Home Hygiene & Health
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Effectiveness of Laundering Processes Used in Domestic (home) Settings (2013)

The aim of this review is to summarise and evaluate the scientific evidence on the hygiene effectiveness of domestic (home) machine laundering in reducing risks of transmission of infections and of antibiotic resistant strains amongst family members (consumers).  In order to save energy, increasingly home laundering is carried out at lower temperatures (30-40°C). A key aim of this review is to evaluate whether and to what extent the hygiene effectiveness of domestic laundry procedures may be compromised by laundering at temperatures of 30°-40C, as opposed to 60°C. 

The review evaluates some 25 studies of the effectiveness of laundering in a domestic washing machine against bacterial, viral and fungal strains.  The data was summarised and evaluated to see what conclusions can be drawn about the separate and combined effects of wash and rinse cycles, powder/liquid formulation and temperature in reducing microbial contamination on clothing, household linens (towels, sheets etc) cleaning cloths etc, and the impact of reductions in the use heat on the effectiveness of machine laundering processes.  The data was analysed to assess what conclusions can reasonably be drawn about the effectiveness of laundering in reducing infection risks, and what further research is needed to reach clearer conclusions. 

The data was also used to formulate consumer guidance on conditions for domestic (home) laundering of clothing in the domestic setting. This document was prepared as a special project by the IFH.

The report was drafted by Professor SF Bloomfield and reviewed by a number of external experts for comment.  A revised version was then submitted to the other members of the IFH Scientific Advisory Board comprising Professor M. Exner, Professor E.A Scott, Professor C. Signorelli to discuss and develop the review and agree on final content.

Author: Bloomfield SF, Exner M, Signorelli C, Scott EA

Download File: Effectiveness_of_laundering_IFHreport_21102013.pdf

Published: 21/10/2013

Publication Type: Review

Publisher: IFH