Understanding the Medical Laundry Process


What goes on in one’s laundry room is hardly anyone else’s business –– unless it’s in the healthcare business. Medical laundry requires specific standards that are crucial not only in protecting patients but the greater public health in general.

How the Medical Laundry Process Differs From Traditional Laundry Processes

So that begs the question: what actually goes on in the medical laundry process? We’re breaking it down for you.

Transportation and Handling

Contrary to what the name suggests, the nitty-gritty of the medical laundry process actually starts with transportation. This part of the process, according to TRSA’s Hygienically Clean, is where t linens are most vulnerable to contamination, along with storage. Transporting soiled linens properly is just as crucial as the handling of clean ones. Improper handling of soiled linens pose danger in contaminating surfaces, carts, as well as other linens.

This is why the proper labeling of soiled linens, per OSHA standards, on-premise is crucial. It allows laundry service personnel to follow specific protocols on transporting and isolating contaminated linens.

Reliable, Highly-Effective Procedures

Linens and garments used in medical settings naturally require a more specialized kind of laundry process. It goes beyond the specifics of the actual washing of items. The whole process can be generally broken down into three main categories: sorting, washing, and finishing.

The Importance of Sorting

Sorting is the part of the process that makes sure only good, viable linens and garments end up in your facility. This separates the good linens, the linens that require repair, and the disposal of items that are beyond saving. Sorting is also the part of the process where viable items are separated for fabric-specific customized treatments.  

Multi-Step Washing

From the water temperature to the different cycles that linens must go through, nothing is arbitrary about the laundry process. The water temperature should be at 160°F to kill microorganisms present in linens. The hot water also helps activate chlorine, which is a commonly used disinfectant in linens. The length of time and agitation are also essential elements in effective healthcare laundry processes. Acid is also commonly introduced after the final rinse to help remove alkaline residue from the linens. This residue is a result of the rapid pH shift in the laundry water. It can cause skin irritations without the neutralizing addition of acids.

Finishing and Folding

The laundry cycle ends with the finishing and folding process. Primarily, finishing and folding make it easier to store and re-transport linens. But they are also necessary for the preservation of the linens. Creases in the textiles, allowed to sit for long periods, can distort the shape of the fabrics’ fibers. This can cause the fibers to deteriorate faster. Proper finishing and folding lengthens your healthcare textiles’ life cycle and prevents linen loss.

Packing for Storage

Proper, practical packaging is what protects post-laundry linens from contamination. This waterproof barrier should keep your linens clean until they are ready to use.

Hygienically Clean Laundry: What Does This Mean for Your Facility?

Working with a Hygienically Clean-certified healthcare laundry facility is one of the best investments you can gift your facility and your patients. Hygienically Clean verifies the integrity of the service provider in multiple areas.

What does this mean for your facility? It means:

  • They have complied with industry standards including that of OSHA and the CDC.
  • Their finished products have undergone multiple stages of testing for the presence of microbes.  
  • Their employees undergo the necessary training required to carry out effective, compliant laundry procedures for healthcare linens.

Interested in a Hygienically Clean Medical Laundry Process For Your Facility?

Get in touch with Medico today! Call us at (800) 464-6334 to learn more about our services, our laundry process, or to set up a consultation.