Hygienically Clean introduces more stringent testing protocols for healthcare laundries

by Brianna Crandall — January 30, 2015—The Hygienically Clean Advisory Council just announced on Wednesday new, more stringent testing protocols for its Hygienically Clean Certification for commercial laundry facilities processing health-care-related goods.

The independent certification program was designed to better ensure quantifiable hygienic outcomes for healthcare linens as well as recommendations for best practices for improved hygienic transportation and storage of clean linens and other textiles by commercial laundry services.

The new protocols were developed in partnership with TRSA, the global textile services trade association, and reviewed by a third-party, independent epidemiologist from Johns Hopkins University to confirm the testing protocols were significant and appropriate.

To begin the certification process, commercial laundry facilities must submit two random textiles to an independent, TRSA-approved laboratory for bacteriological testing. The samples must pass testing on three consecutive rounds, and the facility must pass an inspection prior to qualification.

Once qualified, facilities must pass new regularly scheduled testing protocols to maintain the Hygienically Clean Certification. These protocols include instituting the Replicate Organism Detection And Counting (RODAC) microbiological test (described here). Modeled on European standards, facilities pursuing the Hygienically Clean Certification must now submit to RODAC testing four times per year rather than the previous protocol of twice per year.

In addition, the Advisory Council has incorporated U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) 62 as an additional layer of testing to be carried out twice a year. USP 62 is a recognized testing methodology for seven different microorganisms most commonly found in healthcare environments, explains the group.

The transportation and storage best practices include standards for cleaning of transportation vehicles and their storage containers, as well as proper handling, separation and storage of textiles on delivery to healthcare facilities.

Currently, 50 commercial laundry facilities have earned the Hygienically Clean Certification. Complete information on the program and its newly revised protocols and best practices can be found on the program’s new Web site. All programs under the Hygienically Clean umbrella will benefit from these changes, notes the group.

The Hygienically Clean Advisory Council consists of professionals encompassing the full spectrum of healthcare laundry, including commercial launderers, nurses, doctors, chemical manufacturers and research scientists, many of whom were drawn from TRSA. The Advisory Council oversees the Hygienically Clean Certification Program.

Hygienically Clean, and its family of other certification programs, ensures quality criteria for the production and storage of hygienically clean reusable textiles for use throughout the public sector, including healthcare facilities. Compliance with Hygienically Clean standards is based on microbial (bacteriological) testing, documentation of laundry best management practices, and facility inspections. The program describes procedures for quality assurance; quality control inspections, sampling, and testing; minimum performance specifications; certification; outsourcing of services; noncompliance procedures; recordkeeping; and an appeal process to ensure the production of hygienically clean textiles.

TRSA’s “Standard for Producing Hygienically Clean Reusable Textiles 01/20/15” is available on the TRSA Web site.