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.
Marking may be temporary (guest laundry) or permanent (monogramming of hotel linen). It is the temporary marking that is carried out at this stage. Most good establishments have a marking machine that attaches a heat sealed tape in an inconspicuous place. The tag has scope for six characters and is intended to indicate the initials of the guest as well as the room number. It provides a clear identification and correct billing and although it does not come off in the normal wash process, it can be peeled off if so desired.
To conform to the capacity of the washing machine, weighing linen is important.
Overloading: There is no or low centrifugal action because the linen articles are too tightly packed in the drum. Resultingly, there is inadequate friction and the deeply imbedded soil is not removed so the wash process is ineffective. Certain synthetics develop creases as a result of overloading that are difficult to get rid of in the subsequent ironing process. Repeated overloading can cause the machine to breakdown.
Underloading: In this case, there is centrifugal action but inadequate friction because the linen articles are too far apart. There is a good deal of wastage in terms of time, labour, laundry agents, water and power.
Many modern machines have sensors that can gauge not only the load but also the length of cycle, temperature of water, water level, the type and amount of laundry agent and when it will be dispensed in the wash cycle. This is highly beneficial in the conservation of water and energy as well as reducing wear and tear of the linen articles.
The process of loading the washing machine is often done manually or with a certain degree of automation. Where handling is a taboo, a fully automated system exists. Shovel type cranes are used for lifting and depositing linen, thereby providing complete automation by eliminating the need for handling by operators.
Alternatively, weighed linen in bags is transported along a track and directed to the opening of the washer extractor with the help of a nylon cord. A lock in the lower half of the bag is released, dropping the soiled linen into the washer extractor. Machines that tilt, provide ease in both loading as well as unloading. Machines may be top loading, front loading or side loading.
This process is designed to perform three basic functions of soil removal, soil suspension and soil discharge from the machine to the drain. In the wash process, the following factors must be considered:
- Length of cycle: If the cycle is too short, the linen will not be cleaned. If the cycle is too long, there will be unnecessary wear and tear and the clothes may actually become dirtier as a result of redeposition of soil.
- Temperature of water: If the temperature of water is too high, it is likely to damage the linen. If the temperature is inadequate, the chemicals will not work effectively.
- Water level: Incorrect ‘dip’ levels can alter the concentration of the laundry agents rendering them ineffective. In case of a gentle action, the water level is usually higher forming a protective envelope for the delicate linen.
- Type & amount of detergent and when it will be dispensed in the wash cycle: Deciding which laundry agent should be used depends on the nature of the fabric being washed. Too little detergent will result in an incomplete cleaning process and too much may remain as a residue after the rinse cycle is complete. It is important that the laundry agent is introduced into the wash cycle at the appropriate time if it is to have the required action.
- Mechanical action: This refers to the centrifugal action brought about by the movement of the drum that causes friction between the linen articles and is radically affected by overloading or underloading as well as the speed of the drum.
Modern machinery often operates on sensors, which are capable of gauging each of these requirements for a specific load.
Once the wash cycle is completed, rinsing becomes essential. Rinsing is carried out at least twice and the purpose of this stage is to
- remove residue of laundry agents, which might show as patches on the linen after ironing or irritate the skin
- remove suspended dirt, which remains in the carry over liquor in the load at the end of the wash
- lower the temperature of the wash load by using a cold water rinse or alternatively reduce the temperature of water in consecutive rinses. A running rinse with an open drain is more effective but a larger volume of water is utilised.