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It is important to follow correct laundry procedures to obtain best results. Each fabric merits a different washcycle and should be adhered to, to prolong its longevity.

Laundry procedures for different fabrics

A good laundry facility ensures careful handling of linen articles while laundering, processing and using of suitable laundry agent. While materials are kept white, excessive bleach is not used, proper counting done & records maintained to avoid shortages of linen, speedy operations and sound policies regarding damage or loss. The two main principles of laundering are removal of dirt and stains from the linen articles and restoring linen articles to their original appearance as far as possible.

Cottons

The process of laundering cotton fabrics depends on its texture, fastness of colour and the finish appropriate to its use. Sorting according to fine, delicate cotton (mulmul, muslin); white & light fast colours; dark, fast colours and non-fast colours is the first and main stage in laundering.

A further classification is carried out into coarse articles, bed linen, personal articles and table linen. Sorting determines the temperature of water in the main wash, the need for disinfection/sterilisation, the detergent used, the speed of rotation of the drum, the length of the washcycle, the use of bleach and optical brighteners, the need to starch and hydro-extraction.

Silk

Silk should be washed frequently as perspiration damages the fabric. The articles should never be soaked as it weakens the fabric nor should it be subjected to high heat (wash temperature approximately 30ºC).

The detergent should have a good surfactant and should not depend on mechanical action for cleaning. No harsh chemicals should be used. The final rinse of silk fabric should be carried out with a little vinegar in it (1tsp/10lt water) in order to preserve lustre. Silk is too delicate to be hydro-extracted. Silk should never be sun-dried as this damages the fabric and causes yellowing. Ironing should be done on medium heat as silk scorches easily. The article must be evenly dampened and water never sprinkled on the fabric as it leaves marks. Ensure that the articles are completely dry so that creases do not reappear on the portion which is damp. Ironing is carried out on the reverse in order to preserve lustre. Air all silk garments after ironing. Silk is usually dry-cleaned.

Wool

In the laundering of wool, the articles must be shaken out to remove dust particles that are held in the loosely knit weave. Hand-knitted garments are susceptible to felting and stretching. Mark the outline of the article prior to washing and arrange it in its original size and shape after laundering and dry flat. In the laundering of wool, avoid application of friction, fluctuating and high temperatures, use of strong laundry agents, wringing tightly and hydro-extraction, hanging the fabric when wet and prolonged soaking as it makes the fabric weak.

The capacity of the machine may be disregarded due to bulkiness of the article. The movement of the drum should be gentle. Never use a scrubbing brush. The washcycle should be short and water temperature should not be more than 35ºC. The rinse cycle should be thorough with borax added to the final rinse water to prevent matting. Pumping action is permitted for the removal of moisture. Usually ironing is not required, but wherever necessary, iron when the article is completely dry, using a low temperature and on the reverse of the article. It is essential to air the fabric after ironing.

Synthetics

These are manufactured so that they shed dirt quickly in the wash. However, if they get heavily soiled, (especially collars, cuffs and saree borders) they become difficult to clean. Hence, it is better to wash them after every use.

Soak the garments before laundering as it loosens the dirt. Care must be taken when loading the machine as overloading results in creases which may be difficult to remove later. The application of friction scrubbing brush which should be restricted to heavily soiled parts only. The wash cycle is short and carried out at a low temperature (30ºC). Rinsing should be carried out in water at room temperature. The hydro-extraction cycle is also short as synthetic articles have low absorbency. Iron on low heat but quickly because a prolonged contact is likely to scorch the fabric.

Dry Cleaning

This is a process by which textiles are cleaned using a solvent other than water. This solvent is usually an organic liquid that first removes the layer of grease which bonds most grease particles to the surface and then carries the dirt away. The solvents used are Perchloroethylene and Tri-chloro-tri-fluoro-ethane.

The solvent is removed first by centrifugal action and finally by evaporation. The solvent being expensive is filtered and recycled. Darker coloured articles are dry cleaned after the lighter coloured ones. All articles should be aired after the dry cleaning process. Where Perchloroethylene is not suitable, a system called Aquatex from Iowa Techniques is used. It involves the use of bio-degradable chemicals & water and a controlled stage-by-stage drying temperature that restores the article to its original condition

As technology vendors strive to automate every face of operation, some might think laundry service has been left behind. Computerised laundry systems have been in use since the mid 80s and today as hoteliers realise the potential benefits of cleaning up the laundry operations, more and more streamlining processes are starting to filter into the industry. Some hotels are experimenting with Windows-based laundry software and ozone washing.

Ozone washing is an energy efficient system that can cut laundry costs by 50%. Ozone is a powerful oxidizer formed when an electric current passes through oxygen. Ozone washing became popular in the US in the mid 80s. It is carried out by mass injection of ozone into the laundry system via cold water lines. The resulting ozonated water facilitates the breakdown of insoluble soils leading to a host of benefits.

Ozone washing cuts detergent use by 60%. It reduces the need for hot water and cuts energy costs by 80%. The returns on investment could be as little as two years. Little hot water, reduced chemicals and shorter wash cycles greatly extends the life of linen and also the life of the laundry staff.

 

Avril Sule
Hospitality Educator and Trainer

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