Home Laundering Not As Effective

A recent study in the American Journal of Infection Control compared the effectiveness of home laundering vs. hospital laundering of healthcare worker scrubs. The results found that home-washed scrubs had significantly higher levels of bacteria than hospital-washed scrubs. Forty-four percent of the home-washed scrubs tested positive for bacteria. Furthermore, 79 percent of the unwashed scrubs tested positive for potentially harmful bacteria. Overall, the study found that home-washing was not a successful way to decontaminate scrubs. The home-washed scrubs had significantly higher bacteria counts than the other washed garments or new garments.

The article infers that in order to save money on operational costs, many hospitals allow staff to wash scrubs and other uniforms in their own homes. It recommended that hospitals wash garments in water that reaches 71.1° C for at least three minutes, according to CDC requirements. Standard laundering procedures are essential and uniforms should be laundered at an accredited healthcare laundering facility. However, as this and other studies have shown, re-contamination of scrubs happens very quickly when put back into use.

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