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Hospital Curtains

Cleaning advice for Hospital Curtains

Cleaning policies and schedules are a critical operation in any healthcare environment. Cleanliness of hospital curtains in particular is vital in maintaining the health of patients, staff, and the general public where best practices should be implemented.

Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs) are caused by a variety of pathogens which can often thrive on soft surfaces and are easily spread. Whilst many of these pose no threat, the safety and comfort of patients should always be top priority, especially considering those with compromised immune systems.

Whilst there are no legislative guidelines on the cleaning requirements of hospital curtains, proper infection-control procedures can help reduce the risks and spread of HAIs. Cubicle curtains specifically are a proven source of bacterial cross contamination, however laundering procedures are often forgotten due to lack of time or staffing.

With this in mind we have put together a guide on our cleaning recommendations.

When hospital curtains should be changed or laundered

We would recommend the following guidelines for changing or laundering your healthcare privacy curtains:

  • When they are visibly dirty
  • When a contact precaution patient is discharged
  • As frequently as manufacturing directions recommend

If a curtain is visibly soiled, then it presents a clear and obvious health hazard to those in its contact and should be dealt with immediately. However, there are also three Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs) of significant concern when present on privacy curtains. HAIs can be prevented if hospitals maintain and clean all rooms and soft surfaces, including cubicle curtains. They include:

  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
  • Clostridium difficile (C-diff)
  • Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE)

In the event of the area being occupied by a patient diagnosed with either of these viruses, or who has been in isolation, then clean curtains should be hung immediately as they are discharged and well before the next patient is moved in.

If your hospital uses non-porous curtains, such as those made from plastic materials, they are considered high-touch areas and should therefore encompass part of daily cleaning and disinfecting procedures.

If you utilise fabric curtains then in addition to these guidelines it is important to consider the volume of surgical procedures performed, types of procedures, patient population, and the number of visitors to the area.

Cleaning methods of privacy curtains

Depending on the manufacturing guidelines, the best methods for cleaning contaminated fabrics include a flush, main wash, bleaching, rinsing and then ‘souring’. Souring is a process of adding a mild acid to rapidly shift the pH level from alkaline to acidic which will inactivate some microorganisms.

Dry cleaning or steaming is not considered effective in reducing bacteria and viruses on fabric surfaces. Cleaning methods that produce mists of disperse dust in patient-care areas should also be avoided.

Advice when choosing your hospital curtains

Fabric content is important when choosing your privacy curtains, as microorganisms tend to bind with some fabrics more than others. For example, some bind more to acrylic, wool and polyester or tend to survive longer on polyester than cotton. It is also advised that a sufficient inventory of medical curtains should be purchased to allow immediate replacement when necessary.

It is important to take on board the advice from specialist commercial blind suppliers, such as Marla who will advise on the best options available. At Marla Commercial Blinds we manufacture and supply antimicrobial privacy curtains which trap and kill spores and inhibit the growth of bacteria to reduce the risk of HAIs.

Marla hospital blinds are available in the following options, each with Biosafe Anti-Microbial coating, flame retardancy, and 5-year guarantee.

  • conventional machine washable
  • disposable
  • shower curtain fabric

Conventional curtains are wipeable with warm water and soap for ordinary soiling or are machine washable to NHS standards. However disposable curtains should be replaced after being dirtied and are 100% recyclable, as such we wouldn’t recommend cleaning.

The material used for shower curtains is suitable for moist conditions and is again wipeable with warm water and most household spray cleaning agents. Due to the inherent antibacterial and antifungal properties of the fabric they can be maintained in excellent condition using these cleaning methods, eliminating the need for laundering.

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