Globally, the coronavirus pandemic has created a whole new awareness of the need for improved hygiene, an issue that has become a driving force for innovation in many sectors. Prior to Texcare International, Dr. Timo Hammer, Managing Director of Hohenstein Laboratories and the German Certification Association for Professional Textile Services, which distinguishes the quality seal RAL 992, discusses the importance of the topic for professional textile care.
In your daily work, you check textile companies for hygiene. What has changed since the corona pandemic outbreak?
“At the beginning of the pandemic, a lot of laundries came up to us and asked an incredible number of practical questions. For example, how can I protect my employees if we receive laundry contaminated with corona? Or how can I organize it so that my driver can deliver the laundry despite the curfew? In the past, hygiene was “nice to have”. Today it is also a prerequisite for companies to protect their employees. Hygiene is a concept and employees need to understand the basic principles of hygiene. And we continuously support our members with training. This means that they are able to answer questions from their customers, i. H. Hospitals and care facilities to answer competently. "
The pandemic has brought the issue of textile hygiene to the fore. What are the growth opportunities for the global sector?
"Enormous. And now things really get going. This is the result of the enormous leap in awareness of hygiene. People all over the world are now concentrating precisely on this topic. In tourist regions, for example, guests ask about the hygiene management of their hotels and how the laundry is done For this purpose, hotels require their laundries to have a hygiene certificate. "
Textile hygiene is an essential aspect of health care. In your opinion, what are the advantages of reusable textiles over single-use items? “At first glance, single-use products are often cheaper. But when you compare the total cost of ownership – the "total cost of ownership" – reusable items come out on top. The barrier function and the degree of protection of reusable surgical gowns are also significantly better than those of single-use products. A study on this was carried out by MCQuerry et al. in the American Journal of Infection Control in 2020.
In addition to having a lower overall cost, multipurpose items are also more sustainable. Many healthcare companies are now certified and textiles play an important role in this. In addition, reusable garments are more comfortable to wear and can be customized to meet customer requirements for fit and size. "
How do you see the trend towards reusable items in the future?
“If the trend towards reusable items is to continue, laundries must have a quality management system in place that does not guarantee any loss of value when such items are disinfected. Detergent manufacturers are aware of this and therefore develop products that contribute to both hygiene and longevity. "
What role does digitalization play in ensuring uninterrupted hygiene management from laundry to the customer? What potential do you see in this context for the future?
“Yes, that is actually an important point and there is a lot going on at the moment. In the last few years, digitization in laundries has mainly aimed to track down items with the help of RFID chips. In this case, it makes sense to link this process with hygiene management data and thus digitize the transparency of the hygiene chain. I expect numerous innovations in the area of comprehensive digital hygiene management. On the microbiological side, however, contact tests and the washing of contaminated samples are still required to demonstrate sterility. Data from control points developed according to the HACCP concept, where the microbiological tests are carried out, can be integrated into an overall digital concept. This increases the reaction speed and the customer can be informed in real time. "
Has the pandemic become a driving force behind innovation in the hygiene sector? In which segments were there particularly outstanding innovations? “There have been a lot of great new products in the antiviral textile field lately. Innovations are now taking off where there used to be a niche. In general, the effects last a long time when antiviral substances such as copper are incorporated into fibers. However, it is important to ensure that the coating is suitable for the intended application. For example, if the antiviral effect only works on damp textile, this textile should not be used in predominantly dry environments.
Hygiene is extremely important in all areas of life today. Accordingly, hygiene monitoring is one of the driving forces behind innovations, and simple systems – such as the Hohenstein HyMo-Box, which can also be used by laypeople – have a great advantage. "
What contribution can Texcare International make to raising awareness of the topic of textile hygiene?: “It is good that in the run-up to Texcare International and in lectures and forums at the fair itself, the focus is on the subject of hygiene. It is unlikely that visitors to the fair will include people who are not interested in textile hygiene. When it comes to hygiene, many people immediately think of building cleaning, hand hygiene and antibiotic management, but not textiles. It would be good if Texcare International could show the world the importance of professional textile care in combating the pandemic and breaking the chains of infection. "