Optimizing Hospital Laundry: Strategies, Hygiene, Equipment

Feb 5, 2024

Maintaining a safe and healthy environment for patients and staff is critical to the healthcare sector. Laundry management is one of the factors that should be addressed to achieve a hospital environment that promotes good health and well-being. 

Let us explore the importance of large-scale laundry in hospital settings, the challenges and strategies to optimise linen management, ensure hygiene and safety, and the role of quality equipment in ensuring that effective laundry management is observed.

Managing Large-Scale Laundry in Hospitals

Managing large-scale hospital laundries involves strict hygiene practices, efficient operations, and cost-effective strategies.

Hospitals must adhere to the AS/NZS 4146:2000 Australian New Zealand Laundry Standards that specify general laundry practice requirements for commercial, industrial, hospital, institutional, on-premise, and coin-operated laundries. These standards ensure that all soiled articles are treated as potential sources of infection, necessitating protective attire and appropriate precautions.

In terms of operations, hospitals can employ advanced technology to streamline their laundry processes. Some hospitals use digital tools and software to improve their laundry operations. These tools automate procedures such as linen tracking and counting. These improve efficiency and raise productivity.

The closure of on-site laundry facilities can lead to increased costs and logistical issues, as seen in the case of Waikato Hospital, which had to send their laundry over 200km to Auckland for cleaning.

Hospitals can implement effective linen management strategies to mitigate the loss. This can involve using a single platform to streamline the hospital laundry process. This reduces costs and improves efficiency.

Linen Storage in Hospital Laundry Management

Proper linen storage is crucial to hospital laundry management. The goal is to prevent cross-contamination and maintain safety after cleaning. Best practices for linen handling include always wearing reusable rubber gloves before handling soiled linen, never carrying soiled linen against the body, and consistently placing it in the designated container. 

Clean linen should be stored in designated areas protected from potential contamination sources, such as chemicals or pests. In terms of storage, clean linen should be stored in a designated area until ready for use. The linen can rest on the carts used for transport but should be covered to protect it from dust and dirt. 

The shelves that linens are resting on should be clear of dirt and debris and are, at a minimum, 8 inches away from the floor. Linens still warm from processing should be allowed to reach ambient temperature before covering as condensation and reduced airflow promote mould growth.

Strategies for Optimizing Linen Management

Optimising hospital linen management involves several strategies, including tracking, inventory management, and automation.

Linen Tracking

Linen tracking can be significantly improved using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. It uses electromagnetic fields to identify and track tags attached to objects. Each linen item can be tagged with a unique RFID tag that contains information like item type, size, and location. 

Readers placed at various points in the hospital can track the movement of linen items for real-time monitoring of their location. This maintains hygiene and cleanliness by following the movement of linen items from the laundry room to the patient’s room.

Inventory Management

Effective inventory management is crucial to avoid shortages or unnecessary charges. Matching linen inventory with the weekly patient load is essential, as patient counts will likely change weekly. 

Hospitals may pay for excess, unused linens if a balanced inventory-to-patient ratio is not maintained. It’s also essential to ensure the right products for individual procedures, as different medical scenarios require other medical garments. 

Hospitals should also optimise linen use, safety, and cleanliness within government regulations. This lightens the load on inventory management and is more cost-effective.

Automation

Automation leverages the full power of IoT and other advanced technologies because the technology produces and analyses a constant stream of data that could provide insight into business operations. 

Automating hospital laundry management is critical for building a profitable linen service business. It streamlines the process, cuts costs, improves efficiency, and ensures that the correct quantity of hygienically clean linen meeting industry standards reaches healthcare organisations on time.

Sorting and Color Coding

Sorting and colour coding of linens can also be an effective strategy for linen management. Different linens can be placed in extra colour-coded laundry bags, making it easy to identify the items and preventing them from being mixed up with other items.

Training and Education

Training and education of staff is also an essential aspect of linen management. Staff should be trained on good linen management when hired and throughout the year. ​

Use of IoT

IoT devices initiate smart washing to help commercial laundries automate linen cleaning and management. With the right BI solution, you can capture and read IoT data in real time.

Ensuring Hygiene and Safety in Hospital Laundry Operations

Ensuring hygiene and safety in hospital laundry operations involves several vital strategies. These include using appropriate cleaning agents, adherence to cleaning protocols, staff training, and safe handling of soiled linen.

Use of Appropriate Cleaning Agents

Using appropriate cleaning agents is crucial in maintaining hygiene in hospital laundry operations. Anti-bacterial and anti-viral chemical treatments are often used to ensure long-term bacteria-free environments in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way.

Adherence to Cleaning Protocols

Adherence to cleaning protocols is another crucial aspect of maintaining hygiene and safety. These protocols include handling soiled linen as little as possible and with a minimum of agitation to prevent microbial contamination of the air and hospital personnel handling the linen. 

All soiled linen should be bagged where it was used, and the collection bag must be of sufficient quality to contain the wet/soiled linens and prevent leakage during handling and transportation.

Safe Handling of Soiled Linen

Safe handling of soiled linen involves several steps. Firstly, staff should always wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves and protective garments, while sorting soiled fabrics and textiles. 

Soiled linen should be handled carefully to prevent contamination of air, surfaces, and cleaning staff. It should not be shaken, carefully rolled, and placed in a designated container.

In addition, all soiled healthcare textiles should be assumed to be contaminated, and universal precautions should be applied at all times to all personnel who handle soiled textiles. Soiled linen should be enclosed in plastic bags placed within carts by hospital personnel before it is picked up. 

These collection bags must functionally contain wet or soiled textiles, preventing contamination of the environment during collection, transportation, and storage before processing.

Quality Equipment in Effective Laundry Management

Ensuring quality equipment is essential for effective laundry management in hospitals. Reliable, high-quality laundry equipment can significantly improve the efficiency and hygiene of laundry operations. 

Speed Queen, a trusted provider of commercial laundry equipment, offers a range of machines designed to meet the demands of large-scale laundry operations in hospitals. Our machines are built for durability, efficiency, and ease of use, making them an ideal choice for healthcare facilities.

Speed Queen machines are known for their reliability and are tested to last for over 10,000 wash cycles. 

Our equipment is designed to handle the demands of commercial applications, such as laundromats, hotels, and other businesses, while also being suitable for residential use. This durability and reliability make Speed Queen machines popular in hospitals and other healthcare facilities in New Zealand.

Step Up Your Hospital’s Laundry Game – Learn from the Best at Speed Queen

Effective laundry management is crucial for maintaining a safe and healthy hospital environment. By implementing the strategies discussed in this blog post, healthcare administrators, hospital facility managers, and laundry service providers can ensure that their laundry operations meet the highest hygiene and efficiency standards. 

For more information or a personalised consultation, consider contacting Speed Queen, a trusted provider of commercial laundry equipment. Contact us on 0800 77 333 7 or +64 9 528 5600, or visit our website to Contact Speed Queen.

Want to learn more about optimizing your hospitals laundry?