Laundering Lab Coats

white front load washing machine

Q: I am a dentist and currently use a lab coat laundry service. The cost, however, is quite high. I would like to consider doing it myself at home. Assuming that I am washing them separately, using hot water, bleach, etc., is there an OSHA guideline that prohibits this?

A: OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogen Standard does NOT allow laundering of any PPE exposed to blood and body fluids at home. You must either use an outside service or install a washer and dryer on the premises that ensure a water temperature of 160 degrees for the wash cycle and 120 degrees for the rinse cycle for proper sanitation.

Instruct your staff to remove contaminated lab coats and other reusable items as soon as possible after leaving the work area, and place them in appropriate laundry bags that prevent leakage.