ironing.

Conclusions.

Our conclusions are that laundry in a domestic situation at 60°C (140°F) for 10 minutes is sufficient to decontaminate hospital uniforms and reduces the bacterial load by more than 7-log reduction, that items left in the pockets are decontaminated to the same extent, that the addition of either a biological detergent or a nonbiological detergent is beneficial in removing MRSA from experimentally contaminated swatches, and that uniforms become recontaminated with low numbers of principally gram-negative bacteria after laundry but that these are effectively removed by ironing.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Clinical Microbiology, Whittington Hospital and Department of Health and Social Sciences, University of Middlesex, London NW4 4BT, United Kingdom (John.holton@whittington.nhs.uk)
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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

1.W Loh , W Ng , J Holton . Bacterial flora on the white coats of medical students. J Hosp Infect 2000;45:6568.

2.M Dixon . Neck ties as vectors for nosocomial infection. Intensive Care Med 2000;26:250.

3.I Ditchburn . Should doctors wear ties? J Hosp Infect 2006;63:227228.

4.H Shintani , F Hayashi , Y Sakakibara , S Kurosu , A Miki , T Furu-kawa . Relationship between the contamination of the nurse's caps and their period of use in terms of microorganism numbers. Biocontrol Sci 2006:11:1116.

5.I Callaghan . Bacterial contamination of nurses' uniforms: a study. Nurs Stand 1998;13:3742.

7.JA Wilson , HP Loveday , PN Hoffman , RJ Pratt . Uniforms: an evidence review to the microbiological significance of uniforms and uniform policy in the prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections. J Hosp Infect 2007;66:301307.

11.SN Patel , J Murray-Leonard , APR Wilson . Laundering of hospital staff uniforms at home. J Hosp Infect 2006;62:8993.

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Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology
  • ISSN: 0899-823X
  • EISSN: 1559-6834
  • URL: /core/journals/infection-control-and-hospital-epidemiology
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