Laundry is becoming a more sustainable practice, thanks to a variety of innovations in the process and associated products. Detergents are playing their part in reducing the environmental impact of each and every laundry cycle. New formulations, coupled with dedicated campaigns to encourage less impactful practices, are helping make environmentally conscious washing norms. However, green initiatives are something the industry struggles with because these often cost more money.
Research and developments are guided by the challenges one faces in a given scenario and later to achieve better sustainable practices. Before getting into the latest trends in fabric cleaning, it is therefore necessary to know the four interdependent factors that define the cleaning performance.
- Chemical action (chemical energy):This represents the action of the dissolved detergent. The action is increased or decreased by the concentration of the detergent ingredients in the solution (water + product).
- Mechanical action (mechanical energy):This is the mechanical action of the washing machine, which generates friction and pressure. For manual washing,when no equipment or devices are used, the person doing the cleaning is considered to provide mechanical action by rubbing, sometimes with the help of auxiliary devices (e.g. scrubbing board).
- Temperature effect (thermal energy):Heat is often used in cleaning activities. The elevated temperature enhances the chemical reactions, solubilises greasy soils and weakens the binding forces of the soil on the fabric.
- Time:The duration of the cleaning operations determines how long the product is allowed to act. Combined with the mechanical, thermal and chemical action, the duration affects the cleaning power. Longer cleaning times will typically improve the cleaning performance.
Innovators have worked on the above four factors individually or in combination to develop a technology that could help in reducing the chemical, water & energy and thus contributing to greater savings and greener environment.
Innovative Trends and technologies for fabric Cleaning
- Low temperature detergent formulations
- Polymer bead technology
- Ozone technology
- Ultra-sonic technology
Low Temperature Detergent Formulation
There is a transition to lower temperature washing that has been enabled by recent product innovations. Small changes in wash temperatures are able to generate significant savings in energy consumption. By way of indication, a 3°C reduction in washing temperature among the five countries involved in the campaign would deliver an annual energy saving 1,307.9GWh – the equivalent of the electricity consumed by a city of 180,000 inhabitants in a year.
Below is the comparative done between traditional fabric washing & low temperature.
The low temperature detergent formulations have brought about considerable saving in water, energy, increased linen life & reduced effluent load with efficient soil removal.
Polymer Bead Technology
A new innovation based on the hydrophilic properties of polymer beads delivers a trio of benefits:
- better cleaning
- lower cost
- a green solution
This technology which uses tiny polymer beads to get linens and towels clean by using much less water and detergent in the process. This not only delivers superior cleaning power, but also saves money and helps achieve greener environment.
A hydrophilic molecule or portion of a molecule is one that is typically chargepolarized and capable of hydrogen bonding, enabling it to dissolve more readily in water. By combining the beads’ molecular structure with a proprietary detergent solution, dirt from soiled items is attracted and absorbed by the beads, producing cleaner results. These reusable beads have a lifespan of hundreds of washes before being collected and recycled.
Hotels are just starting to adopt polymer bead cleaning technology for their inhouse laundry. This is part of a wider trend where hotels are increasingly adopting green practices to conserve resources and reduce their costs.
The benefits of a polymer bead cleaning system include both immediate savings from decreased laundry costs and savings over time from an increased useful life of linens.
By converting in-house laundry operations to a polymer bead washing system, hotels can cut laundry costs by up to 50 percent or more with immediate savings in water, energy and detergents.
Tough stains are removed better with this new technology, the linens can be used for longer periods of time. The polymer bead cleaning solutionoutperforms traditional washing methods with today’s laundry machines. As a result, hotels can deliver cleaner linens to their guests and keep their inventory in circulation longer.
Ozone laundry provides hoteliers with an opportunity to diminish their environmental impact while achieving significant reductions in their operational costs. The process involves completion of the wash cycle using water saturated with ozone, instead of standard tap water. Laundry disinfecting has been traditionally
accomplished by bleaching with chlorine at high temperatures along with mechanical action. This bleach is normally a slow reactant at cold temperatures, so hot water is used in conventional washers to enhance the oxidation reaction of chlorine bleach. Ozone O3 which has the property of releasing Nascent Oxygen [O] which can be used as disinfect the linen and can act as a substitute for chlorine bleach.