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New spin on laundry design

04 December 2014

Peter Marsh, managing director at Girbau UK, looks at the key considerations in on-premise laundry design for healthcare applications

The most recent guidance for on-premise laundries in health and social care applications is contained in the Department of Health’s CfPP 01-04. Healthcare establishments such as care and nursing homes need to adhere to the guidance in order to meet Care Quality Commission (CQC) standards for laundry design and operation.

Specific hygiene measures should be taken to reduce the risks of cross-contamination between infected and clean linen. These include correct handling to prevent the spread of infection and effective decontamination of linen.

The latest guidance has introduced the concepts of Essential Quality Requirements (EQR) and Best Practice (BP). EQR requirements include:

  • When washing machines are due to be replaced, look for energy efficient models
  • A logbook of any service and repair visits and written local policies and safe working procedures for the operation of all washing machines and dryers 
  • Appropriate personal protective equipment available for all staff

The laundry area should be designed to minimise the risk of recontamination of linen. This should include: segregation of clean and dirty items/areas within the laundry room, and hand decontamination facilities.

Under Best Practice requirements special care needs to be paid to laundry layout to ensure proper provision of clean and dirty areas. This includes separate access with dirty laundry and egress with clean laundry. A separate storage area is also required for clean laundry.

As an example, the optimum laundry equipment for a 30-bed care home is likely to consist of: 

  • Two 9kg capacity washers with automated detergent pumps
  • Two 14kg capacity dryers
  • One small steam iron or rotary ironer
  • Two dirty laundry wash bags with trolley
  • One contaminated laundry wash bag and trolley
  • Two clean laundry baskets and trolley
  • And 30 clean laundry storage trolleys

Girbau’s laundry design service includes: site surveys, CQC compliant laundry design, provision of Full M&E CAD drawings and equipment specification to meet care home capacity needs.

Laundry equipment choice

The latest guidance requires use of a commercial washing machine capable of meeting the disinfection requirements. A hot wash cycle is recommended (71ºC for at least three minutes or 65ºC for at least ten minutes) or alternatively a chemical disinfection process. The washing machine’s disinfection stage must be validated at least annually.

Some of the latest, computer-controlled high-speed washer extractors have a greater range of programmes to ensure that they can deal effectively with any fabric that will be encountered in a care environment. Cotton sheets are ideal for washing with high-speed extraction, but linen tends to wrinkle when extracted quickly, and delicate clothing may require special programmes. 

Girbau high-speed washers with INTELI and LOGI PRO controls maximise efficiency and successful cleaning of a wide variety of fabrics with reduced cycle times, lower temperature washes and reduced consumption of energy, water and chemicals. High-speed machines can process more washing per hour and clothes washed in them will typically dry in 25 to 30 minutes because of lower water retention.

Drying is equally important. The latest tumble dryers are designed to deliver energy efficiency, high productivity, quick drying and low maintenance with commercial dryers offering load capacities from 10kg up to around 70kg. 

For most care homes, dryers heated by gas rather than electricity will offer the best drying and energy efficiency performance. Girbau’s new ED Series dryers provide total controllability over individual elements of the programme including speed, drum rotation and heating to ensure maximum efficiency and offer huge energy savings. They also feature a highly reliable and accurate built-in humidity control system that automatically senses when clothes are dry and activates the cool down process maximising energy efficiency and assuring textile care.

A small ironer is also likely to increase the operational efficiency of a care home laundry by dramatically reducing the time required for laborious hand-ironing tasks – especially for bedding.