UV-C disinfection is a technology that has been used for decades to remove bacteria from water, surfaces and air. In a new article on its website, the German Certification Association for Professional Textile Services examines whether the method is suitable as an additional kind of disinfection in commercial laundries, outlines the best places and purposes to choose for its application and asks what measures need to be taken to protect workers.

Ultraviolet ("UV") radiation is invisible to humans. Microorganisms that are exposed to UV-C radiation are irreversibly deactivated in anything from seconds to a few minutes. Most bacteria, with the exception of spores, are killed in about 2 minutes even in daylight.

It is because of this excellent biological effectiveness that disinfection using UV-C radiation is used alongside thermal and chemical disinfection, especially to purify drinking water and water for swimming pools, water for industrial processes and sewage water, before it is piped. Work surfaces in clean rooms, isolation facilities, for example in hospitals, and sterile workbenches are treated with UV-C light to kill bacteria.

The article suggests that, in principle in the laundry industry, a distinction needs to be made between two places where UV-C disinfection systems could be installed and operated: in "enclosed" systems on one hand and "open" systems on the other.

The report concludes that UV-C is a sensible option for commercial laundries because of its proven good biological effectiveness in practice. Where and how the technology is best used in individual companies can only be determined by taking account of the specific balance of technical and commercial factors in each case.

Factors to be considered include the suitability of the premises or surfaces, including the required cleaning work, the installation costs for the UV-C equipment, whether it can be efficiently supplemented with other decontamination methods, the number of employees in the company and therefore the cost of the necessary workplace protection measures. These considerations of the costs and benefits should also include risk management in the event of any harm being caused.