Clinic Laundry - Are You Hanging by a Thread?

Clinic Laundry - Are You Hanging by a Thread?

What do you do with your clinic laundry? What should you be doing?

Read the following scenario while you think about it:

It’s the end of a busy and productive day at the office. So busy that you’ve got to rush to pick up your child from daycare. The first thing your boy does is run straight to you embraces you in a giant hug. So sweet right?

That depends. Did you take off your cloth lab jacket BEFORE you left the office?

If not, then you’ve just exposed your child to patient “ick”. Gross! That’s not something you want to do. You know the substances that could be on your jacket.

How could have you prevented this situation?

Consider these options & best practices.

  1. Only wear disposable jackets which are changed between patients and more frequently if they become soiled or wet.
  2. Purchase a washer and dryer for the dental office and do all laundry contaminated with OPIM on-site.
  3. Hire a laundry service.
  4. Wash items at a laundromat
  5. The employer takes home and washes all contaminated laundry

What does OSHA say about this?


Contaminated laundry shall be handled as little as possible with a minimum of agitation.


Contaminated laundry shall be bagged or containerized at the location where it was used and shall not be sorted or rinsed in the location of use.


Contaminated laundry shall be placed and transported in bags or containers labeled or color-coded in accordance with paragraph (g)(1)(i) of this standard. When a facility utilizes Universal Precautions in the handling of all soiled laundry, alternative labeling or color-coding is sufficient if it permits all employees to recognize the containers as requiring compliance with Universal Precautions.


Whenever contaminated laundry is wet and presents a reasonable likelihood of soak-through of or leakage from the bag or container, the laundry shall be placed and transported in bags or containers which prevent soak-through and/or leakage of fluids to the exterior.


The employer shall ensure that employees who have contact with contaminated laundry wear protective gloves and other appropriate personal protective equipment.


When a facility ships contaminated laundry off-site to a second facility which does not utilize Universal Precautions in the handling of all laundry, the facility generating the contaminated laundry must place such laundry in bags or containers which are labeled or color-coded in accordance with paragraph (g)(1)(i).

**Reminder- Any receptacle containing contaminated lab jackets, patient blankets, towels, etc must be labeled as a biohazard

Want to make those sweet kiddo hugs contaminate free?  Be cautious of your PPE…. and don’t bring home your dirty laundry!

About the Author

A former Law Enforcement Officer/ Dental Board investigator, Duane Tinker is the CEO of Dental Compliance Specialists. Mr. Tinker provides compliance consulting, auditing and training services for dentists and Dental Service Organizations on compliance risks including OSHA, HIPAA, Dental Board rules/ regulations, state radiology rules, DEA and state drug regulations, and Medicaid. Mr. Tinker is a frequent speaker for dental societies and study clubs. He also hosts a podcast called Talking with the Toothcop. Mr. Tinker can be reached by calling (817) 755-0035 or through his company’s website

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