The cleaning industry was shocked 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.
The K. oxytoca bacterium never left the washer, 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.
The researchers advise “that changes in washing machine design and processing are required to prevent accumulation of residual water where microbial growth can occur and contaminate clothes.”
“Changes in washing machine design” is open to interpretation. However, as members of the cleaning industry, we understand that the most obvious explanation would be software advancements. This brings us to the next part of the researchers’ recommendation:
“Furthermore, the use of professional washing machines and the routine check with a temperature logger is an urgent requirement.”
A routine check of the temperature is indeed interesting; especially for medical washers, checking the temperature constantly is crucial. Indeed, the temperature determines the habitat for bacterial growth and their lifespan. And again, software is the right tool to monitor the live temperature.
Of course, we are shocked by the results of the study. As an industry, we need to prevent these infections in the future. Accidents like the detection of K. oxytoca in a children’s hospital are an important reason why we created Smart Control and Laundry Intelligence in the first place. In Laundry Intelligence, our dashboard that shows 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.
What’s more, one can compare the programmed parameters with the actual 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.
We really hope that this study raises awareness around the quest to minimize bacteria in places where one would expect a high standard of hygiene. Also, we need a better understanding of the use of software to realize a clean and bacteria free cleaning process.
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