There are several ways that freshly laundered linens can be cross contaminated and rendered unsanitary. Here are a few points to focus on to prevent possible cross contamination:
Avoid cross contact. Common sense dictates that once any linen has been laundered, it should not come into contact with soiled linens or unsanitary surfaces. If it does, then consider the laundered linen as soiled and not fit for guest use.
Use clean shelving. To lengthen their service life, all linens should be allowed to rest for 24 hours after laundering but before returning them to guest use. Disinfect shelving on a regular basis, and never allow soiled linens or nonsanitary items to come into contact with shelving dedicated to clean linens.
Use separate linen carts. When transporting soiled linens from the guest floors to the hotel’s laundry, use separate linen carts that are used to transport clean linens back up to housekeepers’ closets or guestrooms. Each cart should be clearly labeled for “Clean Linen” or “Soiled Linen.” For rapid identification by employees, consider purchasing one color of cart for clean linens and a different color of cart for soiled linens.
Use gloves and wash hands. Require housekeeping employees to either wear disposable gloves when handling soiled linens or always wash their hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds after handling soiled linens but before handling fresh linens. In lieu of hand washing, employees may use hand sanitizer as an alternative after coming into contact with soiled linens.
Dr. William D. Frye is coauthor of AH&LEI’s housekeeping textbook Managing Housekeeping Operations.