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Proper Finishing and End-User Perception, Satisfaction (Part 1)

Value of appearance, feel to end-users, assuring quality finish

CHICAGO — Proper washing of linens is vital to provide end-users clean, hygienic goods.

However, the value of excellent finishing can’t be overlooked to provide linens with the feel and look that convinces customers their goods are truly clean and ready for use.

American Laundry News spoke with two experts in the hotel and healthcare laundry markets—Nick Fertig, director of central laundry, Rosen Hotels and Resorts, Orlando, and Randy Bartsch, chairman and CEO of both Ecotex Healthcare Linen Service in Seattle and the Healthcare Linen Alliance (HLA)—to learn more about how to give linens a finish with a flourish to please end-users.

Describe the end-users of your products.

FERTIG: The Rosen portfolio hosts a wide variety of end-users. We have both leisure properties and convention properties. Guests staying with us could be visiting one of the many theme parks within Florida or taking part in a giant convention. We also host many international travelers that typically take part in extended stays.  

BARTSCH: The true “end-users” of our linens and textiles are patients and their families who require some level of medical care and are having to interact with the healthcare complex.  For many, even most patients, this is a confusing and stressful time.

We understand that the linen and laundry services we provide using Hygienically Clean® certified processing standards are important tools used in patient care.

At Ecotex, our commitment to our customers, the hospitals providing this medical care, is to help provide a safe, comfortable environment for patient care.

What do your end-users expect from those products in terms of look and feel? How important is neatness, crispness, the overall appearance and feel of product to the end user’s satisfaction?

FERTIG: Guests are looking for clean, crisp and bright white flatwork on their beds. They also expect soft, fluffy and bright white terry in their bathrooms. 

First impressions are everything. A perfectly made bed with bright, white linens is the first thing a guest sees when they enter the room. It sets the stage for the rest of the stay. If the linens are wrinkled and the terry is rough, guests notice. 

Considering how competitive the hospitality market is in Florida, impeccable linens are non-negotiable to both secure business but also ensure the guests return.

BARTSCH: Patient expectations for linens and towels used in a hospital environment vary. They use their home experiences as a bearing point for comparison and judgment. But the common denominator is clean, bright white and fresh linen.

For the bedding, the appearance of ironing is important. For towels, again, clean, bright white and a fresh smell. For most people, these are “tells” that the linen is freshly clean and sanitized.

These are similar product characteristics for the housekeepers who handle the linens, make the beds and deliver the reusable healthcare textiles throughout the hospital are looking for as well. Housekeepers, medical staff, administrators and patients are looking at the carts of clean linen in the hallways. Linen, sheets and towels that are folded need to be stacked neat and straight on the carts. 

Other items like lab coats, isolation gowns, patient gowns and scrubs need to appear neat and orderly, whether they are in bags, stacked on carts or on hangers.

If the linens and textiles are correctly processed and sanitized, the hand or feel of the fabric will present as expected. If the pH is off or residue remains in the fabric, the linens will feel not right. The fabric may look a little yellowish or maybe feel hard, even scratchy.  

If you’re in the hospital, the first thing you do is size up the place. You need to know you’re going to be safe. This is an experience we have all had during the pandemic when we were out in public. Am I going to be safe?

Just as you experience when you fly, the first thing you do is look for clean seats and tray tables on the plane. If the seats and tray tables are dirty, you wonder how well the airline and its employees really care. This begs the question, is this how they do their engine maintenance, too?

How do you finish your goods so that end-users are pleased?

FERTIG: We partner with Ecolab to ensure that our washer and dryer formulas are spot on. Avoiding stains and ensuring that product is in its peak processing state after exiting the dry cycle is crucial. We perform moisture retention tests for flatwork to identify the percentage that yields the highest quality finished product. 

We have a monthly linen budget for all properties that allows us to remove any product that has reached the end of its useful life. 

We also utilize a cloud-based preventative maintenance program that ensures all maintenance is being performed on our equipment. Your quality is directly correlated to properly performing equipment. Things like worn-out belts, damaged pads and dirty sensors can all impact finishing quality. 

Lastly, we constantly train our associates on proper feeding methods and proper cart loading methods. You can have the best quality in the world as it comes out of your ironer, but if you take that perfect sheet and haphazardly toss it into a metro, you just threw your quality product out the window.

BARTSCH: To assure that the linen and textiles we provide are clean and sanitized we follow the Hygienically Clean®certified processing standards.

We make sure our power plant is generating adequate steam, heat and hot water at all times.  That goes for water hardness as well. We monitor the pH of our production batches, do regular titrations for chemicals and conduct tests of our finished goods to assure we are maintaining process integrity.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion on finishing challenges, processes and advice.