High-End Textiles: What's the Formula?

Bruce Beggs |

CHICAGO – Development of wash formulas for high-end hospitality textiles is still in its infancy, Ecolab’s John Birckbichler reported during the Luxury Linens Seminar presented by the Textile Rental Services Association of America (TRSA).
His company has had experience in developing wash formulas for 300tc 50/50 polyester/cotton duvets, sheets and pillowcases; 300tc 100% cotton duvets, sheets and pillowcases; 200tc cotton-rich blend; 100% ring spun polyester; and 100% polyester knitted fleece.
Controlling the wash water is essential to successfully process high-thread-count sheets, for example.
“The textile is one thing,” says Birckbichler, Ecolab’s director of corporate accounts technical support. “The soil is another. The water conditions are paramount [to processing correctly]. You really need to know what the water conditions are.”
• Temperature: “We’re talking low water temperatures, 110 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit.”
• Iron content: “We can use bleach on some of these textiles, but very sparingly. Iron will have a very negative impact, not only on the bleach’s ability but also on the potential discoloration of the textiles.”
• Water softness: “The softness can be up to 2 grains hard. ... The harder the water, the more potential deposition you can have on the linen.”
Separate linens by fiber type: 100% cotton, 50/50 polycotton blend and 100% polyester. Flat sheets, accent throws, pillowcases and duvet inserts are all processed differently, “so keeping these items separate is extremely important,” Birckbichler warns.
Soil levels are light, medium and stain-treat. Textile colors to separate are white, colored and both. Birckbichler cautions operators to watch textiles containing dark dyes or featuring colored borders and embroidery for the potential for bleeding.
Washer conditions also must be considered. Watch the level controls, water flow/volume, drain valves, therms used, cylinder rotation, reversing action and extract speeds, he says.
These textiles have different recommended load weights for open-pocket washers. Sheets can be loaded to 100% rated capacity, for example, while bedspreads should be loaded to 80% and duvets to 50%.
And when it comes to wash formulas, Birckbichler recommends the following:
• Use the correct wash formula that is specific to classification and minimizes the potential for fabric damage.
• Post the accepted wash formulas and train personnel on their use.
• Don’t mix different classifications or colors of textiles.
• Don’t short-rinse.
In closing, he suggested processing formulas for several types of luxury linens:
• Flat sheets, fitted sheets and decorative top sheets – Wash at 110-120 F in a light-soil wash formula. Don’t use bleach, and don’t overdry.
• Knitted accent throw – Wash at 110-120 F in a light-soil wash formula. Don’t use bleach, and don’t overdry. These throws will show some loss of softness over time.
• 100% polyester knitted fleece – Wash at 110-120 F in a light-soil wash formula. Don’t use bleach. Use fabric softener to maintain softness. Don’t overdry.
• Embroidered pillowcases – Wash at 110-120 F in a medium-soil wash formula. Don’t use bleach, and don’t overdry.
• Accent throws – Wash at 110-120 F in a light-soil wash formula. Don’t use bleach, and don’t overdry. Load dryers to 33% to 50% rated capacity and use a low temperature setting.

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.


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