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When Hotels Upgrade, Pressure's On to Process Carefully (Part 4)

My hotel has upgraded its guest-room linens and bedding package, as well as its restaurant linens. It’s made a sizable investment, so the pressure’s on to clean, handle and store these goods carefully for the longest useful life possible. What advice can you give me?CHEMICALS SUPPLY: Tom Storm is vice president of technical development for WSI, a national company specializing in providing washroom and wastewater chemicals plus accompanying service to commercial laundries. A chemical engineer, Tom has 38 years of laundry industry experience.
Many hotels have upgraded their guest-room linen over the past several years to more luxurious bed linen and heavier towels. Since these items are more costly, it’s not unexpected to try to obtain the longest life possible.
I’ll limit my response to the washing operation, which can have significant impact on the useful life either through poor cleaning and stain removal, or physical and/or chemical damage.
The wash process should be a careful balance between providing enough chemistry, temperature, time and mechanical action to provide proper cleaning, yet be gentle enough to ensure long fabric life. The first key step is to sort soiled goods properly.
Separate more heavily soiled items from lighter-soiled items. The heavier-soiled items can be washed under conditions to optimize the removal of soil and stains, while the lighter-soiled items can be washed more gently to promote longer linen life. Also, sort by color and fabric type.
It’s always best to use the lowest wash temperature possible to reduce color loss and fabric degradation. Lower-temperature washing chemistries are available that are based on surfactant chemistry, as opposed to the more harsh alkali chemistry. Load to the proper weight. Underloading can cause excess mechanical agitation, while overloading can result in poorer cleaning and more rewash.
If the items are colored or contain a substantial amount of cotton, consider using oxygen bleach. Oxygen bleaches are gentler and can be quite effective if used under the proper conditions. Much of the new table linen is 100% spun polyester. Alkalinity can damage polyester; consequently, keep the active alkalinity below 2,000 ppm and temperatures under 160 F.
The use of a small amount of fabric softener (1-2 oz./cwt.) on bath and hand towels will fluff the nap and provide a soft feel, but too much can cause loss of absorbency.
Finally, don’t forget the bedspreads. A clean, fresh-smelling bedspread can greatly complement the upgraded bed linen.

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