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.’

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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

rcni.com/laundry

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