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Laundry Managers Say Cleanliness Changes Likely to Remain

Survey indicates already high cleanliness procedures enhanced because of COVID-19

CHICAGO — The coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people live, how the world operates.

Of course, laundry and linen services, which are essential to daily life, have had to make changes. Most laundry managers say their operations have made changes—and expect some of those change to become “normal,” according to the most recent American Laundry News Your Views survey

Nearly 80% of laundry managers who took the survey say their operation made changes.

More than 20% indicate their facility made no changes, which isn’t surprising because before the pandemic hit, almost 60% of respondents indicate their laundries paid “a lot” of attention to facility cleanliness and disinfection.

About 32% say they paid “some” attention to it, while only close to 9% say their facility paid “a little” attention to cleanliness and disinfection.

“We have always been crazy on having a clean facility,” a respondent writes, “and this has not changed as we feel that you cannot send out clean items with a dirty facility, so this is how we operate.”

As would be expected, overwhelmingly (85%), those who took the survey indicate that attention to cleanliness and disinfection increased because of COVID-19. Nearly 12% say there was no increase, and 3% didn’t know if their operation increased attention.

Some of the changes managers indicate their facilities made include:

  • Twice daily employee temperature checks and workplace distancing with masks.
  • Added another step by utilizing electrostatic spraying as a daily routine.
  • Disinfecting touch surfaces routinely throughout the day. Making hand sanitizer readily available. Educating, re-educating workforce ongoingly.
  • Increased disinfection practices with documentation.
  • Daily cleaning and disinfection of laundry and its environment, including floors, walls, machines, equipment, trolleys, furniture and containers.
  • We now disinfect with Decon 7 fogging and adding it to the laundry wash line.
  • Raised all wash temperatures.
  • Adjusted break schedules for social separation. Added one janitor to disinfect all high-traffic areas and all contact surfaces. Added vinyl curtains on the small piece feeders. Temperature (self-check) checks at start and end of shifts. Face masks mandatory for all, including visitors.
  • Disinfectant stations all machines sanitized end of shift.
  • More cleaning supplies; increased dedicated staff just to clean.

When asked, “if your laundry made cleaning changes, do you think they will become permanent,” nearly 72% responded yes. Almost 16% of laundry managers taking the survey don’t expect the changes to be permanent while close to 13% didn't know.

Some of the changes survey takers expect to remain are:

  • Bathroom, time clock and break area daily disinfecting.
  • Employee protocols to use sanitizer.
  • Electrostatic spraying.
  • Routine touchpoint sanitizing will continue.
  • Sanitizer spray down of entire facility three times a week.
  • The extra PPE and more frequent cleaning.
  • Our facility now uses a gun to spray Oxivir on all COVID rooms. Makes areas very sanitary. I believe this will be kept even after COVID.
  • Wiping down equipment and high-touch areas.
  • Everything will stay in place.

When asked, “overall, what is your main concern when it comes to the cleanliness of your facility,” nearly half of respondents indicate the health and safety of their employees is their focus. The next most important concern (17.7%) is assuring that goods stay clean, followed by customer health and safety (11.8%).

Only around 6% of managers who took the survey say that maintaining equipment is a key concern with facility cleanliness, and no one answered “following regulations.”

While the Your Views survey presents a snapshot of readers’ viewpoints at a particular moment, it should not be considered scientific. Due to rounding, percentages may not add up to 100%.

Subscribers to American Laundry News e-mails are invited to take the industry survey anonymously online each quarter. All managers and administrators of institutional/OPL, cooperative, commercial and industrial laundries are encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define operator opinions and identify industry trends.