It is important to understand the proper procedures for washing fabrics in hospitals, including patient clothing, bed sheets, room towels, surgical towels, and medical staff uniforms.
The textiles that need to be washed in hospitals include patient clothing, bed sheets, ward towels, surgical towels, medical staff work clothes, etc. All patients are carriers of pathogens (bacteria/viruses) and are also potential infected individuals. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure the safety of the entire logistics process of washing, retrieving, and delivering medical textiles and uniforms, and to thoroughly prevent all possible opportunities for contact with infectious microorganisms and completely block cross-contamination. The washing process must achieve hygienic isolation by ensuring logistics cleanliness and separating clean and dirty items. All textiles must flow in one direction to eliminate the cross-infection source of dirty clothes and prohibit air from flowing from the dirty clothes area to the clean area. The washing equipment uses an isolation-style (two-door) washing machine, with the front door for dirty clothes and the back door for clean clothes, separated by a wall.
2. Source Control
To prevent cross-infection during the washing process of medical textiles, the key is to control the source. The sorting of textiles must be done before leaving the hospital, strictly according to the classification and isolation packaging of infected and non-infected patients’ textiles, doctor and patient textiles, children and adult textiles, newborn textiles, etc. Dirty textiles should be isolated and stored separately and washed as soon as possible. Before washing, the washing company must sort the textiles again according to their type and divide them by fabric texture, color, dirt type, and dirt level for separate and isolated washing. Suitable detergents must be used according to the different textile situations.
After receiving the textiles, they must be sorted and pre-washed. The textiles must be sorted into different washing machines according to the following main categories: 1) medical staff work clothes and textiles used during duty hours; 2) common ward textiles; 3) contaminated textiles (textiles contaminated by excreta and bloodstains, etc.); 4) infectious textiles (textiles confirmed to have infectious sources, such as textiles in infectious disease hospitals and infectious disease departments). The washing machine loading capacity should be controlled at 70%-80% of the total loading capacity, leaving sufficient liquid flow space and appropriate detergent concentration to repeatedly impact and remove dirt, ensuring washing quality and avoiding too much loading that affects washing quality.
4. Logistics And Cleanliness
The logistics process of medical textiles is composed of washing areas, drying and ironing areas, folding areas, and clean textile storage areas, which are separated from the dirty textile storage area. The operators of dirty and clean textiles strictly perform different tasks to prevent secondary contamination of clean textiles by the operators.
5. Medical Fabric Hygiene
The hygiene of medical fabrics is of utmost importance as all patients are potential carriers of pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. Therefore, it is crucial to prevent any chance of contact with infectious microorganisms and completely eliminate cross-contamination throughout the entire process of washing, collecting, and delivering medical fabrics and uniforms. The washing and disinfection of medical fabrics are first and foremost a matter of source control. Before leaving the hospital, the fabrics, including patient clothing, bed sheets, ward towels, surgical towels, and medical staff uniforms, must be sorted and packaged separately according to categories such as infected and non-infected patients, doctors and patients, adults and children, and newborns. Contaminated fabrics must be isolated and stored separately and washed as soon as possible. The washing company will then sort the fabrics again according to their texture, color, type, and degree of dirt, and wash them separately with appropriate detergents. The washing process must ensure logistics and cleanliness, with dirty and clean laundry being strictly separated. The washing machines used should be isolation-type (with two doors) to prevent the flow of air from the dirty laundry area to the clean area. All textiles must flow in one direction to eliminate the source of cross-infection from dirty clothing. The fabrics must be washed in a sanitary isolation mode, with a workflow consisting of washing, drying, ironing, folding, and storing clean fabrics separately.
6. Quality Standards
Medical fabric hygiene standards require that the fabric be free of stains and discoloration, especially white fabrics should be kept clean and free of graying and yellowing. Additionally, medical staff uniforms, bedding, and sheets should be properly ironed, with no odd smells, foreign objects, or damage.
Microbiological indicators must also be met, with a total bacterial count of less than 200 cfu/25cm2 and no detectable pathogenic microorganisms. The PH value of the fabric should be between 6.5-7.4.
Medical fabrics should remain soft and durable, with no signs of discoloration, stiffness, or damage, even after multiple washings.
7. Water Quality
Water quality is a critical factor in ensuring high-quality medical fabric hygiene. Hard water can cause damage to clothing, leading to graying and yellowing, fiber and color damage, and stiffness. Minerals present in hard water can also reduce the effectiveness of detergents and bleach, causing damage to the fabric.
As such, water used for washing medical fabrics should undergo softening treatment to ensure the highest quality.
Sorting and pre-washing are critical steps in ensuring high-quality medical fabric hygiene. Cloth items must be sorted into various categories, such as medical staff uniforms, regular patient linens, soiled linens, and infectious linens. Pre-washing involves washing the sorted items in a washing machine to remove any debris, dust, or visible stains before they undergo thorough washing and disinfection.
It is important to control the machine load to ensure that the washing is effective and of high quality.