Healthcare Textile Services

Author(s):
Carol McLay, DrPH, BSN, RN, CIC Infection Prevention Consultant

Lexington, KY

Published:
March 10, 2016
Revised:
March 10, 2016

Abstract

Healthcare textiles are fabric products that touch patients and employees directly or indirectly on a daily basis. Contaminated textiles in healthcare facilities are known to be a source of substantial numbers of pathogenic microorganisms. However, adherence to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control 1 and compliance with the mandated requirements in the Occupational Standards and Health Administration (OSHA) Bloodborne Pathogens Standard 2 are effective in keeping the risk of actual disease transmission to patients and   healthcare workers (HCWs) negligible. This exemplifies the importance of the entire laundering process to render textiles safe and suitable for reuse. The key elements in the laundering process include water temperature, type of detergents, disinfectant (i.e., sodium hypochlorite [chlorine bleach]), rinsing, and finishing. The process is supplemented by common sense and hygienic approaches to collection and transport. The use of a defined and effective laundering process, the parameters of which are established in the industry, is essential for the production of hygienically clean textiles.