The Dutch National Institute for Public Health advises the laundry and linen services to clean at 80°C for at least 10 minutes during the COVID-19 crisis. Or when cleaning at 70°C, one should run the program for at least 25 minutes. Lower temperatures simply don’t kill the virus. But how can we be sure that we clean at those exact temperatures and lengths?
Reinfections in German Hospital
In practice, we have seen cases where washers and dryers cleaned and dried below programmed temperatures. That is dangerous. Especially in vulnerable and sensitive industries such as healthcare and food. Last year, the cleaning and health industry were shaken up by a study published in the Applied and Environmental Microbiology journal. It turns out that in the period between 2012-2013 in a German hospital 13 newborns and one child were infected with Klebsiella oxytoca, a multidrug-resistant pathogen.
Verify the process
Many industries depend on laundries to clean their dirty linen. That’s pretty straightforward. But what is less obvious is whether the batch of laundry is cleaned properly. Even in normal times (read: before COVID 19). In certain sectors, such as the food industry, laundries need to verify whether they have cleaned according to industry standards. In other words, the client may ask the laundry, “Did you get rid of all bacteria?” That’s when a similar question to the one at hand arises: How do I show my client that I have cleaned according to the guidelines?
Back to the German hospital for a minute. The K. oxytoca bacterium never left the washer on premise, which allowed it to re-infect the children. Isolates of the K. oxytoca strains were detected in the detergent drawer and on the rubber door seal of a domestic washer-extractor machine, used in the same ward to wash laundry of the newborns as well as in two sinks.
Avoiding COVID-19 Reinfections via Laundry
This is a horrible situation. But imagine a scenario in which a laundry fails to clean according to the guidelines. That means COVID never leaves the linen and the chance of reinfections skyrockets. This should be prevented at all costs.
Finally, the researchers involved in the German study advise the following: “Furthermore, the use of professional washing machines and the routine check with a temperature logger is an urgent requirement.”
How to show that you killed the virus
Accidents such as the detection of K. oxytoca in a children’s hospital are an important reason why we created Smart Control and Laundry Intelligence. And in the COVID 19 era, this tool becomes more important. In Laundry Intelligence, our dashboard that displays management information, one can view the progress of the washers and dryers in real time. This means that you can see the amount of water that is being used, the temperature at which is being cleaned, and how much energy the machine uses. And afterwards, you can print a report that shows the exact performance of the machine in question.
What’s more, one can compare the programmed parameters with the real usage. In other words, you can check, in real-time, whether you are washing at the right temperature that eliminates bacteria or not. This is crucial for medical spheres. In other words, did we really kill COVID at 80°C (and did the washer really clean for 10 minutes)?
A new mentality
We need to get rid of the old mentality of “just run the machine and trust that it does what it was told to do.” Today, An accident is always hiding in a corner and it has horrendous consequences. Why wouldn’t you minimize the risks with a rather small investment in reliable software?