Factors that impact textile lifecycle and cost
Incidental Loss, Theft and Abuse
Textiles are at risk of theft while at the laundry, in transportation to the use areas and while in use. In addition to outright theft of product from unsecured areas, it may be removed from service as rags to be illicitly resold or removed as trash and reclaimed downstream as part of an organized theft. In hospitals and other institutions, laundry chutes can cause textile damage in the following ways:
- Chutes with unrepaired metal tears and fatigue cause mechanical damage to textiles.
- Typically, there’s no consideration given to provide access to laundry chutes from inspection and repair, often making repairs to damaged chutes very difficult and in some cases impossible.
- Chutes allowed to accumulate soiled textiles in some cases back up the chute to the highest floors of the building. When this happens, thousands of pounds of pressure are realized at the bottom of the chutes.
- Many floors of soiled textiles in the chute create significant weight at the bottom of the chute. When product is pulled from the chute under such conditions, it typically may result in tearing the textiles.
- Cement floors – “disaster” occurs when wet textiles fall directly on the floor, creating conditions that make it extremely difficult to remove the cement stains.
Chemical Damage in End-User Locations
Many disinfectants, cleaners and medications contain alkalis, acids, bleaches or other chemicals that can damage fabric and cause it to deteriorate. Damage begins when these chemicals come in contact with textile products through improper handling practices, such as:
- Using soiled textiles to wipe up spilled cleaners and disinfectants.
- Resting containers of cleaners and disinfectants on textiles.
- Accidentally spilling cleaning solutions on textiles, or dropping them into cleaning solutions.
- Placing cleaning rags together with soiled textiles.
- Storing cleaning and disinfecting materials with textiles.
- Using as drop cloths.
Hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices handle many potential harmful substances that can have an adverse effect on fabrics, including corrosives, disinfectants and astringents. These chemicals can damage almost any fabric, regardless of its condition or age. The following table lists several substances that can negatively impact textiles.
To prevent chemical damage to textiles, textile product users must recognize potential for damage from chemical compounds and take these precautions:
- Label all chemical substances.
- Store clean textiles in separate containers or areas, away from cleaning compounds.
- Store chemical substances in tightly closed containers and prevent or minimize the escape of fumes or powders during use.
- Keep wiping cloths in separate containers, away from textiles. Rags can be dyed a different color to prevent misuse; wipers sent to the laundry should be kept in separate bags.
Observed End-User Inventory Practices
We have seen that reducing par levels to a low level reduces the life cycle of textiles. The resulting unintended consequence of lowering the inventory isn’t usually recognized for what it is, e.g. increased operational hours due to interruptions to cover shortages, increased housekeeping, labor, etc. The “bottom line” is higher operational costs.
Also, linens that are circulated at hospitals with onpremise laundries may still be warm from processing when placed into service. Under these circumstances, cotton fibers are more vulnerable to damage.
Maintaining an adequate inventory of textiles in circulation achieves a lower cost of replacement, in part due to textiles having an opportunity to recover from the laundering process prior to being injected into service.Source: TRSA