Frequent Lint Removal Improves Plant Safety and Productivity, Boosts Morale (Part 1 of 3)

Because of the amount of lint that a laundry generates, how often should my laundry be blown off, and to what degree? Do you recommend having a formal policy that describes exactly what is to be done and when? What benefits can I reap from a lint-removal program?COMMERCIAL LAUNDERING: Richard Warren is the general manager of Institutional Services Corp., 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.
Have you ever seen a lint fire!!??
It’s surprising how rapidly lint can accumulate. With today’s electronics, lint can cause machines to malfunction by covering their sensors. Sometimes those problems are hard to spot, but a daily blow-down can help.
I think all laundry machines should be blown down each day, and the interior of the facility each week.
I’ve never been a big supporter of explicit policies. Several things can go wrong if they contain a high degree of detail. In this case, if an employee follows the written steps, he will assume he’s done a good job. And who can argue that he hasn’t? But if some areas have been missed in the policy, they’ll be missed in the plant as well. So, you must change the policy or those areas will never be cleaned.
Is the frequency adequate or overkill? A policy change is indicated again. And if circumstances change, the blow-down policy should change, too. For example, an increase or decrease of volume will affect the amount of lint involved.
It’s my opinion that the plant manager must be allowed to use discretion, exercise some accountability and maintain a neat and orderly operation. Will he be a policy reader or will he be able to do what he knows intellectually? Which would we managers prefer?
Housekeeping is always noted during customer visits. And your friends or peers who visit will compare operations and take note of the discipline your staff displays. A key element is the morale of your staff.
If lint is falling onto the ironer, or into a cart of clean linen, or even blowing around on the floor, staff will register that fact. It will affect their willingness to go out of their way to ship an outstanding product.CHEMICALS SUPPLY: Tom Storm is vice president of technical development for WSI, a national company specializing in providing washroom and wastewater chemicals plus accompanying service to commercial laundries. A chemical engineer, Tom has 38 years of laundry industry experience.
I don’t have expertise in the area of frequency of lint removal by “blowing off” equipment; however, one approach to a lint-removal program is to minimize its generation. I thought I’d provide a few observations about minimizing lint production.
Lint is generated by small fibers that break loose from yarns due to mechanical agitation in the washer or the dryer. The propensity of fibers to break loose can be increased by chemical attack.
Previously, lint mainly consisted of cotton. But with the introduction of spun-polyester fabrics, this is no longer the case.
The soft texture of spun-poly fabrics is due to loose bundling of polyester fibers in the yarn. The looseness of the yarns increases the possibility of lint formation.
The first defense against excessive lint production is fabric selection. Cotton items that use short staple fibers in the yarns will produce more lint. This can especially be a problem with shop towels and bar mops. The short-fiber items normally are less expensive; therefore, they will be a cost tradeoff versus lint production.
For spun-poly fabrics, a tighter weave will produce less lint. Also, surface abrasion is sometimes used to produce a softer feel in spun-poly fabrics. Excess abrasion can be a source of excessive lint.
A second cause of lint production is excessive mechanical agitation. Water levels that are too low, as well as the underloading of washers, will cause excessive agitation. Low-level operations that are run too long will produce excessive agitation, as will drain times that are too long.
A third cause of lint production is chemical attack. If excessive lint is being produced in a plant, check to see if it is cotton or polyester. Cotton burns. Polyester melts.
If the lint is cotton, check the bleach step. Improper bleaching conditions (e.g., a pH level that’s too low if chlorine is used, a temperature that’s too high, a bleach concentration that’s too high, etc.) can produce copious amounts of cotton lint.
If the lint is polyester, the bleaching operation isn’t the cause because polyester isn’t affected by bleach. Polyester is affected by high alkalinity through a chemical reaction called alkaline hydrolysis.
If spun-poly fabrics are being processed, keep the active alkalinity below 2,000 parts per million and the temperature below 165 F.


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