In recent years we have seen a significant trend towards laundering at low temperatures i domestic settings to conserve energy. It is important however to ask the question “Is low temperature laundering associated with increased infection risk?”
This slide presentation was presented at the Infection Prevention Society conference Sept 2016. Firstly it examines the extent of the risk of infection associated with clothing and household linens. It then reviews data on the hygiene effectiveness of machine laundering and the factors which affect efficacy. The data suggest that there is significant reduction in hygiene efficacy at lower temperatures.
The main conclusions are:
• Laundry Infection risks – although less than risk of infection transmission via hands, high frequency hand contact surfaces etc are risk factors for spread of infection and spread of antibiotic resistant strains in the community as well as in hospitals
• These risks must be suitably managed as part of multibarrier approach to hygiene in home and community settings.
• This must include managing risks of spread of antibiotic resistant strains and C. difficile
• Hygiene standards of laundering must be sustained
• We need to lobby laundry detergent/appliance manufacturers to take laundry hygiene more seriously i.e. take account of hygiene issues as well as sustainability
• It is important to understand that visibly clean is not necessarily hygienically clean, and:
• ensure laundry machine reaches specified temperatures
• develop ways (products/appliances) which ensure hygiene efficacy of machine laundering is sustained - as well as sustainable
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