Home >How a streamlined laundry process can help care homes

How a streamlined laundry process can help care homes

29 September 2017

416,000 people live in care homes, equating to 4% of over 65s in the UK. However, with an ageing population – the 65+ population has increased by 21% over the last ten years – care homes are under growing pressure. Additionally, in 2015/16, 77 local authorities reported at least one care home closing in their area.

With spending cut by £160 million on elderly care, homes are feeling the strain. Time must be cut, whilst care levels remain high. One solution could be through a streamlined laundry process.

Laundry Equipment Direct share their top tips on how care homes can create a more efficient laundry routine, freeing up time to spend with patients:

Separate laundry

Laundry should always be separated into three piles, otherwise cross-contamination will occur, spreading bacteria and slowing down the process.

The first pile is for dirty linen, which should be washed first.

The second pile is for infected or soiled laundry, and this includes blood or other bodily fluids. This should be placed in a sealed bag, which isn’t opened until it’s ready to go in the machine. It goes without saying, this shouldn’t be washed with other laundry. You could store them in an alginate bag, which will dissolve in the wash.

The third pile is for clean linen, which can be put on a separate trolley, ready to send back to owners.

Training care home workers on how to treat soiled laundry is particularly crucial, to discourage the spread of bacteria.

Create cleaning rota

Working in a care home is hectic, even before laundry is factored in. With so many loads to wash, whilst you may not be able to predict the amount of soiled laundry, you can at least prep for dirty laundry.

Designate specific days and times for washing, so staff know when to collect dirty laundry, and residents know when to expect it back.

Once you’ve separated light washing from dark, you’ll probably want to schedule in separate loads for towels, sheets and clothing, to avoid overfilling machines.

Use colour catchers

Something as simple as a colour catcher can really help to streamline the laundry process. 

Even though you may have split your loads into light and dark, you should always add in a colour catcher to stop colours from running.

Dyes running can be a nightmare – not only will it cost the care home to replace ruined items, it could also upset residents if for example, their favourite cardigan comes back a different colour!

Dry laundry on low heat

With so much washing, the tumble dryer is the easiest place to dry laundry. However, excessive use of dryers can shrink items, which isn’t good for care homes – costs will soon add up to replace shrunken bedsheets.

Reduce the risk of shrinkage by drying laundry on a low heat. Other precautions include washing items beforehand in cold water. The only exception to this is soiled and infected laundry, which must be washed on a high temperature, disinfection cycle to kill bacteria.

Clean appliances

Regularly cleaning your appliances will not only prevent the spread of bacteria, it will also help them last longer, saving your care home money in the long-run.

Run a maintenance wash at least once a month for your washing machines. Take the time to scrub the detergent drawer, filter and door seal; leaving it open to let fresh air circulate.

For tumble dryers, you should always clean the lint drawer after every wash. If lint is left in, it can dry out and possibly set alight.

Ventilation is key in your laundry room. Choosing a room on the outside of the building means tumble dryers can take air from outside, and fresh air can circulate the room, discouraging the growth of bacteria.

By taking these steps, you can increase the speed of the laundry process at your care home, leaving you with extra time to spend with patients.