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Failure to Keep Laundry Facility Clean Turns Customers Off, Threatens Quality (Part 2 of 4)

“Sometimes, we get so caught up in getting the work processed and to our customers that we don’t keep the laundry production areas as clean as they should be. What tasks should we be performing regularly to keep our facility clean? To what degree do we need to clean our equipment and how often?”HOTEL/MOTEL LAUNDERING: Neil MacDonald has managed the laundry at the Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club since the property opened in 1995. His other experience includes managing laundries at the Ihilani Resort & Spa on Oahu, the Westin Century Plaza Hotel and the Westin Kauai Resort.
I’m a firm believer that included in laundry productivity numbers are the daily housekeeping tasks. Keeping areas neat, clean and free of debris improves productivity and prevents accidents.
It’s a tough task to keep productivity high and the facility clean. Poor productivity and poor housekeeping usually go together. I’ve troubleshot laundries that were not doing well and their housekeeping practices mirrored their production.
How do you balance the cleaning tasks with work processed? We have an engineering department that is responsible for the blow-down of lint and the heavy cleaning. This cleaning is getting into the equipment, opening panels, replacing filters, things like that. This work is done when the facility is shut down for the night.
For the basic cleanup, sweeping, mopping and wiping, associates assigned to specific areas are allowed time for this at the end of each shift. For example, our washmen are to clean dryer lint screens and the drain screens in the trough. You can really do a lot if you allow 5-10 minutes at the end of each shift. Ten minutes times five production associates equals 50 minutes of cleanup time!
There’s also the clean-as-you-go standard. That is, you clean as you move throughout the facility. This is part of our culture and a performance standard. It’s not get-out-a-brush-and-bucket clean, but rather a pick-it-up clean.
We have the luxury of a housekeeping department, and I’ve worked with housekeepers to schedule bimonthly floor care. We’re forced to keep areas clean, knowing that housekeeping is coming in to wax the floors.
Work with other departments and allow your associates a few minutes to clean up at the end of their shifts. A clean facility is good for morale, too. EQUIPMENT DISTRIBUTION: Scott McClure is vice president of sales for Pellerin Laundry Machinery Sales, Kenner, La. He was hired as CAD engineer in 1992 and became the Louisiana sales rep in 1996, winning numerous awards while in the post. He became sales manager in 2003 and VP of sales the following year. He oversees sales in a seven-state territory.
A clean laundry is “the beginning and the end” of a proactive maintenance program for any laundry facility. Most laundry equipment utilizes photo sensors and inverters to perform various tasks. Particularly in the flatwork/folding area, where the presence of lint is most common, it’s extremely important to keep these areas clean.
A small piece of lint on a photo sensor can affect the quality of your folded products and in some cases cause your machines to go into a shutdown error mode, resulting in unnecessary maintenance cost spent diagnosing the problem.
Lint accumulated on motors and inverters can cause them to overheat, resulting in premature wear and costly repairs. Lint in or around dryers and ducting is a serious problem that can decrease dryer efficiency and, even worse, cause a laundry fire.
Several techniques are used for cleaning laundries. Most laundries use a blow-down method, in which compressed air blows the lint from the rafters to the floor for sweeping. The problem here is that lint gets everywhere and you may end up with increased lint on or inside the equipment.
The best method for lint removal is to use a vacuum system. Instead of blowing the lint from one area to another, a central vacuum system will properly remove the lint without causing potential problems. Vacuum extensions and accessories can be purchased to reach beams and railings as high as 20-30 feet.
Another method you can use to keep equipment free of lint is to install ambient air lint filters over your flatwork and folding areas. These devices pull the lint and dust from the air automatically, saving labor used to clean and maintain feeding, ironing and folding equipment.   
To determine how often to clean your laundry, we recommend reviewing the preventive-maintenance schedules provided with the equipment. Most schedules recommend daily cleaning and inspection of photo sensors and inverters. Inner cabinets and panels should also be inspected and vacuumed on a regular basis.
Maintaining a clean laundry will not only improve the productivity and longevity of your equipment, it will instill a positive image to your employees, existing customer base and potential customers. Every laundry should implement and maintain a comprehensive, persistent cleaning schedule for its entire facility.COMMERCIAL LAUNDERING: Richard Warren is the general manager of Linen King of Central Arkansas, a commercial laundry that provides COG, rental and linen distribution services for healthcare clients. His experience also includes OPL and industrial laundering, linen supply, and leather/fur cleaning.
First of all, I would ask, “Just how clean is the production area supposed to be?” The customer is the judge. If a customer questions your results, then those results aren’t good enough.
Paint and waxed floors can disarm some “inspectors” to the degree they may not be hypercritical. In any event, our job is to furnish hygienically clean work to our customers regardless of how they feel about it.
 
The Panel took a little heat for its opinions about blow-down back in July. In truth, blow-down can be a real problem. When compressed air is introduced into your electrical connections, chaos can result. Plus, blowing debris is a safety issue. We tend to rearrange rather than remove the very things that concern us. There are some low-pressure, high-volume vacuums in use today that are solving many of these issues.
Paint scuffed walls, doors and all bare surfaces. Parking carts in an orderly manner also is pleasing to the eye. Be sure there are no stray linen items on the floor. Get rid of carts of “orphaned” linen. If you have a towel under your coffeepot, make sure it’s not from a customer! And change it frequently.
We tend to judge the work of others by using the criteria we know better than any other: how we do it ourselves. If you’re using the same procedure and products as your customers, they will be more impressed than if you follow the advice of a local janitorial company.
Ask your major customers for advice. I’ll guarantee they will be happy to share some ideas with you. For reasons I’ve stated in the past, I’m hesitant to offer advice to customers. But if you ask them for advice, they will be flattered and realize that you share their concerns and, by extension, values.
Then there is the issue of infection control. Regardless of how well we decorate and tidy our plant, we need to disinfect areas of the plant. Some areas are more critical than others.
The soil-sort conveyor and the floor underneath need to be disinfected regularly. Be sure the wash aisle is dry and that equipment doesn’t have soap scum build-up. If you don’t use an exterminator on a regular basis, get one!
Infection control nurses get concerned with what the linen touches when ironed or folded. Those areas should be disinfected regularly. Do you disinfect soiled-side and clean-side carts regularly?
If we had another set of eyes looking at what we’ve grown accustomed to, we might be surprised at how things appear to them.

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