Did you know that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not have any specific requirements for cleaning privacy curtains? They only require that you include the laundering frequency on your housekeeping schedule. Even The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives very vague guidelines for laundering cubicle curtains and simply states that you need to “clean…window curtains in patient-care areas” when they are visibly dirty.
Since we wanted to provide our clients with more definitive cleaning recommendations than the OSHA or CDC offers, we decided to take some advice from Steve MacArthur, who occasionally blogs for OSHA Healthcare Advisor and is the safety consultant for The Greeley Company. He recommends that privacy curtains be changed and laundered at a minimum in the following situations:
While the above scenarios provide some clear guidelines for when to launder cubicle curtains, Mr. MacArthur also recommends that you consider laundering your curtains if a patient occupies the space for a month or longer (this obviously would not apply to ambulatory settings but could apply to hospital settings).
Some facilities choose to launder their curtains quarterly, semi-annually or annually. Others rent cubicles and do not need to worry about laundering because the vendor provides laundering services as part of the rental terms. No matter how frequently you decide to launder, it is also important to establish a process for replacing your curtains when they wear out from normal use.
Since there is a decent amount of regulatory freedom when it comes to privacy curtain laundering, it is largely up to your healthcare practice to decide what makes the most sense for you. The safety and comfort of your patients and staff should be of primary concern when establishing a curtain cleaning schedule.