Managing Risks Related to Covid-19 - Discussion

Last Updated: 17 March 2020

Briefing for Hospitality Laundries
Briefing for Hotels/Venues
NB: While TSA and UKH have made every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information contained in this document, the content is for general information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisers. We do not represent, warrant, undertake or guarantee that the use of this document will lead to any particular outcome or result. We shall not be liable to you in respect of any business losses, including without limitation loss of or damage to profits, income, revenue, use, production, anticipated savings, business, contracts, commercial opportunities or goodwill.

This following section is intended to begin a discussion on operational aspects of healthcare laundries such as detailed risk assessment, employee awareness, policies and considerations on personal protective equipment to help manage risks related to Covid-19.

Covid-19 infection is classified as an airborne high consequence infectious disease (HCID). Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

Please refer to TSA Guidance Document: Re-Opening a Hospitality Laundry during COVID-19 for laundry specific guidance.

Decision on How to Handle Textile Articles Exposed to Suspected or Known Cases

Coronoavirus is a lipid enveloped virus and can survive on surfaces for several days; therefore, infected (confirmed / known cases) linen may pose a risk to laundry staff through textile or contaminated surfaces/PPE. Laundry operations should be able to make a final decision on whether to take the linen back to the laundry to be processed or would they like the linen in question incinerated. Thermal or chemical-thermal laundering processes i.e. (competently validated and /or BS EN 14065 certified  process) may be adequate to inactivate lipid enveloped viruses in textiles. There does not appear to be any specific guidance in the published literature. Public Health England have provided specific response to the TSA as follows.

'The infected linen should be bagged in accordance with infection control procedures. Current decontamination guidance for the NHS states ‘After cleaning with neutral detergent, a chlorine-based disinfectant should be used, in the form of a solution at a minimum strength of 1,000ppm available chlorine’.

Individual operators should consider robust procedures to collect, sort and disinfect the linen. We will endavour to update this page as soon as we have more information available. 

Cabinet Roller Towels

The use of a cabinet roller towel service reduces the risk of spreading of infections in Washrooms. Every household and business in the UK has been advised on measures for restricting the spread of the Coronavirus.  Central to this advice is the need for frequent and correct hand washing as the virus can be readily spread by contact with contaminated surfaces.

Over the years, we have seen reliable evidence of the effectiveness of cabinet roller towels in hygienically providing hand drying solutions to millions of users. Especially, at a time when we are fighting a high consequence air borne disease, it is vital to restrict the spread of infection to the individual, to surrounding objects/surfaces and to other people.

Cabinet roller towels are the most hygienic and sustainable solution when it comes to design and use for the following main reasons:

  1. The Cabinet Roller Towel system is so designed as to dispense a fresh, hygienically clean/disinfected towel portion on demand and automatically stores the used portion of the towel roll safely away from contact with the next user. 
  2. The positioning of the locked and secure cabinet and the length of towel dispensed means that it is far less open to abuse or contamination from alternative use such as wiping down surfaces, discarding after catching sneezes, etc.
  3. Commercial laundries process the cabinet roller towels as per BS EN13569 (Performance requirements and processing). This standard covers the following key points:
    1. Process validation procedures to ensure that cabinet towels achieve the condition of hygienic cleanliness in processing.
    2. Example specifications for suitable fabric structure to ensure efficient drying of hands by combined wicking and wiping.
    3. Recommendations for the care, use and transportation of cabinet towels after processing
    4. Examples of key process variables to achieve disinfection
    5. The preparation and application of bioindicators for the validation of the laundering process to achieve hygienic cleanliness.
    6. The colour fastness of the towel fabric.
    7. The Textile Services industry also provides an industry Code of Practice with which Cabinet Roller Towel suppliers must comply.
    8. Textiles (porous surfaces) have been proven much more resilient against coronavirus (SARS COV-2) compared to non-porous surfaces such as disposable gowns, paper, plastic etc. (Reference: Lai et al., 2005).

On the other hand,

  1. Warm air driers draw air in from the washroom environment and thus potentially recirculate contaminated or infective air.
  2. Paper towels often get jammed in or fall out of the dispenser and end up in a pile on the vanity surround, resulting in potential cross infection.
  3. Stacks of individual terry towels give the appearance of quality, but they are seldom wrapped or protected from contamination.
  4. The University of Westminster undertook a study comparing Cabinet Roller Towels, Warm air dryers and Paper, from which the general conclusions were:
  5. On average warm air dryers do not perform as well as paper or cotton towels with any of the assessments of hand drying efficiency that were tested, i.e.
    1. speed  (warm air dryers are slower than towels at drying the hands)
    2. drying efficiency  (in normal usage warm air dryers do not dry the hands as well as towels)
    3. hand hygiene  (in normal usage the number of bacteria on the hands is
    4. increased by warm air dryers but reduced by towels)
    5. environmental contamination  (bacteria are emitted in the air flow of warm air dryers)



Working safely Government Guidance

Find your local Health Protection Team -

The United Kingdom Government Advice -

Pubic Health England -

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service - ACAS - Coronavirus: advice for employers and employees


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Ecolab - Infection Prevention Measures Christeyns - Information Sheet  WSI - Briefing Croner - Advice


Casanova, L., Rutala, W.A., Weber, D.J. and Sobsey, M.D., 2010. Coronavirus survival on healthcare personal protective equipment. Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, 31(5), pp.560-561.

Geller, C., Varbanov, M. and Duval, R.E., 2012. Human coronaviruses: insights into environmental resistance and its influence on the development of new antiseptic strategies. Viruses, 4(11), pp.3044-3068.

Lai, M.Y., Cheng, P.K. and Lim, W.W., 2005. Survival of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 41(7), pp.e67-e71.

Sattar, S.A., Springthorpe, V.S., Karim, Y. and Loro, P., 1989. Chemical disinfection of non-porous inanimate surfaces experimentally contaminated with four human pathogenic viruses. Epidemiology & Infection, 102(3), pp.493-505.

Wang, X.W., Li, J.S., Jin, M., Zhen, B., Kong, Q.X., Song, N., Xiao, W.J., Yin, J., Wei, W., Wang, G.J. and Si, B.Y., 2005. Study on the resistance of severe acute respiratory syndrome-associated coronavirus. Journal of virological methods, 126(1-2), pp.171-177.


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