A Letter To Equipment Managers Regarding Sanitation
Updated: Mar 13
In a trying time that has affected the entire sports industry, we'd like to offer some insight on keeping your facility clean and safe.
Over the past several weeks we have been approached and asked whether or not our products and those of our competitors can and/or will kill gram “A” positive and “B” negative germs, viruses and bacterias. We’d like to take this opportunity to offer our insight into what is a challenging and unprecedented time in our industry.
There are many ways to sanitize garments through washing. The first and foremost is the use of hot water. The water temperature required (according to the NYS Health Department) is one hundred and eighty degrees (180) without the use of a sanitizer. The temperature cannot be utilized in most facilities due to the scalding threat at sinks and showers. Most garments in use today cannot have the water temperature go over one hundred and five or ten degrees. The reasons for this are:
A) The fabrics will fail. The built in protection that has been applied would be burnt off and thus the wicking of the fabric would be compromised.
B) The inks or dyes will “bleed”. Most dyes or inks release at around one hundred and eighteen degrees. The darker the dye, the sooner it can (and most probably will) release.
There are ways of sanitizing these fabrics without the use of scalding water. The most common way is to use chlorine bleach, a product known as Sodium Hypo-Chloride in the chemical community. All (not some), but all uniform manufacturers insist that you do not use this product for it will gray out and destroy the uniforms as well as fade or “bleach” out the colors. They also state that the use of chlorine bleach will void any and all warrantees associated with the garments.
The next way of sanitizing a garment is to use a bacterial agent. This is not a stand-alone product. This product or chemical is mixed with a souring agent (to neutralize the garment) or a softener. True bacterial agents are very costly and are mainly used in nursing homes and hospitals due to the high nature of disease found there. No athletic facility should have the need for this type of product. No athletic facility should have any type of softener online or being used in the washing of uniforms and or any product that has a wicking factor built into it. Softeners in themselves will discolor a uniform and stop the wicking off of water from the body by sealing the cloth. Softeners are added at the end of a wash and thus never rinse out of the fabric. This chemical is then left on the fabric and usually placed in a dryer at a high temperature setting (over one hundred and ten degrees), which will only cause the garment to yellow and gray over time. Softeners can also be the cause of rashes and other breakouts by your players that may be allergic to the perfumes associated with them as well as the product having direct contact with a players skin. The most common way to neutralize a garment at the end of a cycle so that the garment is Ph safe to the skin is to use a souring agent or three to four quick rinses. A souring agent is not looked highly upon unless the water in question has hardness to it or minerals, which can cause problems with the finished products look and Ph. A souring agent is always added at the end of a cycle and personally our company does not condone adding anything at the end of a wash that cannot be rinsed out unless no other choice is left to us.
The way that most other industrial chemical companies sanitize uniforms is through the use of a product known as Hydrogen Peroxide or Oxygen Bleach. This is not your normal bleach, nor is it similar in strength to what one would use on a cut or wound. Hydrogen Peroxide has been known as an effective way of sanitizing and cleaning wounds for decades. The product that is most commonly used is at a two or three percent solution. This is a known germ killer and all hospitals and doctors offices use this product religiously for the cleaning and disinfecting of wounds and killing of all gram “A” positive and “B” negative bacteria, germs and viruses. The solution of Hydrogen Peroxide that most companies use for the sanitizing of garments is a thirty-seven point five (37.5) percentage in strength. This percentage works extremely well in cold as well as hot water. The amount required to sanitize a wash load is approximately one (1) ounce per ten gallons of water in a washer. This may not sound like much but the critical point is what is commonly referred to as the parts per million or PPM. Due to the high percentage of the solution little is required to reach the required PPM (500 PPM according to the NYS Health Department). The higher the percentage of solution the less chemical is required to make the necessary PPM. Hydrogen Peroxide is such a great form of sanitizing as well as a natural form of whitening, that all if not most uniform manufacturers have endorsed the use of this product without the chance of voiding any warrantees associated with their products.
To take this one step further, the US Navy commissioned a test to see whether or not Hydrogen Peroxide, which is also known as Ozone (in its gaseous form), was a useful and necessary sanitizer for their washers and the garments of their personnel. A company in Connecticut incorporates this product and technology into the washers that they manufacture. Several studies were done and they were able to prove and show that Hydrogen Peroxide “attacks and kills bacteria much faster then chlorine bleach leaving no chemical residue behind” and “Is effective in destroying microorganisms such as air born and surface bacteria, viruses, yeasts and molds”. These are quotes taken out of manuals and independent reports compiled by the Connecticut equipment manufacturer and the US Navy. The US Navy has since decreed that the use of Hydrogen Peroxide in liquid or gas form is to be used on all vessels in the US Fleet. The equipment company in Connecticut, which has the contract with the US Navy, has at least one washer with some form of Hydrogen Peroxide installed on every ship in service as well as those in construction. The most common form of this product in the US Navy’s ships is that of Ozone, the gaseous form of Hydrogen Peroxide. The washers that cannot be fitted with the gas unit have the liquid form of Hydrogen Peroxide.
Should you be interested in utilizing a laundry product with hydrogen peroxide in your facility, we’d be happy to set you up with an order of our very own ‘Color Safe Bleach’.
In these trying times, we hope that the information stated above can help you to better serve the players, managers, and other staff at your institution. We hope that this is received in the manner that it was intended; as an assist and nothing more. I would also hope that if the need arises, that you would call on us to assist you in the daily care of your garments no matter how small or insignificant it may seem at the time.
The Integrated Sports Specialties Team