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If you’re in the middle of “spring cleaning” your home, you may have run into some unpleasant things. Namely dirty items that have been stuffed in a closet or room that you’ve forgotten about.

Soiled linen is a common waste item that we’ve all run into. Whether it’s old linen that’s been sitting in your closet for ages, dirty linen from wear and tear, or soiled linen, it’s best to dispose of these items as soon as you can.

Here’s some tips on how to dispose of soiled linen in your home, or if you’re caring for someone who may have soiled linen.

Separate Soiled Linen from the Rest of Your Waste

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            When you’re throwing out soiled linen, it’s best to treat it the same way you’d dispose of broken glass. Make sure your hands are clean or gloved, and put the linen in a separate bag from the rest of your waste.

            Most linen can go in the trash, but if it has certain substances or chemicals on it, it may not be safe to go in the trash. This is why it’s important to check with your local municipality as to what linen can be thrown away.

Here’s the procedure that UC Santa Cruz’s Student Health Center follows when disposing of soiled linen:

  1. “Hand hygiene protocol is followed by all personnel when handling linen.
  2. Standard precautions will be followed when handling soiled linen.
  3. Clean linen and soiled linen should be handled, stored, and transported separately.
  4. Linen should be maintained in good repair.
  5. Laundry service is provided by vendor meeting requirements for medical linen processing.”

What Bacteria Can Live on Soiled Linen?

Depending on what you’re dealing with, tons of different bacteria can live on soiled linen. Even as something that’s relatively clean like your bedsheets will naturally have bacteria living on the surface. However, on soiled linen, these bacteria can be dangerous to your health.

If the linen came into contact with someone who is sick, their virus or bacteria can live on the linen for days and won’t go away in that time unless it’s washed with hot water and sanitized.

Infection Control Today points out which bacteria live on soiled linens:

“Healthcare linens are known to harbor a number of microorganisms. Most notably, there is an increased concern that methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) can survive for days on linens. There is further concern that these contaminated linens then become a potential source of cross-contamination.

For Social Care Workers, Follow the Right Protocol

If you’re a social care worker, long term care worker, or someone else who may handle soiled linen every day, disposing of it properly means taking care of your health and safety. Make sure when you’re disposing of any linen that you’re wearing the right personal protective equipment (PPE) to avoid contaminating yourself.   

When you’re throwing out soiled linen, make sure you’re following your workplace’s protocol. Familiarize yourself with your health and safety training, use PPE, and you will be protecting the health of yourself and everyone you come into contact with.

If you’re a social care worker or taking care of someone who is sick, Active Social Care Limited shares some advice:

“Linen that comes into contact with workers or individuals can become contaminated with harmful micro-organisms and body fluids. Linen refers to anything that is made of cloth including bedding, towels and clothing. Personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn when handling infected linen as it can transfer pathogens to skin and clothing. All infected linen (that is linen that is contaminated with body fluids) must be washed separately to other items.”

Contact us to see what waste disposal services we can offer you.

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