A recent article in Clean Link discusses a largely unnoticed problem in hospitals; the spread of bacteria in laundered towels. The spread of dangerous bacteria and pathogens causes Hospital acquired infections (HAIs) which, according to the Center of Disease Control, account for approximately 99,000 unnecessary deaths and tens of billions of dollars in costs annually in the US alone. While Hospital acquired infections are well-known and heavily documented, it is a new revelation that they could potentially be spread by towels thought to be clean.
Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist from University of Arizona, conducted a study of 10 Arizona hospitals on the spread of harmful bacteria and pathogens. Dr. Gerba collected three “clean” cloth towels from each hospital and analyzed them for the presence of bacteria. His findings were alarming, 93% of the laundered towels tested positive for dangerous bacteria such as E. Coli and Klebsiella among others.
Gerba pointed to inadequate laundering practices as one of the main culprits. According to Dr. Gerba: “If they’re folding these [laundered] towels, they need to make sure they disinfect the tables first. They could be taking their dirty laundry down and piling it on the table before putting it in the machine.” Gerba also explained that if a janitor or custodian has dirty hands from handling dirty laundry, they could be spreading the bacteria to clean laundry. He further elaborated that a janitor’s hands could get tainted when putting dirty laundry in the washer and then putting wet laundry in the dryer, which could infect the clean laundry.
Water soluble laundry bags, combined with hand washing and other best practices, can drastically reduce the spread of harmful bacteria and pathogens. Water soluble bags are made from non-toxic polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) that will fully dissolve in water at temperatures at 140º F or above. They include dissolvable ties to seal the bags once the laundry is placed inside. When using water soluble bags, janitorial staff will not have to come in direct contact with dirty laundry and will be able to place the bag with the contaminated laundry directly in the washer, preventing the staff from becoming contaminated. The bags, which can hold wet or damp laundry for several hours, will not damage drains or sewer systems, and are environmentally friendly, leaving behind no residue. Water soluble bags, in combination with other best practices, are an inexpensive and logical product for any hospital or long term care clinic. They provide a low cost solution that will help reduce the spread of Hospital acquired infections, which results in healthier, happier patients and significantly lower costs.
Check out Elkay’s selection of Water Soluble Bags:
|Item #||Product Name||Size||
|WSB2633||26 x 33 Water Soluble Bag||26 X 33||.8 mil||100||CS|
|WSB2839||28 x 39 Water Soluble Bag||28 X 39||.8 mil||100||CS|
|WSB3639||36 x 39″ Water Soluble Bag||36 X 39||.8 mil||100||CS|