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Most nurses can’t launder uniforms at work, poll suggests

Nursing Standard survey follows study findings on possible COVID-19 transmission at home
Picture shiws the view from inside a washing machine as a woman reaches into it and touches laundry

Nursing Standard survey follows study findings on possible COVID-19 transmission when washing work clothing at home

Nine out of ten nurses and other healthcare staff have no access to laundry facilities at work, according to a Nursing Standard Twitter survey.

The survey followed research highlighting the potential danger of COVID-19 transmission through washing workwear at home. The 24-hour straw poll on Twitter on 1 March asked nurses Does your workplace have laundry facilities for staff?

Danger of traces transferring to other surfaces before washing

The snap poll received 355 responses. Of these, 309 people (87%), said their workplace does not have laundry facilities for staff, 24 (7%) said their workplace does and the same number said they did not

Nursing Standard survey follows study findings on possible COVID-19 transmission when washing work clothing at home

Picture: iStock

Nine out of ten nurses and other healthcare staff have no access to laundry facilities at work, according to a Nursing Standard Twitter survey.

The survey followed research highlighting the potential danger of COVID-19 transmission through washing workwear at home. The 24-hour straw poll on Twitter on 1 March asked nurses ‘Does your workplace have laundry facilities for staff?’

Danger of traces transferring to other surfaces before washing

The snap poll received 355 responses. Of these, 309 people (87%), said their workplace does not have laundry facilities for staff, 24 (7%) said their workplace does and the same number said they did not know.

Researchers from De Montfort University in Leicester carried out the original study, which is undergoing peer review. They say that although the virus will be removed by washing clothes with detergent in a domestic washing machine at 40°C, there is a danger of traces transferring to other surfaces in the home before washing.

RCN says all employers should consider laundering uniforms for staff

The RCN says that where facilities exist, it expects all employers to consider laundering uniforms for staff to reduce the reliance on home laundering.

The straw poll received a range of comments from nursing staff, including community nurses, who said it is not practical for them to wash their uniforms at work.

RCN professional lead for infection prevention and control Rose Gallagher said: ‘National recommendations state that uniforms should be laundered on-site by healthcare laundry services.

‘All such arrangements must comply with infection prevention standards. Where the facility exists, staff should have access to this facility to launder their own uniforms or workwear.

‘If laundered at home, uniforms or workwear should be laundered separately from other household linen in a load not more than half the machine capacity at the maximum temperature the fabric can tolerate.’

Guidance on washing uniforms

NHS guidance on uniforms and workwear states:

  • There is little effective difference between domestic and commercial laundering in terms of removing micro-organisms from uniforms and workwear
  • Washing with detergents at 30°C will remove most micro-organisms, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
  • A ten-minute wash at 60°C is sufficient to remove almost all micro-organisms

Source: Uniforms and Workwear: Guidance for NHS Employers (NHS England and NHS Improvement)

Find out more

Uniforms and Workwear: Guidance for NHS Employers (NHS England and NHS Improvement)


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