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How to Handle Contaminated Laundry

contaminated laundry

Linens are some of the biggest known culprits of cross-contamination in healthcare facilities. Because of the conditions linens are exposed to, cross-contamination can occur easily.

While it can occur at any point of the linen cleaning process, one of the most crucial places where cross-contamination may occur is at the collection site.

Proper handling during and immediately after possible contamination, as the OSHA guidelines below show, helps ensure that contaminants are contained in one place before they get a chance to spread via transportation and handling.

What Constitutes ‘Contaminated Laundry’?

According to OSHA standards, contaminated laundry is laundry that has been contaminated with blood and Other Potentially Infectious Materials (OPIMs). These OPIMs can be anything from body waste and bodily fluids to used syringes and other sharps.

How to Handle Contaminated Laundry

OSHA lists the following guidelines on how to handle contaminated laundry:

  1.    Handle contaminated linens with minimal agitation. Linens must not be shaken during the process as contaminants may spread in the air and nearby surfaces.
  2.    Contaminated laundry must be bagged on site. Do not attempt to wash the contaminated items in the same room or location where it has been used.
  3.    Use a leak-proof bag to hold wet, contaminated laundry. These bags must be color-coded or labeled accordingly.
  4.    Wet, contaminated laundry that might leak or soak through the container must be transported with additional soak-through and leakage protection.
  5.    Use a color-coded or appropriately-labeled biohazard bag to contain and transport contaminated laundry. Linens that will be processed in a medical laundry facility that does not employ universal precautions in the handling of soiled laundry must be placed in a biohazard red bag. For laundry facilities that do follow universal precautions, the linens may be transported in bags that are appropriately labeled as biohazards.
  6.    Keep the bag away from the body and do not squeeze the bag during handling and transportation to avoid punctures from syringes and other sharps that may have been improperly contained within the contaminated laundry.

Decontaminating Contaminated Laundry

As important as it is to safely contain and transport contaminated laundry, laundering items is the peak of the decontamination process. To get the best, safest results on your medical linens, entrust your healthcare facility’s laundry to a company that has the expertise, experience, and facility to deliver Hygienically Clean results.
Learn more about the best results in medical linen services – contact MEDtegrity here to get in touch with one of our representatives or give us a call at 888-893-3334.

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