A recent survey conducted by Contec found that a majority of infection control practitioners (ICPs) do not trust their hospital’s laundering system. Of respondents, 72 percent would not wipe their mug or drinking glass with a freshly laundered hospital mopping pad or wipe. In fact, 42 percent have noted trash, debris or hair in freshly cleaned textiles. The poll was conducted at the most recent Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology Conference (APIC).
“The feedback from these ICPs is alarming and underscores the broken laundering process that exists in healthcare,” says Jack McBride, CEO at Contec. “Pathogens are surviving hospital laundering processes, placing patients (and hospital visitors) at risk for dangerous healthcare associated infections (HAIs). It is time for everyone involved in infection control to review their current laundering methods and take steps to reduce this risk.”
According to the survey, lack of awareness among hospital management may be contributing to this risk. 62 percent of ICPs said they have not seen their hospital senior leadership conduct a visual audit of their facility’s laundry process from start to finish, nor have they seen personnel test the compatibility of their disinfectant and laundered microfiber (60 percent). More than half of respondents (54 percent) are not familiar with, or are unsure of, the Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council and their standards for laundry inspection and “load” processes.
Research by Contec presented at the conference and published in the American Journal of Infection Control, Effectiveness and Bioburden of Microfiber Mops Used to Clean Healthcare Environmental Surfaces, reveals 50 percent of laundered mops and wipes still contain unsterile, living bacteria levels that exceed national standards. Microscopic images of microfiber flat mops were scanned before and after laundering. Dirt and debris was discovered entrapped in laundered microfibers. Moreover, residual dirt in laundered mops has been shown to neutralize disinfectants, and laundry processes of mops and wipes can diminish quality, enabling cross-contamination. By contrast, disposable microfiber cleaning products offer a superior clean, optimize the power of disinfectants and eliminate the risk of cross-contamination posed by relaundered products.