Commercial Laundry: David Griggs, Superior Linen Service, Muskogee, Okla.
Purchasing the correct linen for your facility is one of the biggest decisions you will make. There is much more to a linen decision than just the price.
Before you start sourcing out your linen supplier, you should know about your current linen usage. At a minimum you should know how many turns you are currently getting out of your linen. If, for example, you inject 10 sheets for every 100 sheets you ship out, then you are getting 10 turns out of your sheets (that would be extremely low, but easy math for the example).
It is also good to analyze your current rag outs before you consider what type of linen you are going to purchase.
If you see a large amount of rags due to staining, then you may not want to go with a higher priced product that may have a longer wear life since stains are your rag-out issue. The same could also be said that if you see that you are ragging quite a bit of linen due to wear, then you may want to go with a more durable product.
I have three categories I like to measure linen by.
Price. I don’t use the cost of the item for this measurement, I use the times you must turn it in your system to pay for it and how many turns you can realistically get out of it. Purchasing a cheap product that doesn’t last very long will usually cost you more in the long run.
Buying an expensive product that you place in a high-loss area also doesn’t work out in the long run.
Weight. We like to get samples of any linen we are considering purchasing and perform at least six test washes of the item. We weigh it before the first wash and after each test wash. All items usually start out the same weight, but some may be as much as 15% lighter after a few washes.
Processing. All the different weights and blends of linen process differently. A thicker, heavier item will take longer to dry in your drier or force you to run your ironer slower. The higher the polyester percentage, the faster an item will dry. Once again, it is a good idea to test how fast your new item may dry.
Items that cost more to purchase but process faster can sometimes be the cheapest in the long run.
Chemicals Supply: Lauren Hunker, Ecolab, Eagan, Minn.
Textile specifications are a great starting point when comparing new textiles for purchase, but ultimately the most informative and realistic information of how a new textile will compare is collected through internal wash testing.
Conducting wash tests at the plant directly represents the processes the goods will see throughout their lifecycle. There are many factors that can contribute to variability in linen integrity of the same textile just at the facility alone, including washing and finishing equipment, wash formula structure, and chemicals.
It is important to understand how the linen holds up under specific conditions, as this can affect linen replacement costs and directly impact profitability.
Third-party testing can be beneficial when internal wash test results differ from the expected quality derived from vendor specifications.
The Ecolab Textile Care team supports our customers in compiling data of new textiles in such instances. Our team can perform extended wash-cycle testing on textiles, evaluating linen quality after exposure to a customer’s wash process.
We provide information on color integrity, shrinkage, weight loss, tensile strength and general observations (pilling, loose threads, feel of material). We have the capability to quantify some of the quality metrics with instruments that our customers may not have access to.
While this information can be extremely valuable, it only captures the wash process conditions and will not capture the external variables that onsite wash tests provide.