Healthcare Linens: How Is “Hygienically Clean” Defined?

 
April 22, 2020,

Here at Alsco, we take great pride in delivering hygienically clean healthcare linens to our customers. Being certified hygienically clean is particularly important to us. It is so important, in fact, that we were instrumental in developing the hygienically clean standards for our industry. We believe our customers deserve nothing less.

Laundry facilities claiming to be hygienically clean must obtain industry certification. Rest assured; the certification process is quite rigorous. Commercial linen rental companies must not only go to great lengths to satisfy testing and inspection requirements but also maintain high standards to remain certified.

What Hygienically Clean Actually Means

Hygienically clean linens and uniforms are linens free of yeast, mold and harmful bacteria (more details on that in a minute). For now, think about the difference between linens that are and are not hygienically clean.

Our linens are delivered to client locations free of yeast, mold and harmful bacteria. The linens look clean to the naked eye and are free of germs, viruses and bacteria that can make people sick. Linens that are not certified hygienically clean might be clean on the surface only.

Imagine painting over a moldy wall and then killing the mold on a second wall before painting. Both walls would look equally clean after a fresh coat of paint, but the wall still hosting active mold is not clean under the paint’s surface. That mold will penetrate the paint eventually, and you will be back to square one.

Linens that are not certified hygienically clean may not be truly clean under the surface. This is dangerous, especially in healthcare settings. This is why we helped develop hygienically clean standards before undergoing the process to have our plants and products certified.

Meeting and maintaining hygienically clean healthcare standards, such as HLAC accreditation, TRSA Hygienically Clean certification and NSF P467 for Healthcare Linens, confirms that an organization is continually dedicated to infection prevention, compliance with recognized industry standards and processing health-care textiles using best management practices, a focal point for hygienically clean inspectors’ evaluations.

Rigorous Product Testing

Becoming certified hygienically clean is a multistep process that includes rigorous testing to meet the initial qualifications for certification. Products such as healthcare sheets and scrubs are subjected to two rounds of microbial testing at the start of the process. If the products pass both rounds of testing, they move on to an equally rigorous on-site facility inspection that includes a third round of microbial testing as the final step toward hygienically clean certification.

Independent labs abiding by hygienically clean industry standards test all products. They test and certify products based on standard protocols. Any products that do not pass the required tests cannot be certified hygienically clean.

On-Site Inspections

When working with our partners to develop hygienically clean standards, we understood that merely submitting product samples for testing was not good enough. We knew linen providers could do what was required to pass product testing but then resort to other ways of doing things after testing was complete. As such, we understood that on-site facility inspections were necessary.

Inspections look at a host of factors, including the following:

• Production processes
• Employee training and protection
• Management’s understanding of legal requirements
• OSHA compliance verification
• Physical plant operations

The point of on-site inspections is to determine whether plants normally operate in such a way as to ensure consistent adherence to standards. To maintain their certification, laundries must continue to pass quarterly microbial testing that must show an absence of specified microorganisms to ensure hygienically clean products are consistently maintained. On-site re-inspections occur every three years.

As the world continues to battle COVID-19, it is more important than ever for linen and uniform rental companies to provide facilities with hygienically clean products. Alsco is committed to doing just that — today, tomorrow and in all the days ahead.

To learn more about the services Alsco provides to its health-care customers, click here.