Microbial Contamination of Medical Staff Clothing During Patient Care Activities: Performance of Decontamination of Domestic Versus Industrial Laundering Procedures

Angela Chiereghin, Silvia Felici, Dino Gibertoni, Claudio Foschi, Gabriele Turello, Giulia Piccirilli, Liliana Gabrielli, Pierangelo Clerici, Maria Paola Landini, Tiziana Lazzarotto

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The efficacy of domestic laundering of healthcare staff clothing is still debated. This study aimed to compare the performance of decontamination of different domestic laundering with that of industrial laundering. Fourteen naturally contaminated white coats of healthcare workers (5 fabric squares from each coat) and fabric squares of artificially contaminated cotton cloth (30 fabric squares per each bacterial strain used) were included. Four domestic laundering procedures were performed; two different washing temperatures (40 °C and 90 °C) and drying (tumble dry and air dry) were used. All fabric squares were ironed. Presence of bacterial bioburden on the fabric squares after domestic and industrial laundering was investigated. None of the naturally contaminated fabric squares resulted completely decontaminated after any of the domestic washes. At 24, 48, and 72 h of incubation, bacterial growth was observed in all the laundered fabric squares. Besides environmental microorganisms, potentially pathogenic bacteria (i.e., Acinetobacter lwoffii, Micrococcus luteus, coagulase-negative staphylococci) were isolated. On the artificially contaminated fabric squares, the bioburden was reduced after the domestic laundries; nevertheless, both Gram-negative and -positive pathogenic bacteria were not completely removed. In addition, a contamination of the fabric squares by environmental Gram-negative bacteria was observed. In both the naturally and artificially contaminated fabric squares, no bacterial growth at all the time-points analyzed was observed after industrial laundering, which provided to be more effective in bacterial decontamination than domestic washes. For those areas requiring the highest level of decontamination, the use of specialized industrial laundry services should be preferred.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Microbiology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Feb 15 2020


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