OPL 101: Wash Formulas, Equipment: Some Key Considerations


(Image licensed by Ingram Publishing)

Bill Brooks |

RIPON, Wis. — Every on-premises laundry manager knows that running an efficient, effective laundry is a team effort, and that the two most important players are equipment and wash chemicals. When these two components run seamlessly, laundries operate at peak performance and managers increase throughput coupled with the best wash results.

In addition, when considering the best method to get linens clean, be aware that laundry technologies and sustainability are as important as choosing the wash formula that best complements your equipment.


Partnering with the right chemical company is key to creating the perfect wash formula. Companies like Ecolab, which specializes in water, hygiene and energy technologies, make the process easy for all parties involved.

“Our job becomes effortless when we partner with a company that knows the throughput and efficiencies of their machines,” says Jim Mitchell, lead technical service specialist at Ecolab. “We are able to complement what wash formulas and chemistries work best to guarantee superior wash results.”


Ensuring the ultimate in clean linens is oftentimes classified as an exact science. Wash formulas are fine-tuned according to temperatures in use, soil types and linens being cleaned, but they do the best job when partnered with washer-extractors that feature the technologies and programming capabilities that can also be tailored to different load types.

Wash formulas are developed with the market in mind. There are a number of factors that help wash chemicals perform as promised, including the type of market (hospitality, healthcare, athletic, universities, food/beverage), water temperatures, sediments in the water, and the equipment used within the market.

For example, wash formulas that had once required high volumes of water and energy costs—primarily the costs associated with heating high volumes of water—are being replaced with shorter cycles and lower temperatures. However, in some cases, the alteration of formulas and lowering of wash temperatures presents a challenge for wash chemical companies, and may affect some accreditation requirements.

In some markets, such as hospitals, the laundering process is often regulated by state or local health departments, or by accreditation agencies. These organizations may require specific wash formulas, temperatures and chemistries used in the laundry operation to produce “hygienically clean” linens, including EPA-registered laundry products.

The solution, Mitchell says, is simple. “Whenever possible, work to find a ‘happy medium’—one that satisfies health departments and chemical companies, while at the same time reducing energy costs and providing clean linens for customers.”


Some state-of-the-art laundry control systems allow for wireless networking that makes programming wash chemicals seamless. With wireless networking, machines do not have to be reprogrammed. Rather, wash formulas are already included as a key component in the installation of new equipment. Networking also allows chemical companies to program laundry machines efficiently from a laptop versus manually programming the machine, a process which can take several hours.

“Our technicians can hook up cables, program the right formulas into the system and program machines in a matter of seconds. Large laundry manufacturers that specialize in on-premises laundries understand that having a wireless network provides more than just monitoring capabilities for operators—they help to ease initial set-up and maintenance needs as well,” says Mitchell.


Another new feature that maximizes the life of linens is spray rinse technology, which leaves up to 22% less residual wash chemistry in the load compared to machines that utilize bath rinses alone. When chemicals remain on linens during the drying process, the heat will cause them to yellow or gray over time.

Additionally, the residue can cause linens to become stiff and rough, which negates the purpose of the original linen investment. Chemicals left in linens that are used by long-term care facilities and hospitals also pose a risk and can cause skin irritation if not addressed by proper rinse methods.

Unlike bath rinses, which only dilute wash chemistry, unique spray rinse technology pulls chemicals through the load and down the drain. Spray rinse technology not only decreases the presence of residual wash chemistry, it also decreases cycle rinse time by up to 12%, which increases throughput and decreasing water consumption.


To further reduce the possibility of wash chemicals remaining in linens during the drying process, operators should consider investing in a washer-extractor with 400 G-force extraction, which will remove the maximum amount of final rinse water from the load.

Purchasing a washer-extractor with high-G-force extraction will also help to decrease drying times and labor and utility costs. When comparing 100-G-force washers and 300-plus-G-force washers, the extra water removed by a high-G-force machine can reduce drying time by 30%. Super-high G-force (300-plus) is the single greatest factor in reducing energy consumption in a laundry.


When it comes to final wash quality, the most important consideration is matching the right chemical and wash program for the items being laundered. The ability of the wash equipment to have unlimited flexibility and ease of programming, along with efficient technology like spray rinse and wireless networking, assures the quality results are matched with the best throughput and efficiencies.

About the author

Bill Brooks


National Sales Manager

Bill Brooks is the national sales manager for UniMac, a provider of on-premises laundry equipment. He can be reached at or 920-748-4437.


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