protection for healthcare professionals and the people they care for, especially when compared to a standard high street item of clothing.

INFECTION PREVENTION In the healthcare sector, professionals should be wearing fabrics that have antimicrobial properties capable of reducing bacteria finding their way on to garments. For example, Sanitized is an anti-bacterial hygiene function that can be applied to fabrics during the finishing process.

This technology is used on a range of products. For instance, you may well find it applied to work surfaces, bedding and even shoes, as the antimicrobial properties stop bacteria forming and footwear from smelling. It’s unusual to find this protection on standard high street fashion products though. And even if you do, there is no guarantee the garment will offer the level of durability required to maintain those qualities over regular washing.

DURABILITY The fabrics used to create healthcare uniforms are designed to be much more durable than those used in everyday fashion, and for good reason. Hospital guidelines say staff should be washing their uniforms at 62°C to kill any harmful bacteria, and that those uniforms should be washed separately to staff’s personal clothing.

A Uniform Approach

Charles Wilson, UK Sales Manager at workwear fabric specialist Carrington,

explains why uniforms are an important part of infection prevention within healthcare.

When you think about the day-to-day tasks of a healthcare professional, whether it’s taking bloods, applying dressings or helping to move patients, it’s not unusual for substances to be transferred to a worker’s clothes. Where a spillage is involved, a stain will be noticeable but, when we’re talking about microbes, the transference is not as obvious. None-the-less, it’s imperative that healthcare professionals and institutions take steps to prevent these from spreading.

We commonly see hand sanitisers on the walls of care homes and hospitals as we know anyone entering a health centre may potentially be carrying harmful bacteria. This is reassuring to see, but the steps taken to stop the spread of infection shouldn’t stop at the door. That’s why uniforms have been designed to tackle this specific problem and offer

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These expectations, alongside health workers needing to wash their uniform at the end of every shiſt, mean that the fabric must be able to withstand regular washing at high temperatures. Standard retail clothing is not designed to be washed at those temperatures and is unlikely to survive the intense, regular washing cycles expected of healthcare garments.

COMFORT Another key reason to choose a uniform designed for the task in hand is the consideration given to the manual work that will be carried out. It’s important for workers to wear clothing that is lightweight, offers ease of movement and is breathable, if they are going to remain comfortable over a long shiſt.

For example, if professionals are operating in a warm care home, they can become hot and sweaty when physical activity is required. But, when the fabric is breathable, it will help lower skin temperature and prevent moisture from being trapped close to the skin.

Stretch qualities can also be introduced to ensure the garment doesn’t restrict the worker’s movements and the fabric will be made as light as possible. There needs to be a balance here as density helps with durability, but typically these fabrics will weigh between 175-195 grams per square metre.

Clothes bought on the high street, which are focused on fashion, are not designed with these considerations in mind. But as textile technology continues to develop you can expect uniforms produced for the healthcare sector to continue to improve the way they stop the spread of infections and ensure their worker’s comfort.

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