Lessons in Linen
Following Aseptic Technique in the Laundry Department
By Kelly M. Pyrek
- Handle contaminated laundry as little as possible with minimal agitation.
- Bag contaminated laundry at the location of use. Do not sort or rinse laundry at the location where it was used.
- Place wet contaminated laundry in leak-proof, and color-coded or labeled containers, at the location where it was used.
- Whenever contaminated laundry is wet and presents a reasonable likelihood of soak-through or of leakage from the bag or container, the laundry shall be placed and transported in bags or containers which prevent soak-through and/or leakage of fluids to the exterior.
- Contaminated laundry must be placed and transported in bags or containers labeled with the biohazard symbol or put in red bags.
- In a facility that utilizes universal precautions in the handling of all soiled laundry alternative labeling or color-coding is sufficient if it permits all employees to recognize the containers as requiring compliance with standard precautions.
- Use red bags or bags marked with the biohazard symbol, if the facility where items are laundered does not use SP for all laundry.
- Contaminated laundry bags should not be held close to the body or squeezed when transporting to avoid punctures from improperly discarded syringes.
- Normal laundry cycles should be used according to the washer and detergent manufacturer's recommendations.
- Soiled linen can be transported in the hospital by cart or chute. Bagging linen is indicated if chutes are used, since improperly designed chutes can be a means of spreading microorganisms throughout the hospital.6
- Soiled linen may or may not be sorted in the laundry before being loaded into washer/extractor units. Sorting before washing protects both machinery and linen from the effects of objects in the linen and reduces the potential for recontamination of clean linen that sorting after washing requires. Sorting after washing minimizes the direct exposure of laundry personnel to infective material in the soiled linen and reduces airborne microbial contamination in the laundry.7 Protective apparel and appropriate ventilation can minimize these exposures.
- Contaminated needles and sharps shall not be bent, recapped or removed. No shearing or breaking is permitted.
- Follow sharps containerization guidelines: