Lakdawala N. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2011 [published
online ahead of print Oct. 3].
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Acinetobacter
baumannii were eliminated from health care workers uniforms when
washed with detergent and water temperature of 40 degrees Celsius, followed by
7-seconds of exposure to a hot iron, or washing in 60 degrees Celsius,
according to new findings published in Infection Control and Hospital
The results stress the importance of ironing
hospital uniforms after washing them in a domestic
washing machine that operates at less than 60 degrees Celsius, John
Holton, PhD, FRCPath,of the University of Middlesex in London, said in a
press release. We showed that laundry and ironing in a domestic setting
is effective in producing a uniform free of accumulated hospital bacteria safe
to wear to work.
In four related studies, the researchers assessed the bioburden on
uniforms before and after laundry, the varying times and temperatures during
the laundry process and the effectiveness of low-temperature wash cycles and
ironing on removal of
methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
(MRSA) and Acinetobacter baumannii.
At 40 degrees Celsius (the temperature at which domestic washing
machines normally operate) MRSA was eliminated, but Acinetobacter was
still present. Yet, the researchers found that 7-seconds of exposure to a hot
domestic iron eradicated Acinetobacter.
As lower temperatures and lower water use is likely to increase,
particular attention should be paid to the organisms colonizing washing
machines after laundering hospital uniforms, the researchers wrote.
Disclosure: This study received financial support from the UK
Department of Health.