Microbiologic Sampling of Healthcare Linens

by | Jul 11, 2023


HLAC is a nonprofit organization that inspects and accredits laundries that process reusable healthcare textiles utilizing evidence based
standards deemed as the minimally acceptable practices for the preparation of hygienically clean healthcare textiles1.

NEW! Beginning July 1, 2023, HLAC is offering third-party certification of laundry facilities’ linen processes which includes facilities to implement routine microbiological and yeast/mold testing on its products.


An HLAC multidisciplinary team including Infection Preventionists, Microbiologists, and laundry Plant Operators participated in a robust review and development process to create a certification for Certified Hygienic Testing: Testing and Validation Process, otherwise known as Part IV in reference to the HLAC Standards manual. This partnership combined both the science and the application at the plant operations level.


Part IV augments the recently launched, 2023 HLAC Accreditation Standards – Part I – III, which were updated based on the most recent
recommendations and requirements published to date. This section includes protocols for microbiological sampling to assess laundry processing and workflows to support hygienically clean linen and infection control practices.


The Testing and Validation of Process standards
(Part IV) accepting applications July 1st.


The HLAC Testing and Validation of Process document outlines a step-by-step approach for
the customer and includes a “Quick Reference
Guide” for ease. Webinars and updates will be available on the HLAC website.


Healthcare linens (HCLs) are found throughout the patient environment and represent a surface with which patients have the highest degree of contact. As such, they are subject to contamination by microorganisms, including pathogens that are present in the patient environment2. While the number of healthcare associated infections (HAIs) linked to contaminated HCLs reported are few and the risk of transmission is negligible, the risks of transmitting infections via contaminated laundry and bedding are real. Various pathogens may persist on fabrics for weeks and used items may contain bacterial loads of 106 – 108 CFU/100 cm2 of fabric3,4. Reusable HCLs thus need verified protocols in place to ensure that they are hygienic HCLs before re-entering healthcare facilities. HLAC has adopted total aerobic microbial, total yeast and mold counts (RODAC plates) with a passing criteria of < 20 cfu per square decimeter and the absence of pathogens per USP 62 panel, as microbiological testing criteria1.

1. Healthcare Linen Accreditation Council. Retrieved at: https://www.hlacnet.org/
2. Scherberger, J.F. Maintaining hygienically clean healthcare textiles within a healthcare facility. Association for the Healthcare Environment. November 5, 2018. (Available at: https://www.ahe.org/sites/default/file/ahe/JJ_ScherbergerJohn.pdf).
3. Battles DR, Vesley D. Wash water temperature and sanitation in the hospital laundry. J Environ Sci Health;1981, 43:244-50.
4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Background G: Laundry and Bedding, Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities. November 5, 2015. (Available at:https://www.cdc.gov/infectioncontrol/guidelines/environmental/background/laundry.html).