The Dangers of Washing Medical Uniforms at Home
The issue of laundering has long been a point of contention, especially amongst professionals and experts who cannot agree on whether or not domestic washing can safely remove microbes from medical uniforms.
For defenders of the practice, domestic laundering of medical uniforms can be made to be as effective as its professional medical laundry service counterpart with the right combination of water temperature, method, and detergent.
But is that really enough to rid uniforms of nosocomial (hospital-induced) infection-carrying pathogens? Does the good ol’ home washing machine have what it takes to clean off something as starkly dangerous as MRSA?
What Lies Beneath
To understand the importance of proper laundry, as well as the dangers of washing medical uniforms at home, let’s look into what we are really up against here: the bacteria that lurk on the surface of post-shift scrub suits and white coats.
One study found that patient interaction as well as contact with hospital surfaces caused transmission of pathogens to nursing uniforms. And what exactly did they find lingering in the sleeves and pockets of their clean-looking uniforms? They found methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Acinetobacter baumanii.
With the number of patients and the frequency of contact that nurses alone go through in a single shift, it is not at all surprising that this type of transmission and contamination can occur in up to 60% of healthcare professionals.
The threats of Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) and the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria have real consequences including extended hospital stays, additional costs, and sometimes even death.
Dangers of Washing Medical Uniforms at Home
Just how inadequate and dangerous is it to wash medical garments at home?
- More than High Temperatures. Some well-meaning people defend the home laundering of medical uniforms saying it all boils down to temperature and time. Unfortunately, that is not enough and a recent study has debunked this. The study found a dangerously large amounts of pathogens lingering on the fabric even after extended time spent in the wash at high temperatures. Home laundering also misses the multiple layers of washing that normally comes with professional medical laundry services.
- Contact and Cross-Contamination Risks. Taking scrubs and medical uniforms out of medical facilities, uncontained and unsealed, is taking whatever pathogens have clung to it out into the world. This means risking the possibility of contact with everything – from fellow commute passengers to kids’ belongings to all other clothing that gets laundered at home in the same machine that will process the medical uniforms.
- Laundry Procedures. In a dedicated laundry facility for medical uniforms and linens, there are protective measures put in place to guard against cross-contamination. Uniforms are properly labeled and even isolated when necessary. Post wash, the washing machines are thoroughly disinfected to remove any and all traces of pathogens that may have lingered.
- Storage and Transportation. Medical uniforms washed at home do not get any special storage arrangements, leaving them exposed to whatever pathogens exist in the home. This raises the risks of the uniforms catching new pathogens that its wearers can bring into work and endanger patients. With professional medical uniform service providers, washed garments are kept in sealed containers after pressing and folding to limit exposure during transportation.
Get the Safest Solution to Your Medical Uniform Laundry Needs!
Take no risk when it comes to the safety of your patients and medical professionals alike! End the dangerous practice of allowing medical uniforms to be washed at home and switch to the safer, more hygienic way of getting your apparels cleaned: switch to MEDtegrity!
MEDtegrity is one of America’s largest and most reliable networks of medical linen care service providers that deliver efficient, hygienic, and high-quality care for your medical garments and linens.
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