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Maximizing Laundry Care Efficiency, Effectiveness (Part 1 of 2)

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(Photo © iStockphoto/buchachon)

Steve Kovacs |

CINCINNATI –  A constant challenge for today’s launderers is improving their current operation and making choices that increase productivity. Two priorities that should drive laundry care operations are efficiency and effectiveness.

To achieve these goals, management must regularly review its laundry procedures to find ways to maximize performance, protect linen investments, improve cleaning results and, ultimately, provide cost savings and customer satisfaction.

In today’s tough economic climate, it’s crucial that management establish and update policies and procedures. Following are best practices to help launderers evaluate and improve their commercial laundry operations to boost efficiency and effectiveness.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT DETERGENT

There are two major types of detergents—alkaline and near neutral. Alkaline detergents have a high pH formulation, which is effective in removing body soils, grease and the like; however, linens require multiple rinses, or the use of an acid rinse to return the pH as close to neutral as possible. Alkaline detergents are also corrosive; cause safety concerns in handling among employees; and cause linens to retain mineral encrustation (creating stiff, rough-feeling fabrics), resulting in greater wear and tear, which leads to more frequent linen-replacement needs and costs.

Near neutral detergents can also provide effective cleaning to remove soils. Cleaning products that are phosphate-free with a near neutral pH formula can extend linen life and make fabrics noticeably softer to the touch. With a near neutral pH detergent, there is no need for pH correction through use of an acid; there’s less wear and tear on fabrics, and it is non-corrosive and safer for employees to handle.

Extending linen life can result in greater cost savings as linen replacement needs decrease. In one example, testing has shown that a leading detergent with a near neutral pH helped reduce operational costs by providing up to 55% savings in linen replacement costs due to worn fabrics.

When choosing the right products, consider choosing a total laundry system that works together for effective cleaning to get the job done right the first time. A laundry system should encompass a complete suite of commercial products from near neutral pH detergents for a variety of cleaning needs, to fabric softeners and stain fighters. Together these products can rejuvenate, protect and extend the life of linens, while producing familiar softness and freshness on fabrics. This, once again, also results in reduced replacement costs and helps laundry efficiency over time.

STAIN REMOVAL

Before washing, staff should treat tough stains with an appropriate stain remover. There are multipurpose stain removers to treat general stains; rust stain removers to remove stubborn stains like rust, tea and coffee; as well as stain fighters designed to treat foodservice linens by helping prevent “locked-in” grease stains. Spot-check any tough stains on clothing and linens and apply the treatment before washing. This will help keep your laundry looking like new.

SUSTAINABLE CLEANING

Every laundry operation should have a sustainable laundry care program, which can be accomplished in several ways. By simply doing things right the first time, staff can reduce rework and repeated use of products for cleaning the same linens. In fact, source reduction is usually the most cost-effective approach to sustainable cleaning. Concentrated detergents are important as their smaller, concentrated bottles means using less product for each load, less packaging per bottle and ultimately less trucks on the road transporting products for sale.

Make sure laundry care products do not contain phosphates, known carcinogens, APEs or NPEs, or other reproductive toxins, and that they meet the California Code of Regulations maximum allowable volatile organic compounds (VOC) levels. Management should also ensure that laundry care products are safe for employees to use.

Commercial launderers should use energy-saving equipment and features to help boost performance and utility conservation. Make sure to have procedures to ensure equipment is running at optimum levels, and remember that preventive, routine maintenance is a must. This will save time, effort and money down the road.

Another consideration of being “green” is social sustainability. One way to be socially responsible is to donate “unusable” linens to local shelters and other charitable organizations. This can be a great way to give back to the community and further extend the use of the linens.

Check back tomorrow for the conclusion!

About the author

Steve Kovacs

P&G Professional

R&D Section Head

Steve Kovacs is R&D section head at P&G Professional, where he leads product development and customer understanding for cleaning product solutions provided for P&G’s Hospitality, Healthcare and Building, Cleaning and Maintenance businesses. Prior to joining P&G Professional, he held numerous R&D positions at Procter & Gamble. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Louisville and an MBA degree from Xavier University, and is an inventor on seven U.S. patents.

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