Laundering to kill Germs: Microbiological Decontamination of Textiles

Dr Katie Laird | View as single page | Feedback/Impact

Research base

The evidence for this guide is based on research conducted at De Montfort University on the ability of bacteria to survive on textiles and effectiveness of different domestic wash cycles to remove bacterial contamination from textiles. The wash parameters investigations conducted have been based on survey evidence on the most regularly used domestic wash cycle, temperatures and detergents by UK NHS nurses.


Burden, M., Keniston, A., Frank, M. G., Brown, C. A., Zoucha, J., Cervantes, L., Weed, D., Boyle, K., Price, C. & Albert, R. K. 2013. Bacterial contamination of healthcare workers' uniforms: A randomized controlled trial of antimicrobial scrubs. Journal of Hospital Medicine, 8, 380-385.

Department of Health, 2010. Uniforms and Workwear: Guidance on uniform and workwear policies for NHS employers.

Fijan, S. & Turk, S. Š. 2012. Hospital Textiles, Are They a Possible Vehicle for Healthcare-Associated Infections? International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 9, 3330-3343.

Mitchell, A., Spencer, M., Edminston, C. Jr. 2015. Role of healthcare apparel and other healthcare textiles in the transmission of pathogens: a review of the literature. Journal of Hospital Infection,  90(4):285-92

Riley, K., Williams, J., Owen, L., Davis, A., Shen, J. and Laird K. (2017a) The Effect of Low Temperature Laundering and Detergents on the Survival of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus on Textiles Used in Healthcare Uniforms. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 123 (1), pp. 280-286

Riley, K., Williams, J. and Laird, K. (2017b) Domestic laundering of nurse’s uniforms: how should uniforms be washed and what are the risks? Nursing Times, In Press

Riley, K., Laird, K. and Williams, J. (2015) Washing healthcare uniforms at home: Adhering to hospital policy. Nursing Standard. 29 (25), pp. 37-43.

Riley, K and Laird K. (2015) Antimicrobial Textiles for Medical Environments. In: Sun, G. ed. Antimicrobial Textiles, Woodhead Publishing, pp. 249-262

Laird, K. Riley, K. and Williams, J. (2014) The role of protective clothing in healthcare and its decontamination. In: Walker, J.T. (ed.) Decontamination in hospitals and healthcare. Cambridge: Woodhead Publishing. pp. 398-412