The ideal temperature to clean linens for health care
The optimal temperature of water that can efficiently kill bacteria without actually harming (most kinds of) textiles should be 160 degrees Fahrenheit for washing healthcare-use linens. In order to be safe, fabrics must be immersed in hot water for at least twenty-five minutes at the minimum heat.
How expensive it can get is the main concern about keeping up with this weather. For example, in hospitals, most in-house laundry facilities usually use up to 75% of their hot water, making this heat demand a little expensive for healthcare facilities to keep up with. Not to mention, large-scale hot water use is not the most environmentally-friendly practice on a daily basis.
Hot water over 160 degrees Fahrenheit is not suitable for washing those types of fabrics, aside from its economic and ecological impracticality. It takes a very strong fiber to withstand daily hot water treatments, like most synthetics (for example, polyester).
Low temperature (warm water) treatments are often recommended as an alternative, provided that the detergent, the length of the washing cycle and the type of additive used are all carefully regulated to produce an end result that is equally clean and sanitized. To effectively minimize the presence of bacteria, it is recommended that 125-parts-per-million (ppm) chlorine bleach be used for such low temperature washing. The safest and most common alternative to chlorine-based bleach is oxygen-based, chlorine-free bleach, which is not ideal for use in some fabrics (i.e. fire-retardant textiles).
Handling and Drying
In addition to using the correct washing temperature to destroy bacteria and pathogens, other variables, such as drying times, ironing, and post-wash handling, are also critical in the proper disinfection of medical linens. In order to achieve a degree of cleanliness that ensures safe use and prevention of linen-induced cross contamination, it requires a great deal of skill and experience in handling used medical linens and garments.