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Safe Management of Linen

Clean linen

The clean linen should be stored in a clean, designated area, preferably an enclosed cupboard. They must not be stored in the sluice, bathroom, or other dirty areas. If clean linen is not stored in a cupboard, then the trolley used for storage must be designated for this purpose and completely covered with an impervious covering/or door that is able to withstand decontamination.

  • To avoid the dispersal of microorganisms in the surrounding area and environment, do not rinse, shake or sort linen on removal from beds/trolleys.
  • Do not place inappropriate items (e.g. used items/equipment/needles) in the laundry receptacle.
  • Do not place used linen on the floor or any other surfaces, e.g. a locker/tabletop.
  • Do not re-handle used linen once bagged.
  • Laundry receptacles should be closed when 2/3 is full. Do not overflow Laundry receptacle.


Used Linen (previously known as soiled/fouled linen)

  • All used linen from patients not considered to have infectious or contagious diseases.
  • The linen should be placed as close as possible at the point of use in a laundry
  • In addition, it should be placed in an impermeable bag immediately upon removal from the bed or before leaving a clinical department.


Infectious linen

 Includes linen used by a patient who is known or suspected to be infectious disease and/or linen contaminated with blood and/or other body fluids.

  • Wear appropriate PPE when handling linen contaminated with blood and body fluids.
  • Handle used and/or soiled linen gently (and as little as possible) to avoid the dispersal of microorganisms in the surrounding area and the environment.
  • During handing, it should be held away from the body.
  • Infected linen must not be sorted. Instead, it is removed with no/or minimal handling and should be sealed in a water-soluble bag (entirely water-soluble ‘alginate’ bag or impermeable bag with soluble seams).
  • It is then placed in an impermeable bag immediately upon removal from the bed and secured before leaving a clinical area.
  • Infectious linen bags/receptacles must be tagged (e.g. hospital ward/care area) and dated.
  • Store all used/infectious linen in a designated, safe, lockable area while awaiting uplift.
  • Uplift schedules must be acceptable to the care area, and there should be no build-up of linen receptacles.
  • All linen deemed unfit for re-use, e.g. torn or heavily contaminated, should be categorised at the point of use and returned to the laundry for assessment and disposal.
  • Linen used during patient transfer, e.g. blankets, should be categorised at the point of destination.



  • All personnel collecting, transporting, sorting, and washing soiled linen must be adequately trained and wear appropriate PPE.
  • All workers must cover all lesions on exposed skin with waterproof plasters and wear appropriate gloves.
  • Gloves used for sorting laundry should be of sufficient thickness to minimise sharps injuries. In addition, they must have access to handwashing facilities.
  • Bags containing infectious linen should be sealed or securely tied, with a label indicating the point of origin attached.



  • Health Technical Memorandum 01-04: Decontamination of linen for health and social care. Management and provision. London: Dept. of Health 2016.

Literature Review

  • Safe Management of Linen. NHS National Services Scotland.11 September 2020.