According to a study published in the November issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, residential washing machines may not always use hot enough water to eliminate dangerous bacteria like: methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Acinetobacter, a Gram-negative bacteria, from hospital uniforms.
The study was done in London where the researchers investigated the effectiveness of residential washing machines’ lower water temperatures in eliminating hospital-acquired bacteria.
Through a series of experiments, researchers found that washing uniforms in residential washing machines with detergent and water temperature of 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit) was enough to eliminate both MRSA and Acinetobacter. At 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), MRSA was eliminated, but substantial amounts of Acinetobacter were detected.
However, the researchers found using a hot iron on fabric after a 40 degree Celsius wash did eliminate the Acinetobacter. “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,” said Dr. John Holton, one of the study’s authors. “We show that laundry and ironing in a domestic setting is effective in producing a uniform free of accumulated hospital bacteria safe to wear to work.”
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