On-Premise Laundry Guidelines for Nursing Homes & Care Facilities

Good laundry practices can be the difference between keeping residents healthy or spreading viruses.  With the right training and proper handling from start to finish, you can keep your facility’s linens sanitary and protect the health of your residents and employees. Help safeguard nursing home and care facility staff and residents from potential exposure to contaminants during laundry collection, transport, and sorting using these guidelines.

Notice: This article includes a summary of information from Laundry and Bedding Recommendations provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is not an exhaustive list and should not be taken as such. Laundry facility managers must consult federal, state, and local guidelines to ensure their practices meet all applicable requirements and regulations.

Infection Control Laundry Guidelines for Collection & Transport

Following the proper safety measures during laundry collection and transport can help prevent cross-contamination. Employees who collect linens should refrain from unnecessary shaking or agitating so particles do not become airborne. Always carry soiled bed sheets, towels, or other materials in a laundry bag or cart, rather than by hand. During transport, soiled linen must be securely contained in a cart or leak-proof bag that is properly labeled with its contents.

Care Facility Laundry Room Guidelines

A care home laundry room should take precautions to avoid cross-contamination between clean and soiled linens and to keep employees safe. This includes the laundry room setup, which should: 
  • Provide a hand washing station for employees to use before, during, and after handling linens.
  • Be in an isolated location or be in a room that is setup at a negative pressure to trap contaminants to prevent spreading viruses. 
  • Have partitions or walls to keep clean and soiled laundry segregated. 
  • Employ equipment to help prevent cross-contamination, such as Staph Guard® by Milnor. These machines utilize barriers and two sets of doors to keep clean and soiled linens separated, plus they have technology to ensure contaminated air isn’t discharged near clean items.

Best Practices for Handling Laundry

Attendants handling soiled laundry should wear personal protective equipment, including gowns, gloves, and masks. While sorting linen or loading machines, staff should remain alert for hard objects left in uniforms or residents’ clothing (syringes, needles, and personal property) that may damage machines or contaminate a wash cycle. Employees should wash their hands before handling clean linens. Fresh laundry should be properly ironed and folded so it is stored in an organized fashion to prevent contamination from dust, dirt, or debris. Clean laundry should be transported to areas in the care facility in designated carts or freshly laundered bags. 

Laundry Process in Nursing Homes

An organized process that includes presorted linens and programmed wash cycles can improve the operations and end results of a care home’s laundry facility. Grouping linen by type, soil level, and resident/facility property makes it easier to dial in the most effective dilution, chemical and detergent mix, water temperature and bath time, and rinse quality for each load. Commercial washing machines have easy-to-use LED displays that simplify operations for employees so they can select the washer program for the load type and employ a precise, sanitary wash. Follow washing with a thorough dry using a commercial dryer which uses moisture sensors and reverse tumbling to ensure there is no mildew-causing dampness remaining in the linen. And because you started with a sorted load, it is easy to streamline the finishing process (folding, ironing, separating resident/facility property) for improved efficiency and to eliminate confusion and accidental re-contamination. 

Manufacturer Recommended Maintenance & Operation

Nursing home laundry facilities should follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning equipment and the associated chemicals. Ignoring setup and operational best practices can lead to a range of issues from a small hose leak to an improper wash to a dryer fire—putting residents and staff at risk. Whether you service your machines in-house or rely on contracted maintenance services offered by Western State Design, keeping current on scheduled maintenance requirements will help keep the equipment in good working order, prolong its lifespan, and avoid unnecessary downtime.
Get great results using these good laundry practices and the right commercial equipment. Contact a knowledgeable Western State Design representative to start planning a remodel or update of your nursing home laundry facility and equipment today.