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Efficient commercial washing machines are important for infection control in care homes

Efficient commercial washing machines are important for infection control in care homes

14/08/2012

Selecting the right commercial washing machines for the Care Home Sector requires knowledge of infection control, how to plan a designated on-site laundry area, the current WRAS approval process and what busy care home laundry managers want from commercial washing machines and industrial tumble dryers. The growing team of engineers at Southern Contracts, in Bournemouth, is providing the answers.

There are 3 areas to consider when choosing the right commercial washing machine for a care home:
What features does a commercial washing need to have to meet strict infection control guidelines?
How to look after the commercial washing machines to save money and minimise risk from infection?
Which commercial washing machines and maintenance plans to consider?
The Health and Safety Executive defines the process of laundering contaminated linen as one that requires treatment that is effectively a wash-based disinfection process, and is required to avoid cross infection from re-used items. Therefore, effective laundry infection control by the care home sector; care homes, nursing homes and hospitals require specific on-site commercial washing machines that meet the following criteria:

Sluice and thermal disinfection programmes that conform to NHS Health Service Guidelines HSG (95)18 Thermal disinfection, is disinfection which is achieved by high temperatures.
Commercial washing machines that hold the temperature at 65oC for a minimum of 10 minutes within the wash cycle; or at 71oC for not less than 3 minutes.
A pre-wash sluice cycle for heavily soiled or infected linen.
The commercial washing machines need to be programmable for precise control over wash results and infection control.
These commercial washing machines should be professionally installed and maintained with precautions like a cover over the drainage pipe to prevent contamination by creating aerosols.
The department of Health also stresses that Industrial tumble dryers should be used to dry all clothing and linen in care homes. For heat-sensitive fabrics the commercial washing machines can be programmed at a low temperature of 40°C and then the laundry dried in an industrial tumble dryer at a minimum of 60°C.
A regular service and maintenance inspection schedule should be put in place for all commercial washing machines and industrial tumble dryers, for the care homes’ regulating body to review.


The Health protection Agency (HPA) gives further advice for the management of laundry, stating that the linen and clothing should only be washed in a dedicated laundry room using commercial washing machines and industrial drying machines. 

The room should be organised so that there is no possible contact between used and clean laundry. 
Used linen and clothing must always be kept in laundry bags or baskets and not loose on the floor.

This helpful HPA video outlines the preparation of laundry for safe washing in care home commercial washing machines.


To provide further practical management advice, specific to infection control of care home laundry, Southern Contracts draws on its 48 years as industrial laundry equipment experts, to recommend other ways of protecting both the commercial washing machine from costly damage and to ensure that the risk to staff and care home residents is minimal, these guidelines include:

1. Commercial washing machines should not be overloaded as this will prevent the laundry from being washed effectively.
2. Laundry staff should wear gloves
3. Use the appropriate bag category.
4. Never to open the inner water-soluble bags. 
5. Bags should be transferred to the commercial washing machines for decontamination. 
6. Use appropriate disinfectant, e.g. oxygen-releasing or bleaching agent added to the washing process. 
7. Regularly washing items below 65°C without using a bleaching agent may allow microbial biofilms to build up in the commercial washing machines.
8. Train the operating staff in the correct use of the commercial washing machines.

9. Ensure plentiful water supply, adequate drainage and use softened water in the commercial washing machines to prevent lime scale build-up.

10. Use good quality detergents, auto-dosed exact amounts of detergent, dispensed at the correct time in the wash.

11. All items should then enter a drying process within industrial tumble dryers. 
12. Once removed the laundry should be stored in a clean area, above floor level and not be kept in the laundry area.
13. Maintain the commercial washing machines in a clean, build-up free and a dust-free condition 
14. Regular maintenance and rapid repairs minimises downtime and productivity of the commercial washing machines.


This is where Southern Contracts can make a real difference to the efficiency of a care home laundry infection control policy.

We recommend using one of our 15 Electrolux or Miele commercial washing machines, like the Electrolux W455H 6kg high spin washer, which is a very reliable, robust and simple to operate commercial washing machine, ideal for all applications. 
Can be free standing, undercounter or stacked with T4130. Incorporates type "A" airgap (WRAS regulations) and Thermal disinfection and sluice (gravity drain) (HSG95/18).
We supply a full range of small load, commercial washing machines and commercial laundry equipment optimised to the needs of in-house care home ‘self-help’ laundrettes, complete with wall poster operating instructions that minimise staff involvement and maximise equipment efficiency. These machines are designed as energy efficient, ‘green’ machines that reduce environmental impact and operating costs resulting from heavy use.

Give Southern Contracts a call to discuss how your care home can improve the efficiency of your commercial washing machine and improve infection control.

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