Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases like SARS or MERS.  The new Coronavirus, now known as SARS_CoV2 (causing the Covid-19 disease) is a new species that hasn’t been identified before in human beings. Coronaviruses are transmitted from animals to people and from people to people.

For laundries, the main points of attention are:

  1. Protection of laundry personnel (especially those who may come into contact with soiled and (possibly) contaminated laundry
  2. How to clean textiles in a hygienically clean (coronavirus-free) manner?

There are many questions about the new virus: how does it spread, what is the transmission route? Physical contact? Aerosol? Hard surfaces and other materials? How contagious is it? How quickly / easily does one get infected? How long does the virus survive outside of a carrier, the human body? And so on…

In order to have a clearer view, our research was based on literature/(scientific) research, test results related to the above questions, legal frameworks, existing protocols, guidelines and quality management systems.

At the same time, there is a continuous consultation with experts taking place. These experts include: healthcare experts, RIVM (The Dutch National Institute for Health and Environment), microbiologists, experts in washing techniques, suppliers and experts in CINET’s International network

Scientific research and test information is missing, where most of it based on MERS and SARS. Constantly new insights about the virus are coming in, as a result of the permanent coordination with experts. The virus’ survival is longer than expected and SARS_CoV2 is more contagious than expected

The destruction of the virus (in linen) can be achieved by thermal disinfection. Or by chemo-thermal disinfection – where most of the disinfectants in use are based on a per-acid.

The protection of staff
Regarding the personnel protection, available protocols  were analyzed prescribing: workwear, gloves, washing hands, face mask FFP3.

What should be additional measures? A new set of measures was elaborated based on the consultation with authorities and microbiologists:

  • Drivers wear gloves and wash hands after removing gloves
  • The personnel in charge with sorting the dirty laundry has to wear gloves and, if infectious linen is not separately packaged, a mask type FFP1 or FFP2 ;
  • If masks are not available: The infectious linen has to be stored for five days in closed and marked laundry bags. After this five days period, the virus is no longer active and therefore no longer contagious.
  • For drycleaners: warn customers that they have to hand in contaminated laundry separately

Delivering hygienically clean laundry

To ensure the delivery of hygienically clean, Corona free textiles, standard processes are not sufficient.  Therefore, the following processes are recommended:

  1. Thermal decontamination: 70 degrees Celsius for 25 minor disinfection. It must be verified that the recommended temperature is achieved during all 25 minutes
  2. Chemo-thermal decontamination by adding of a disinfectant (in most cases based on products containing peracetic acid) to the wash process. The process conditions applied should be supported by all experts, including authorities and microbiologists. Be aware that disinfectants can harm textiles so consulting you supplier is advised.

In the Netherlands Certex acquired a solid position in industrial textile service. Based on the international acknowledged standards ISO9001:2015 and EN 14065 “Textiles – Laundry processed textiles – Biocontamination control system”. Certex originates from a quality management scheme developed by the Dutch association for textile service companies together with the Dutch union for quality in hospitals. The established requirements and criteria, with specific values for microbial contamination, were adopted by the Dutch Working Group Infection Prevention in the guideline “Linen in Hospitals”.

CINET developed a dedicated step by step low costs e-learning programme, for both textile service (CERCLEAN® ITS) companies and Retail Textile Cleaning (dry cleaners) ones – CERCLEAN® RTC, in order to make quality management easier accessible for the Professional Textile Care industry. The step by step approach enables companies to follow the program at their own pace. CINET offers full support to enterprises in cooperation with national organizations, associations and representatives of international suppliers. The program includes two levels. The first level is focused on developing a quality management system based on ISO 9001:2015 and best practices when it comes to labour conditions and environment aspects. The second level is all about hygiene management and focused on the delivery of hygienically clean textiles according to established requirements. At the basis of this level stands the standard EN 14065 Risk Analysis Biocontamination Control (RABC) which is focused of analyzing the risk of biocontamination throughout the process and the monitoring an controlling of these risks. 

CINET, together with reputed professional textile care experts, has developed several recommendations for both Industrial textile services and retail textile cleaning. Starting at the beginning of April, is another initiative in which CINET focuses on creating international open-platforms for sharing knowledge and experience. The Corona Webinars are aimed at industrial laundries and retail textile cleaning. The first sessions were also fully booked, with participants from all over the world, therefore the initiative will continue. CINET’s website will show you more on how you can join the Webinars that match your interest.