MIP Blog

18 Feb

7 LAUNDRY BEST PRACTICES: AN INTRODUCTION

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Being the manager of large commercial laundry or a smaller on-premise laundry can be an equally demanding and challenging job. Whether you are new at the head of your laundry or you have been at it for a few years, below please find a few reminders of ‘’Laundry Best Practices”

1- LAYOUT

A recommended typical layout will include distinct areas to separate clean from soil. It should also have separate areas for sorting linens, washing, drying, and folding. You should also have a delivery and clean linen storage area.

 

2- INFECTION CONTROL

It is always recommended that the primary separation of soiled linen be done on residents’ units. Secondary separation of soiled linen if required should be done by laundry staff who are properly gloved, gowned and masked.

Keep in mind that the laundering process has been designed to address infection-prevention. No epidemic has ever been linked to healthcare laundering process. You need to ensure that your customers are aware that all precautions have always been in place to avoid the spread of any infectious disease through any laundered item.

 

3- INVENTORY

Make sure you always have enough product on hand to enable your operation to run as efficiently as possible and allow you to meet the needs of your customer.

Keep in mind that inventory levels that are too low will result in products being washed too often and reach end of life at a much more rapid pace. All linens need a rest period. If you service more than one facility, try to standardize your product offering to avoid additional steps when sorting or putting in storage.

Maintain an inventory log book that records new products being received and old products being discarded. This will help ensure that your inventory levels do not drop too low. And will provide you a way of measuring your product use & life span.

 

4- PARTNERSHIP

Partner with your customers, partner with your suppliers. You all have the same goal, ensuring that residents are comfortable and are resting on clean and hygienic bed linens. Your suppliers – Equipment, chemicals, linen – will offer the best advice to ensure the longevity of all the products in use in your facility. It will be mutually beneficial. Your suppliers believe in their products, they will ensure you always get maximum use. As an example, work with your linen supplier to establish proper par levels and determine the proper rotation for a maximal use of your stock.

 

5- EQUIPMENT and CHEMICALS

Make sure you use your equipment is used properly. Load linens and fill water as recommended. Under or over filling can reduce cleaning efficiency. Once your chemical representative has analyzed your needs and understood your values, he will help you select the best products to extend the longevity of your products and keep them whither.

Be mindful of maintenance. Check your equipment and chemical buckets on a weekly basis to ensure everything is working correctly. Review the chemical feed lines to ensure they are not blocked. Remember a musty odour on clean linen is a problem indicator. Use an old pair of nylons to check your dryer drums for burrs. And once a year have the temperature gauge on the dryer checked. As an over-heated dryer is the surest and fastest way to ruin linens.

A strong maintenance program is what leads to continuous success and customer satisfaction. If possible and if budget allows, have a mechanic as part of your team. It will be much more effective than constantly relying on outside help. Having equipment in working order and linens that have superior stain release properties will help you avoid costly rewash operations.

 

6- LINENS

Buying at the lowest price may not always be the best solution. Always make sure you consider cost per use instead of purchase price. You may be surprised that products that appeared expensive are actually the most cost efficient because of their lasting quality. Select items that dry faster, it will help you eliminate bottlenecks during the drying operation, which is usually where the work flow is hindered. Always keep an eye on what is being used on the floor. Make sure that your linens are used properly, rotated regularly and that no disposable products are being introduced in to your linen stream as these can cause big problems in your machines.

 

7- LINEN LOSS

Millions of dollars are lost every year in Canada through linen loss. Problematic areas include items that are trashed instead of being sent to the laundry, staff leaving the facility with scrubs or linen travelling with residents when they are sent to the hospital or to another facility. . A properly maintained linen inventory log book will help you identify loss. Establish a strong linen loss program to present a much more profitable image to your administrator.

These are only a few avenues to keep in mind. To build on your experience – network with your colleagues, attend laundry association conferences and stay in the loop of the latest trends.

Written by Gabriel Boardman, MIP Inc.

Categories: Patient/Resident Care

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