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Infect Ecol Epidemiol. 2014 Nov 11;4:24314. doi: 10.3402/iee.v4.24314. eCollection 2014.

Level of decontamination after washing textiles at 60°C or 70°C followed by tumble drying.

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Department of Medical Sciences/Section of Clinical Bacteriology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden;
Department of Medical Sciences/Section of Clinical Bacteriology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.



Several major outbreaks in healthcare facilities have occurred with the emergence of multi-resistant bacteria. A possible route for dissemination is the hospital textiles and inadequate laundering of them. The aim of this study was to develop an easy-to-use method for simulating the laundering process of hospital textiles, and thereafter apply the method when evaluating the decontaminating efficacy of two different washing temperatures.


The laundering process, including tumble drying, took place at two professional laundries. Enterococcus faecium was used as bioindicator.


The results showed that a lowering of the washing temperature from 70°C to 60°C did not affect the decontamination efficacy; the washing cycle alone reduced the number of bacteria with 3-5 log10 CFU, whereas the following tumble drying reduced the bacterial numbers with another 3-4 log10 CFU, yielding the same final result independent of washing temperature. Without tumble drying, there was an obvious risk of adding non-fermenting gram-negative bacteria to the fabric. These bacteria originated from the washing cycle.


A simple method to simulate hospital laundering was developed. To save energy, it is possible to use a washing temperature of 60°C, but the washing cycle should be followed by tumble drying, and the whole laundering process needs to be monitored to maintain sufficient textile hygiene.


bacterial cleanness; high temperature; laundry; textiles; tumbling

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