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Am I being naive about protective clothing?

(19 Posts)
Rosina Wed 22-Apr-20 17:42:31

There is much concern and much being reported about shortages of protective clothing. Some criticism would appear to be unfair because to stockpile would evidently not have been practical - the clothing has limited life.
Much has also been said about how hot and uncomfortable the plastic gowns are; and this is where I would like some sage advice. In the past cotton clothing was worn, and reused. The virus evidently soaks a little into fabric, where the oily outer coating is absorbed and the virus cannot survive. Washing in hot soapy water also kills the virus, so is there any reason why front line staff could not have reusable cotton clothing? The savings, availability and comfort seem self evident, unless I am missing a major flaw with this idea.
I don't doubt that someone will tell me that there is a huge stumbling block, but I would be interested to hear what others think.

EllanVannin Wed 22-Apr-20 17:50:20

Are there no on-site hospital laundries any more ?

Eloethan Wed 22-Apr-20 17:55:21

Years ago there used to be laundries in hospitals, and clothes could be washed at a very high temperature. How and where would these clothes be washed now, even at a normal temperature? If they were sent out to private laundries, wouldn't that be just as expensive? Or would staff be expected wash and dry them at home?

It's an idea worth considering - if it would definitely be safe - but there are practical issues.

wildswan16 Wed 22-Apr-20 18:01:25

Uniforms are washed, scrubs are washed, bed linen is washed, towels are washed - some hospitals still have laundries, some are outsourced.

However, washing known infected linen requires a lot of extra steps to get from A to B as it were.

Missfoodlove Wed 22-Apr-20 19:11:52

Rosins, that’s common sense, this is something in as much of a short supply as PPE at the moment.

growstuff Wed 22-Apr-20 19:29:23

You could be right Rosina. I honestly don't know. That's why we desperately need joined-up thinking with people in charge who aren't motivated by short term profits and are prepared to listen to all options. We need "experts", who know what they're talking about.

growstuff Wed 22-Apr-20 19:31:23

Wildswan You seem to have some knowledge of this. Would laundries, if properly equipped, be able to wash and disinfect infected clothing and linen?

BradfordLass73 Thu 23-Apr-20 01:18:14

Turkey has airlifted 400,000 sets of protective gowns to Britain for the hospitals.
This must be as gall to the British machinists who are working like dogs to provide them, often for free. So will these hospital gowns be nicknamed ‘wormwood scrubs’?

Coolgran65 Thu 23-Apr-20 01:34:50

In the 70s I worked in the local hospital which had its own laundry. Nurses had a locker and changed into uniform on site. Well dare Matron (I was her Secretary) have become aware of a uniform going home. Starched caps, cuffs and aprons, woollen capes.

More recently my dil nurse laundered her own uniform and wore it to and from work. Pre C19.
I could never understand the hygiene aspect of this.

Sparkling Thu 23-Apr-20 07:36:18

I don't suppose anyone knew the vast amount of petite give clothing was needed. I did think that if you washed at 60 degrees germs were killed off. I find it so frustrating that they can only get the goods from abroad, when they could be made here. I heard one company here saying they were making them for export. It doesn't make sense, even if they cost more it heals they are readily available, accountable if something is amiss and keeping people in work. The sooner we can bring these trades back here, the sooner our economy will get on the road to recovery. I think we need laundries in hospitals and canteens back.

Bobbysgirl19 Thu 23-Apr-20 09:53:38

Good question Rosina! I too have been baffled over why they can't devise some method for deep cleaning more substantial PPE equipment. Surely if they can construct a whole hospital in a matter of weeks there should be a ways for doing this.
But in this crisis, they have to use what is available I suppose.

Missfoodlove Thu 23-Apr-20 09:56:50

We have two hospitals in our region 3 miles apart.
Both hospitals are being used to treat C19 patients whilst other wards and services are mothballed.
Why could one hospital not have been used for C19 and the other continue with normal healthcare?

Oopsadaisy3 Thu 23-Apr-20 10:12:44

The planet will be filled with PPEs going into landfill.
We have highly infectious bed linens and scrubs going into hospital laundries on a daily basis surely.
Can’t they just turn the temperature up on the COVID washing?

Eglantine21 Thu 23-Apr-20 10:28:15

It’s an interesting question. I’ve been doing a little googling not on sites dealing with Covid19 but pre epidemic industrial laundry sites.

I’d post a link if I knew how but if you type industrial laundry into Google you should get the ones I found.

Firstly there’s a bevy of research that shows contaminated laundry has to be washed at 90 degrees + to be safe for reuse in a bleach washing powder/liquid.

It must then be mechanically dried immediately after washing.

Any PPE containing a plastic element couldn’t be washed at these temperatures.

The research is pretty clear that you couldn’t wash contaminated PPE at home and be sure it was safe.

Then there’s the bigger the load the longer the washing time required. If you’ve got a newish machine at home you’ll know it weighs the load and adjusts the time

The problem I think is sheer volume and time logistics. I’m very willing to be challenged on the rough calculations I’ve made.

Industrial machines generally have a load of 18 kilos. I’m estimating this to be about 40 sets of PPE. A wash to dry cycle at that weight takes about 90 mins if the fabric is easy dry like polyester, longer if it is cotton.

So 24 hours in a day, 15 cycles per machine max given loading and unloading time, 40 sets PPE = 600 possible washes x however many machines you have. That I don’t know.

Add onto this transit time between picking up the dirty laundry and delivering it back and you can start to see why you need an enormous supply of PPE to actually ensure that there is sufficient quantity on the wards.

Hope I haven’t bored the socks off you. If nothing else it kept me occupied for a bit 😀🤔

Eglantine21 Thu 23-Apr-20 10:29:54

Gosh I hadn’t even thought of factoring in the bed linen. Nothing like 15 PPE washes a day then.

Alexa Thu 23-Apr-20 11:06:01

I feel as Rosina does. During the 1950s I worked for NHS in a large infectious diseases hospital where isolation gowns were all of washable cotton. Nurses and porters were well instructed in safe handling of all infected items and how they were dealt with . The hospital of course had its own laundry and the domestic workers were as carefully trained as the nurses all with oversight from the matron.

It does not seem a terrible effort to establish onsite laundries and fumigation (where needed) facilities.

Does anyone know of a website where these questions are answered?

EllanVannin Thu 23-Apr-20 11:25:35

I was also training/nursing in the mid-50's/60's and 70's where there were laundries on-site and we too had to change into our uniforms on the wards and never be seen wearing them outside the hospital.
We even had the Asian 'flu pandemic in our midst but were able to contain it within the hospital.
I realise that there were 10 million less of todays population to deal with at the time but things were still managed efficiently, even without advanced technology and science.

Alexa Thu 23-Apr-20 11:27:15

Eloethan Fri 24-Apr-20 01:27:27

There used to be proper canteens in hospitals too, with food prepared and cooked on the premises.

My first job was in a psychiatric hospital and the food in the canteen was very good.