Risk from uniforms laundered at home
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Risk from uniforms laundered at home

Absence of workplace changing facilities means nurses and other healthcare professionals are unable to wash their uniforms to NHS infection control standards, a study has found.

Nursing Standard. 37, 3, 6-6. doi: 10.7748/ns.37.3.6.s2

Published: 02 March 2022

Of the 1,277 nurses, healthcare workers and nursing students who responded to the De Montfort University and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust survey, 68% said they wanted to wash their uniforms at work where facilities met NHS standards.

But a shortage of facilities means nurses are often washing uniforms at home, a practice that may not meet infection prevention and control guidance. Some 71% said they were confident washing their uniforms at home, but 17% failed to wash their work clothes at the recommended temperature of 60ºC.

Principal researcher and microbiologist Katie Laird said: ‘This creates an infection control risk, with the potential transfer of microorganisms such as coronavirus – and others that cause hospital-acquired infections – from healthcare uniforms on to surfaces.’


Picture credit: iStock

There is some compensation for washing uniforms at home – nurses can claim tax relief. However, more than a quarter of nurses and other healthcare staff who responded to the survey were unaware they were eligible.

RCN welfare adviser Ian King encouraged nurses to take advantage of money-saving schemes. ‘The rising cost of living is taking a toll on nursing staff, so there is no better time to check if you’re eligible to claim for tax relief on uniform expenses,’ he said.

See Jane Bates, page 12


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