Why the heat of the wash matters when working in the Medical & Pharmaceutical industry



Pharmacists working in Lab

Washing laundry the correct way is crucial when working in the medical and pharmaceutical industry. But what is the correct way? Is it colour sorting? Is it washing contaminated items separately to uncontaminated clothing? 

It is commonly known that microorganisms can survive on inanimate objects and surfaces for extended periods of time. These surfaces and objects then play host to growing bacteria before an unbeknownst individual walks past and comes into contact with the bacteria themselves.

A study conducted by the Infectious Disease Research Group by De Montfort University, studied contamination levels on nurses uniforms when they took it home to launder themselves. Contaminated uniforms that were washed with sterile items at 40 degrees were found to have a small amount of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria on them and also contaminated the other sterile items in the wash. 

Out of the four hospitals investigated, there were discrepancies between the organisation’s recommendations on temperature of the wash cycle, large variations between the instructions regarding use of detergents, the process of drying the uniforms and washing contaminated uniforms with other items. 

It was found that 26% of staff also wore their uniforms for an average of two shifts before washing it, increasing possible contamination between shifts. It is recommended that uniforms are washed after every shift. The study concluded that trusting employees to wash uniforms correctly was impossible to monitor, as staff may not always follow correct procedures when laundering. 

A few key factors for washing uniforms at home include, washing uniforms immediately after each shift for a minimum of 10 minutes at 60 degrees. Uniforms should also be stored separately from other clothing, regardless if the uniform is cleaned. A laundry detergent should also always be used.

Don’t want to rely on your staff for the health & safety of your work environment? Outsource your laundry!

At Alsco, we have a managed uniform rental service, which is a cost effective solution to purchasing uniforms and relying on your staff for a clean work environment. We will provide you with an agreed amount of garments, and will come and collect the soiled, used laundry while providing you with a freshly laundered set of garments. 

All of our garments are laundered with strict adherence to heat of wash, ensuring that your staff are not hosts to unknown bacteria between shifts. Get in touch with us today to organise your staff’s uniforms needs!



Disclaimer – These articles are provided to supply general health, safety, and green information to people responsible for the same in their organisation. The articles are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs.