Fire in My Dryer: How to Launder Linens Safely
How to Launder Linens Safely
Between 2010 and 2014, fire departments responded to an estimated average of 15,970 fires involving clothes dryers or washing machines.
Managing linens effectively is important for clinic safety, and it's one of the best ways to make sure yours doesn't fall victim to fires like so many others. What does that look like, though? How can you be sure you're doing everything correctly?
Luckily, we're here to help. Read on to learn about how proper washing techniques play an important role in massage clinic safety.
The Challenge of Oily Sheets
The oil itself is already a fire hazard, but when you add a hot dryer into the mix, it can become especially dangerous. Oily sheets can also pose a potential threat after they've been washed and put away, as there's a chance of spontaneous combustion.
To avoid these dangers, it's smart to avoid large stacks of dried linens. Instead, fold them neatly and then separate them into smaller piles. Also, dry sheets at a lower temperature so you can avoid the oil's smoke point. If you have to stack your linens, make sure they have proper ventilation and have been spread far enough apart to allow for proper cooling.
Don't Forget Surrounding Areas
If there's oil on the tables you use to fold laundry, or even in the baskets that used linens are placed in, then it can pose an extra threat. It's also smart to include steps for disinfecting the areas around the washer and dryer so this isn't a possibility.
It might seem small, but avoiding the risk of further staining and contamination is important for the overall well-being of your linens, your machines, and your entire massage clinic.
The biggest way to help your employees remember the potential dangers that come with oily sheets is to post clear signage around the washing area. Provide clear instructions for the techniques your clinic uses, and remember to provide all the necessary materials employees might need to get the job done.
How to Wash Sheets for Clinic Safety
Now that you know a bit more about the dangers of having oil on your sheets in the dryer, you're ready to learn about proper washing techniques. Let's get into it.
Wearing a mask while cleaning up used linens is a great idea, and so is wearing gloves and washing your hands after they've been removed. While not all those linens are going to pose a threat, it's still important to also keep them away from your body when you're transferring them from room to room.
If they can't immediately get washed or laundered, then it's best to leave sheets in a closed container or bag. Once they're laundered, be sure to store them away from used linens.
Choose Oil Wisely
Choosing the right oil is going to help preserve your sheets. Finding a hypoallergenic oil that doesn't stain is important here (you can find this information on the bottle). Almond oil is one to avoid, as it leads to the most stains, and that tends to leave a bad smell on your sheets.
Massage oil can splash, especially when using a pump dispenser over and over. Be mindful of this during treatments, and take pause to wipe up after the client leaves. Whether you're cooking with oil, filling a car engine, or engaging in a massage, there are lots of good reasons to wipe up spilled oil.
Next, you want to be sure you're always washing sheets in hot water.
The right temperature is going to help with disinfecting them, but it's also going to help with removing any oil that's left on the fabric. Cold water, however, helps the oil fix into the fibers of the fabric, making it harder to get spots out.
The same goes for rinsing. Rinsing in cold water is going to lead to oils fixing themselves into fabrics, while warm water is going to help get those stains out.
Choose the Right Detergent
Liquid soap is better than powder for washing oily sheets. Antibacterial, grease removing soaps are going to be the most effective solution to this problem. While all liquid soaps can effectively clean sheets, ones that are specific to removing grease are going to be the biggest help.
In 2018, a West Coast fire department identified the cause of an apartment fire being a backpack with freshly-laundered sheets inside. Those sheets belonged to a massage therapist and had been sitting in the backpack for hours.
It's important to work quickly when it comes to cleaning sheets used for massage therapy. Stripping massage tables and getting them into the washer quickly can make a difference for potential contamination, and it can also keep things safe for the entire building.
Once the sheets are out of the dryer, take care to fold them properly and then store them in their specified area.
Dry on a lower setting
Modern dryers often claim to be more energy efficient. One of the ways this claim is made true is by eliminating the cool-down cycle, wherein the dryer keeps tumbling for several minutes after its heater shuts off. Does your dryer allow you to add a cool down stage? If so, use it. Again, this may not seem worthwhile or even obvious, but it can help reduce the chance of a fire.
Train Your Employees
In certain areas, training might be required when it comes to infection control plans, but it's still important to include even when not a requirement. It's also important to reeducate when there's a change in any products, procedures, or PPE. Also, if an employee violates any part of the infection control plan, it's essential to educate everyone else so the same mistake isn't made twice.
Keep Your Massage Clinic Linen Clean With These Tips
There's no doubt that keeping linens and towels very clean is important for massage clinic safety. Not only does it make everything safer for your clients, but it also makes the experience a lot more enjoyable for everyone. When you don't have to worry about germs or even fire hazards while doing laundry, a lot of mental space opens up that you can use to elevate your client's overall experience.
All of that starts with having the right equipment, though. Take a look at our linens today.
View more tips on How to Wash Your Clinic Linens.
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