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THE THERMAL COUNTDOWN


Amanda Dufrane, Care Segment Manager for Electrolux Professional explains the many different benefits of thermal disinfection.


Laundry practice in the healthcare sector can act as the gateway to infection outbreak, or infection prevention. While it might not be for the faint hearted, the fact of the matter is that soiled linen is likely to come into contact with all manner of bodily fluids, some of which could contain very harmful microbes such as bloodborne pathogens or Clostridium difficile (C-diff).


“A barrier washing system, which


ensures that items are loaded from one side of the machine when dirty and


unloaded from a separate, clean side when the wash cycle is complete.”


When it comes to handling soiled laundry, thermal disinfection – coupled with a proper laundry cycle management system – is the overarching way to stop the spread of infection in its tracks.


But what does ‘thermal disinfection’ really mean?


In short, it is the use of above-average wash temperatures for a set cycle time to ensure any potentially infectious microbes are killed. This can be done in a number of ways, such as 93°C for one minute, 71°C for three minutes, or 65°C for at least 10 minutes. However, wash cycles which are neither hot enough nor long enough will not be able to fully destroy the potentially infectious bacteria.


So, what processes can laundry operators in the healthcare industry employ to guarantee thermal disinfection?


48 | HEALTHCARE HYGIENE


While some healthcare sites continue to outsource their laundry, doing so risks linen being exposed to a number of different contaminants, above and beyond those linked to the healthcare sector. Crucially, operators do not have full control of the transportation process, so in all honesty can have no guarantee that outsourced laundry is cleaned to the required standards.


As such, all hospital and healthcare environments should employ an on-premises laundry, to ensure that all linen is washed in line with infection control laundry guidelines.


Avoiding recontamination of freshly washed laundry is also essential for preventing infection. One of the safest ways to achieve this is to employ a barrier washing system, which ensures that items are loaded from one side of the machine when dirty and unloaded from a separate, clean side when the wash cycle is complete. This eliminates the need for operators to re-enter an unhygienic environment and, consequently, minimises the risk of linen being re- contaminated once it has been cleaned.


Operators can also gain further peace of mind by employing tools that can validate the wash temperatures of each cycle.


Electrolux Professional’s Temp°Check is one such process validation tool, which enables operators to check that full thermal disinfection has taken place, and can store validation reports for up to 1,000 cycles.


Ultimately, laundry practice for hospitals or healthcare sites can be make or break when it comes to preventing infection. Given the high volume of potential contaminants likely to find their way into healthcare linen, failing to achieve full thermal disinfection could easily pave the way for future outbreaks.


www.electrolux.com/professional twitter.com/TomoCleaning


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