The Choice Framework for Policy and Procedures 01-04 (HTM 01-04) is a set of guidance published by the Department of Health to help health and social care professionals maximise infection control when it comes to their laundry processing.

From private and public care and nursing homes, to NHS laundry rooms, it applies to all healthcare establishments that handle laundry across the UK. Whether you’re new to the care profession or just need a quick refresher on HTM 01-04, this Q&A blog is designed to provide you with a useful overview of the ins and outs of it.


QUESTION 1: How can care homes ensure they’re complying with HTM 01-04?

All care home environments, regardless of their size or scale, need to be reviewing their laundry processes and procedures on a regular basis. This will ensure infection control, particularly minimising the risk of infection among residents and staff, is front of mind at all times.

Measures, as stipulated by the guidelines, include having a separate space for clean and dirty items in laundry rooms and a dedicated area for disinfected washes.


QUESTION 2: Should I be meeting EQR or BP?

The guidelines promote continuous practice, which can be achieved by meeting either of the following two standards:

  1. Essential Quality Requirements (EQR) – which is considered as the base level standard.
  2. Best Practice (BP) – the higher-level standard.

Every social care setting should ensure their laundry processes meet EQR at the very least and be striving to achieve BP.


QUESTION 3: When should laundry processes be changed?

HTM 01-04 follows the principle that most residents in an adult social care setting are well most of the time. And, if this is the case, then standard washing procedures, which ensure linen is segregated into the correct washing processes, are followed. Measures include putting dirty sheets or garments into:

  • Water-soluble bags before they’re washed or;
  • Impermeable laundry bags so that they can be safely transported and washed off-site

However, there are instances when laundry can be exposed to the risk of infection, for instance, if residents have been vomiting, have diarrhoea or have been diagnosed with an infection, then enhanced washing processes should be activated.

This includes putting contaminated items into a sealed red water-soluble bag, which should then be placed in an impermeable or nylon/polyester bag and clearly labelled as containing infected items.

The items should be washed using a wash cycle with a verifiable thermal or chemical disinfection process and staff should never open the water-soluble bags prior to them being washed.


QUESTION 4: How can I guarantee my infected laundry has been adequately cleaned?

As part of the guidelines, care homes are required to verify that disinfection has taken place. In the case of thermal disinfection, annual washer calibrations are required to ensure the correct temperatures are being reached. The framework stipulates that washing machines should reach 71° for at least 3 minutes or 65° for at least ten minutes.

For the other option, chemical disinfection, care homes need to provide regular periodic proof in the form of swabs and microbiological analysis. This should ideally be factored into their standard laundry processes.


QUESTION 5: Can washing appliances aid compliance with HTM 01-04?

Absolutely. Aside from making sure their laundry rooms are adequately set up, they have adequate infection control processes in place, and that they’re regularly reviewed to ensure they meet EQR or BP standard, care homes should also be periodically reviewing their appliances too.

Without the right type of equipment in place, it’s difficult to meet the required standards, such as making sure laundry is washed at the right temperature (which we’ve just touched on in question 4). Having the latest industry-leading appliances in place also ensures consistently high results are achieved time-and-time again.

The most popular range of compliant washing machines we supply to care homes is the Little Giant range from Miele. Designed for continuous usage, these machines deliver high-temperature washes including efficient fast-cycles for up to 30,000 wash cycles.


Got any questions or want to ensure your laundry processes are meeting HTM 01-04? Or perhaps you’d like to talk to us about your professional laundry requirements? Contact us today for honest, impartial advice.