WOPCOM Blog: CINET International Hygiene Reference (RTC)


For a long period of time, the retail textile care industry was focussing on stain and spot removal and a high level of garment finishing quality. However, the global corona-crisis led to an increasing demand from customers for hygienically clean and corona-free garments and textile products.

This demand is new to the retail textile care industry, contrary to the textile service industry for whom this is more standard. Hygienical laundry processes for e.g. hospital and health care are state-of-the-art, however what about dry-cleaning processes and hygiene. And all kinds of new question pop up:

  • What is hygienically clean?
  • What is a hygienic cleaning process?
  • How can we guarantee hygienically clean garments, as hygienically clean is not visible?

To answer these questions, CINET has set up a Hygiene Reference Guide which is aimed to enable professional textile cleaners to answer question about and to inform the cleaner how to deliver hygienically clean laundry in line with internationally accepted reference values.

What is hygienic clean?

Hygienic clean is that no or only a limited number of bacteria (most guidelines focus on bacteria) are present on the garments and laundry after cleaning. These guidelines vary from country to country, as shown in table 1. The guidelines describe the maximum number of bacteria (expressed in c.f.u.) allowed per surface area of the product after cleaning. So, hygienically clean is not the same as sterile (= no bacteria)!

Table 1) Hygienic demand in a number of countries.


A hygienic cleaning process is defined as a cleaning process that guarantees that the laundry  – cleaned according to this process – meets all hygienic demands. Another frequently used definition is lethality or log reduction of at least log 6. A log reduction of 6 means that 999.999 out of 1.000.000 million bacteria are deactivated in the cleaning process!


CINET Hygiene  Reference

Based upon these considerations CINET has defined a international Hygiene Reference for hygienic clean laundry and cleaning processes, focusing on bacterial disinfection, as shown in table 2:

Table 2) Demands CINET International Hygiene Reference

Hygienic cleaning processes

To identify hygienic cleaning processes, a discrimination should be made between laundering processes, wet cleaning processes and dry cleaning processes. Most common textiles can be cleaned in laundry processes while wet and dry cleaning processes are used for cleaning of sensitive textiles, e.g. wool and silk.

In laundry processes, a sufficient level of hygiene can be achieved at high washing temperatures (> 60 °C), this is called thermal disinfection. The prescribed minimum temperature and treatment time can however differ from country to country. If disinfection at lower temperatures is required, a disinfecting agent should be added. A commonly used disinfecting agent is acetic acid. This type of disinfection is called chemo-thermal disinfection.

For professional wet cleaning, thermal disinfection is not possible, as this will cause damage to the sensitive textiles. Therefore, adding a disinfecting agent is the only possible option to achieve hygienic wet cleaning processes. The same holds for dry cleaning processes. Adding a disinfecting agent is required to achieve the required level of disinfection. Earlier research by CINET showed that in dry cleaning using PERC and HCS as solvents, the level of disinfection is not meeting with the standard without the addition of a disinfecting agent.

Disinfection can be assured if the cleaning processes applied and the final level of product hygiene are in line with national regulations and internationally agreed standards and procedures, e.g. CERCLEAN. Wash parameters of hygienic cleaning processes (time, temperature, dosing of chemicals) have to be exactly followed. Proper documentation, validation and monitoring of process and product quality are required to enable a guaranteed level of hygiene.