Hospitals using 71.1 C water for laundering consume vast amounts of energy. We studied whether washing at 22 C would result in fabric-associated between bacterial counts significantly different from those remaining after the high-temperature wash procedure in general use. Using a standard method to enumerate fabric-associated bacteria, we found that soiled sheets and terry cloth items were contaminated, respectively, with 106 and 108 cfu/100 cm2 of fabric area, predominantly gram-negative rods (especially Enterobacteriaceae and Pseudomonadaceae). Staphylococcus species were the most common gram-positive organisms. A standard low-temperature washing cycle without laundry chemicals removed 3 log10 of bacteria by agitation, dilution, and drainage. When low-temperature laundry chemicals were used, 3 log10 of bacteria were killed after the bleach was added, and sheets and terry cloth items had postwash colony of 101-102 cfu/100 cm2. Drying removed an additional 1-2 log10 organisms. Bacterial counts and species from low and high-temperature washed fabrics were comparable. Low-temperature washing is therefore as effective as high-temperature washing for eliminating pathogenic bacteria from hospital laundry.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy
- Infectious Diseases