AN OXFORD laundry business has stepped in to help the NHS in its fight against the coronavirus by providing a special service for medical scrubs, personal protective equipment and uniforms.

There has been a surge in demand for the protective equipment from hospitals, care homes and GP practices since the outbreak began.

Oxwash, which operates across the city and in Cambridge on bicycles, has worked around the clock to free capacity and meet the high demand for sterile healthcare laundry.

“We have to be able to maintain very high levels of cleanliness and adopt several new levels of PPE and processes to operate safely in the recent COVID-19 outbreak,” said Dr Kyle Grant, founder of Oxwash, which is based on the Osney Mead industrial estate in west Oxford.

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“The newest demand comes from GPs who have not previously used scrubs and PPE.

“We realised we had to help and have the technology to provide a service at a time of crisis.

“We’re proud to be able to meet the needs of frontline NHS heroes and heroines.”

In addition, there is a need for services from several hotels which have been taken over by the NHS to accommodate key workers during the crisis.

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Dr Grant added: “It has been vital to get our service right and we have now successfully undertaken a pilot with two practices, including the Jericho Health Centre.

“We expect demand to rise significantly as pressure on frontline services continues to soar.”

Dr Grant said they have developed a three-stage cleaning process to achieve levels of sterilisation that exceed the NHS and HSE guidelines.

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He said: “In addition to high temperature washing, we are using an ozone process known to be effective against micro-organisms such as bacteria and viruses as well as allergens that was originally developed for NASA to sterilise payloads for space missions. Finally, a chemical sanitisation rinse doubles up as a stain removal step.

“We can meet the demand, but we will need to add capacity to our delivery service in the next few weeks to ensure our NHS heroes and heroines have clean protective equipment and uniforms in their battle on the frontline.”

The Oxwash website is advising customers: “At this time Oxwash is operational and working hard to support the NHS, key workers, and vulnerable individuals.

“We have introduced contactless collections and deliveries and enhanced hot washes to ensure the safety of our team, customers, and wider community.

“We are available to support those who need our services the most but if you are able to, please wash your items at home whilst the government lockdown is in effect.

“If you order via our site we will be in touch by telephone to make sure you are ready for your collection.”

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Customers are being advised that the usual process of laundry collection has been changed during the crisis.

The website said: “Our Oxwash rider will park their bike at least three metres away from your front door, before putting on disposable gloves, arm protectors and a mask.

“The rider will post special dissolvable laundry bags through your letterbox, or leave them on your doormat, before ringing your doorbell and stepping back a minimum of two metres.

“Please place all of your items in the red bags provided and tie a double knot in the top like a bin bag.

“Please don’t include any other bags inside the dissolvable bags, or place the red bags into any other bags as your bagged items will be placed directly into the washing machines.

“Please place your items on your doorstep and then close the door.

“Only once you have closed your door will your Oxwash rider collect your items. They will place them in another sealed bag for transport and you will receive a collection confirmation email and text message as usual.

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“We will wash your items at 60˚C using enhanced chemical disinfection and ozone sanitisation.”

OxWash was founded in 2017 by Dr Grant, born out of frustration from the perpetually broken washing machines in his college laundry.

Armed with just a bike and a backpack, Dr Grant started collecting and washing clothes for fellow students, this quickly snowballed into a growing on demand laundry business as interest grew.

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Dr Grant, who was born in Cape Town but grew up on the Isle of Wight, started his business after being frustrated by the laundry service at many Oxford colleges.

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