IMPORTANT LAUNDERING ADVICE FOR HOSPITAL STAFF AND OTHER USERS OF ANTISEPTIC PATIENT SKIN PREPARATIONS CONTAINING CHLORHEXIDINE GLUCONATE
When laundered with chlorine bleach, the combination of Chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) and sufficient chlorine can stain fabrics. Thus, special laundering procedures should be considered when fabrics contaminated with CHG are laundered. If sufficient available chlorine is present during the washing procedure, a fast brown stain may develop due to a chemical reaction between CHG and chlorine.
SUGGESTED LAUNDERING PROCEDURES TO LIMIT STAINING
1. Not Aging. Avoid allowing the product to age (set) on unwashed linens.
2. Rinsing and Washing. A rinse operation as the initial step in the wash process is helpful in the laundering of linen exposed to chlorhexidine gluconate. Such rinsing is also important in the laundering of linen which contains organic materials such as blood or pus. For best results, warm water rinses (90-100°F) are recommended. After a number of initial rinses followed by a washing with a low alkaline/nonchlorine detergent, most fabrics previously contacting chlorhexidine gluconate should have an acceptable level of whiteness. If a rewash process using bleach is necessary to achieve a greater degree of whiteness, the bleach should be a nonchlorine bleach.
3. Not Using Chlorine Bleach. Modern laundering methods often make the use of chlorine bleach unnecessary. It is worthwhile trying to wash without chlorine to ascertain if the resulting degree of whiteness is acceptable. Omission of chlorine from the laundering process can extend the useful life of cotton articles since oxidizing bleaches such as chlorine may cause some damage to cellulose - even when used in low concentration.
4. Changing to a Peroxide-Type Bleach, Such as Sodium Perborate, Sodium Percarbonate or Hydrogen Peroxide.This should eliminate the reaction which could occur with the use of chlorine bleaches. If a chlorine bleach must be used, a concentration of less than 7 ppm available chlorine (1/10 the normal bleach level) is suggested to minimize possible staining.
A NOTE ON LAUNDERING OF PERSONAL CLOTHING
The laundering procedures set forth above using low alkaline, non-chlorine laundry detergents are also applicable to laundering of uniforms and lab coats. Commercially available laundry detergents which do not contain chlorine include Borax, Borateem®, Dreft®, Oxydol and Ivory Snow®. These products, however, will not remove stains previously set into the fabric.