Archive August 2018 XIX, No. 8

Ideas That Work: Laundry Duty

Tips for Laundering Your Own Linens

LAUNDRY DUTY If you have an on-site laundry, everyone should pitch in when they have a free hand.

I know we're in the minority, but we launder our linens on-site instead of sending them out to a laundering service or letting staff wash their scrubs at home. We've been doing our own laundry for all 25 years I've been at our ENT and ophthalmology surgery center. We started with a household washer and dryer, but upgraded about 10 years ago to an industrial-sized washer and dryer that can hold about 20 pairs of scrubs at a time. We typically do about 7 loads of laundry each day — sheets, pillowcases, gowns and scrubs. Here are some helpful pointers if you want to do your own linens:

  • Right temperature. A temperature of at least 160°F for a minimum of 25 minutes is commonly recommended for hot-water washing. The challenge of self-laundering is always having hot water for the washing machine and warm water for the rest of the building. But if you turn up your building's water supply to 160°F, you risk scalding your surgeons, staff and patients when they wash their hands. For handwashing, water temperature should be between 106°F and 115°F. The solution: We installed a thermostatic mixing valve, which maintains and limits the mixed hot water to a desirable selectable temperature. We also installed a temperature gauge that tests the water going into the washing machine so we can periodically check that the water is hot enough.
  • Fold on a stretcher. We pull out an unused stretcher to fold laundry. Everyone pitches in to wash and fold. We have a saying: "If you have a free hand, there will be laundry in it."

Jenny Brallier, RN
Center for Surgical Care, ENT & Allergy Specialists
Florence, Ky.

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