In any residential establishment, a lot of dirty linen accumulates in the various units and departments. It is essential to ensure a continuous supply of linen, which is well laundered, so that operations can be carried out smoothly and efficiently. Linen is an expensive item, so how it will be laundered requires serious consideration. People involved in handling linen should have some knowledge of the process. Moreover, the Housekeeper and Linenkeeper should have a good rapport with the Laundry Manager. Although it is essential that good quality linen be purchased, the life of the linen depends on the care of linen in use and the treatment it gets at the laundry.
A good laundry facility ensures the following:
1. Careful handling of linen articles while laundering.
2. Correct processing and use of a suitable laundry agent.
3. While materials are kept white, excessive bleach is not used.
4. Proper counting and records maintained to avoid shortages of linen.
5. Speedy operations to meet with operational requirements.
6. Sound policies regarding damages or loss.
COMMERCIAL OR OFF-PREMISES LAUNDRY
A commercial or off-premises laundry refers to laundering activities performed outside the establishment i.e. given on a contract basis to specialists in the field. In a rare circumstance, the laundry is contracted and on-premises. An on-site or on-premises laundry, however, refers to laundering activities carried on within the establishment by staff employed by the hotel.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF AN ON-PREMISES LAUNDRY
• Time taken for laundering is reduced because transportation is eliminated.
• Linen is readily available especially in the case of emergency requirements.
• Control over the wash process and the laundry agents used making the wear and tear on linen comparatively much lesser.
• Pilferage is reduced.
• The ‘par’ stock required is reduced.
• Revenue is earned from guest laundry.
• Cost of equipment and its maintenance is fairly high.
• Related expenses like printing of forms, employee taxes, water taxes, energy costs and insurance are high.
• More staff that is technically qualified and adequate space is required.
• Must be justified by an adequate amount of linen.
PRINCIPLES OF LAUNDERING
1. Removal of dirt and stains from the linen articles
2. Restoring linen articles to their original appearance as far as possible.
FLOW PROCESS CHART FOR INDUSTRIAL LAUNDERING
1) COLLECTION & TRANSPORTATION
Collection of linen may be done in the Linen Room, if the laundry is off-site but is usually in the laundry itself, if the laundry is on-premises. During collection, all accessories that cannot be washed such as metal items; epaulettes, etc. should be removed at the time of collection. Certain linen items are collected separately. For example, kitchen uniforms or dusters are separately collected, as are butchery aprons and dusters, because they have a specific type of soil. Likewise, in a hospital, linen from the surgical ward would be collected separately. The linen is usually packaged in canvas bags lined with polyvinyl. Eyelets on the rim of the bag facilitate passing a nylon cord through, which can be tightened in order to shut the opening of the bag. In some cases elasticized net bags called ‘skips’ are used to collect linen. Carrying the linen in canvas bags or skips is one means of transportation. Trolleys are most popular for transportation and the collapsible wire cart can be used to transport clean as well as soiled linen. Whatever the type of trolley, the soiled linen should not hang over the edge of the trolley, as it looks unsightly. If planned at the construction stage, an in-built chute is used for transporting linen from the floor pantries. It is preferable to put linen into canvas bags before dropping it down the chute so that wear and tear is reduced. However, this is rarely done, so it must be ensured that the flooring at the base of the chute should be easy to clean. The best collection system will vary from one operation to another but the increase of soil must be eliminated in order to prevent incurring unnecessary expenses.
On arrival, linen must be dealt with as quickly as possible. There must be a separate section for guest laundry that is usually handled by the most experienced staff.
Processing linen for laundering as quickly as possible is necessary:
1. To ensure that linen items are available as and when required.
2. To avoid transfer of stains and prevent stains from becoming permanent.
3. So that it does not provide a breeding ground for bacteria and pests.
4. To prevent the formation of mildew on damp articles particularly bath linen.
5. To avoid the possibility of linen getting misplaced or lost.
In hospitals, the infection risk necessitates the need for using gloves when sorting out linen. Gloves may also be used when handling hotel linen. Sorting is carried out according to the type of fabric and item, colour as well as the degree and type of soil. Sorting is done to separate those articles that need dry cleaning from those that will go through the normal wash process. Those that need mending or stain removal will be separated so that they can be dealt with accordingly. Also, different articles take a different wash process in terms of temperature of water, type of laundering agent, length of wash cycle, whether hydro- extraction should be done and if so, the length of the hydro-extraction cycle.
It takes less effort to pre-sort linen than to post-sort washed linen which is 50% heavier in weight due to water retention. Post-sorting is often essential in healthcare processes.
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.
Is carried out to conform to the capacity of the washing machine.
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.
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 on the linen articles.
Is often done manually or with a certain degree of automation. Where handling is 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:
1. Removal of soil
2. Suspension of soil
3. Discharge of the soil from the machine to the drain
In the wash process, the following factors must be considered:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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 to the delicate linen.
4. Type and amount of detergent and when it will be dispensed in the wash cycle:
This is also a crucial factor that affects the quality of wash deciding which laundry agent should be used is dependent 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.
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:
1. Remove residue of laundry agents, which might show as patches on the linen after
ironing or irritate the skin.
2. Remove suspended dirt, which remains in the carry over liquor in the load at the
end of the wash.
3. Lower the temperature of the wash load by using a cold water rinse or alternatively
reducing the temperature of water in consecutive rinses. A running rinse with an open drain is more effective but a larger volume of water is utilized.
Is the removal of excess moisture through centrifugal action and is equivalent to wringing in handwashing.The absorbency of the fabric affects the length of the cycle (6 to 8 mins.) and the residue of moisture (10% to 30 %) Draining must precede hydro-extraction and hydro-extraction must precede tumbledrying. Some articles cannot be hydro-extracted so there is a pumping action to draw out the water from the linen load. Too short an extraction time will increase the
drying time and may hinder the proper operation of finishing equipment. The most efficient extraction for cottons takes place at temperatures higher than 38º C but lower than 55º C so that they are not too hot to handle. Polyesters and blends should be extracted at a temperature below 38º C to prevent wrinkling. The compact mass of hydro-extracted clothes is referred to as ‘cheese’.
Transferring washed linen from the hydro-extractor to the Tumble Dryer is a difficult task because of the added weight of moisture. Articles may be manually removed and put into trolleys. Tilting and dumping machines reduce the physical effort of manual unloading. A laundry cart can be positioned under the door and a push button operated to rotate the cylinder and empty its contents. Alternatively, the machine can unload onto a conveyor belt that will transport the linen to the next set of operations.
11) TUMBLE DRYING
This process is capable of rendering the linen completely dry by blowing hot air ranging between 40º C to 60º C onto the articles as they are slowly circulated in the rotating drum. For articles that are susceptible to damage by heat, there is the option of simply airing by circulating air at room temperature. To avoid wrinkles and the risk of spontaneous combustion, many dryers have a cool-down cycle at predetermined intervals. The process of tumble-drying creates a good deal of wear and tear on the fabric as particles of lint come off the fabric in the drying process. The time taken is approx. 30 mins. depending on whether the article is to be completely or partially dried.
For those articles that require a pressed finish, ironing and pressing are usual, but there are also other finishing equipment. Articles like blankets, towels, candlewick bedspreads, hosiery, etc. that do not require a pressed finish are only tumble-dried.
Can be done by machine but in most cases is carried out completely manually or at least the finishing folds are done manually. The use of a folding stand helps minimize this otherwise very labour-intensive operation. Manual folding makes it possible to achieve the desired fold as well as ensure quality control. Employees in this area are the one ones who ‘reject’ stained linen and are a good source for ascertaining what types and quantities of stains commonly occur. This is an important stage in the processing of laundered linen as it can be the ‘bottleneck’ in an otherwise efficient laundry operation. Correct folding is important to the appearance of the article and makes it convenient to store and use.
This is essential prior to storage, especially if the articles are to be stored in closed shelves. It ensures that any moisture that is likely to cause mildew will be got rid of.
Should be properly done in a well–designed storage space. Linen should be allowed a rest period to recuperate before it is used again. The life span of linen is greatly increased if proper rotation of stock is carried out, thereby ensuring a ‘rest period’ between uses. As a general rule, at any given time, approximately 50% of the total linen inventory should be on the shelves, 25% in use and 25% in processing. The storage area must be isolated from the soiled linen and kept clean
The linen is issued to the unit/department for use. Since transfer of clean linen is usually done by linen trolleys, it is important to keep the trolleys clean.
The linen is utilized for the necessary function intended and the cycle begins all over again.
A complete wash cycle is composed of various stages and the time taken is approx. 40 to 50 minutes. It has been proven that quick wash cycles using large volume of water broken down into the following sequence is most effective.
Flush › Suds › Bleach › Rinse › Sour & Soft › Extract
Additional Stages in the Wash Cycle:
These are essential where there is a specific type of soiled or the articles are heavily soiled:
Soak › Break › Carryover Suds (Intermediate Rinse) › Intermediate Extract › Starch (Sizing)
EQUIPMENTS USED IN LAUNDERY
1) WASHING MACHINE:
A washing machine, or washer, is a machine designed to clean laundry, such as clothing, towels and sheets. The term is mostly applied only to machines that use water as the primary cleaning solution, as opposed to dry cleaning (which uses alternative cleaning fluids, and is generally performed by specialist businesses) or even ultrasonic cleaners.
All washing machines work by using mechanical energy, thermal energy, and chemical action. Mechanical energy is imparted to the clothes load by the rotation of the agitator in top loaders, or by the tumbling action of the drum in front loaders. Thermal energy is
supplied by the temperature of the wash bath.
2) TUNNEL WASHERS:
These are also called batch washers or continuous washers and are in effect a series of inter-connected washers. Each ‘bath’ is in a different cylinder and the load moves from one cylinder to the next. Computerized systems automatically adjust the time, temperature and chemicals to be used, so that each batch receives the required treatment. Machines may be top transfer or bottom transfer. Tunnel washers have distinct advantages in that they are
timesaving, thereby reducing staff requirement. There are also significant energy and water savings. Tunnel washers can also be hooked up to an extractor and subsequently with conveyors to the dryer.
3) TUMBLE DRYER
Dryers are machines that dry laundry by tumbling it slowly in a perforated drum exposed to hot air ranging from 40ºC to 60ºC in low capacity dryers and going right upto 85ºC in an industrial dryer. There are programmes for delicate articles with low or no heat. Dryers may operate on gas, electricity or steam. For speedy drying and less wrinkling the volume of the dryer should be 25% more than the washer-extractor. Most dryers have a microprocessor computer control system. Although suitable drying times are usually recommended for
specific fabrics, some dryers have sensors hooked onto their microprocessors so that they can gauge the moisture in the load and cut the dryer off automatically the moment the laundry is dry. A lint screen traps the lint particles and must be cleaned regularly. The
length of the drying cycle is dependent on the absorbency of the fabric and the residual moisture. Modern dryers are equipped with high tech features such as signal lights, self-cleaning lint screens, reverse cylinder drums as well as energy-saving devices like extra insulation and heat reclaimers.
4) FINISHING EQUIPMENTS
For those articles that require a pressed finish there are many finishing equipment. Some of the more frequently used equipment are listed below:
A) Flatwork Ironer / Roller Iron / Calendar: Is used for flatwork i.e. items like sheets, pillowcases, tablecloths, serviettes, aprons, sarees, etc. The items are passed through heated rollers for ironing.
B) Press: Press is used for fine pressing of Flat Linen like Table covers, Pillow covers, Napkins, Kitchen linen, Staff uniforms. They are special presses to perform specific functions and operation can be on electricity or steam.
5) Puffer or Suzie:
For coats and articles that do not crease heavily. The articles are put onto a dummy that is inflated with steam to remove creases and then with hot air to remove the moisture created by the steam.
6) Tunnel Dryer:
Clothes are hung on conveyor belts that pass through a tunnel. Hot air blowing in the tunnel, renders the articles completely dry by the time they exit. It is a fully automated process that also transfers the linen to the next area of activity.
7) Cabinet Dryer or Drying Room:
Is a chamber where low-crease garments are suspended on hangers and steam or hot air is circulated through the cabinet.
LAYOUT OF A LAUNDRY
When planning the layout of a laundry, consider the work flow and wherever possible ensure that the plan does not hinder the smooth flow of operations. To reduce turnaround time between loads, ease of loading and unloading, equipments must be arranged
properly, taking into account ease of each operation.
When positioning laundry equipment, the following must be considered:
1. Entrances and exits
2. Support columns and beams
3. Space between adjacent machines and adequate space between the back of the machine and the wall which is essential to facilitate servicing and repair.
4. Power points for electrical supply and the required voltage (gas and steam may also be used)
5. Water supply at the rate of about 10 gallons per Kg of linen approx.
6. Preventing the occurrence of ‘water hammer’ from hotwater supply water heating is through solar energy.
7. Water softening
8. To removal of iron, manganese and sulphur to eliminate staining and enhance action of the detergents
9. Installation of proper drainage system
10. Installation of drain to control discharge rate
11. A separate section to deal with guest laundry / valet service.
12. Local code for restrictions / permit requirements.
13. Energy and water conservation and safety factors consideration
14. Selection of equipment to suit the premises and projections.
15. Area must accommodate the total number of staff working at the busiest times
As technology strives to automate every face of hotel operations, computerized laundry systems are getting popular.
Water by itself is ineffective as a cleaning agent, due to a phenomenon known as ‘surface tension’. It although removes water-soluble dirt, it has little effect on oils and grease. Addition of a detergent allows the water to penetrate, wetting the garment thoroughly so that soil is more accessible and its easy removal.
Classification of detergents:
a) Synthetic / active detergent
b) Built-soap detergent
c) Enzyme-action detergent.
2) SUSPENDING AGENT
The role of the suspending agent in cleaning is to hold the dirt in suspension and prevent it from redepositing onto the surface of the clothing. The suspending agent is carboxyl methyl cellulose.
3) SEQUESTERING AGENT
These act along with the suspending agents to hold dirt in suspension. They assist by holding a greater amount of dirt in suspension thereby reducing the likelihood of redeposition. They also have the additional ability to dissolve lime salts that are
responsible for temporary hardness in water. Sodium polyphosphates are used as sequestering agents.
4) PH SCALE FOR LAUNDRY AGENTS
This is a scale used to determine the pH of sud in the washing so that it may be possible to adjust the pH of the sud with the use of chemicals to maximize cleaning efficiency.
5) OTHER LAUNDERING AGENTS
a) Alkali: Alkalis used in the wash process include: Washing soda,Sodium phosphate, Sodium hydroxide, Sodium metasilicate etc. The role of the alkali in the wash process:
b) Bleaches: These are used on white articles only. They remove colouring matter by their oxidizing or reducing action. If not in liquid form, they should be dissolved in hot water andadded. The bleaches commonly used in the laundry process are sodium perborate and sodium hypochlorite.
c) Antichlors: These are agents used to neutralize the residual chlorine in the bleach, particularly in the case of polyesters. The use of chlorinated bleaches has a tendency to leave yellow deposits on the clothing.
d) Sour: This is used only in industrial laundering in the final rinse, to neutralize any alkaline soap residues that may be present. It brings the pH to the acidic range between 5 and 6.5, which is agreeable to the human skin and also gets rid of yellow or brown hue caused by alkali residue. Acetic acid is used as the sour. In case where there is a high iron content in the water, Oxalic acid is used to get rid of the reddish, iron deposits. If starch is being used, sour should be added only two minutes before the starch to achieve a pH of 5.0 to a sizing agent is being used, the ideal pH is 7.0 to 8.0, so sour is generally not used.
e) Optical Brightener / Whitener: This is an optical brightener / whitener, which is in fact a very fine blue coloured liquid dye, which gets bleached in the course of time. It has a
fluorescent effect by reflecting the UV rays of the sun. The laundry blue in a powder form is undesirable since it tends to accumulate in the weave of the fabric and causes it to turn grey.
f) Starch: This is a stiffening agent used to impart a better crease and appearance to the fabric. The use of starch has declined due to the minimum-iron finishes on fabrics and
garments and the reduced use of cotton in favour of manmade fibres. However there are some articles that have a better feel and drape when starched and it is particularly
essential for napkin folds. Since polyesters do not have the ability to absorb starch they are stiffened with sizing agents.
g) Fabric Conditioner and their Role in Laundering: A fabric conditioner or softener has surface active agents like a detergent but they do not perform the function of cleaning. Fabric conditioners are based on cationic surface-active agents, carrying a positive charge and creates anti-static properties. A fabric conditioner is never used on loads where starch or sizing will be used.
This is a process by which textiles are cleaned using a solvent other than water. This solvent is usually an organic liquid that acts first to remove the layer of grease which bonds most grease particles to the surface and then to carry this dirt away. The solvents
commonly used are:
The solvent after dry cleaning is removed first by centrifugal action followed by evaporation. The solvent being expensive is filtered off and recycled. Darker coloured articles are dry-cleaned after the lighter coloured ones. All articles require to be aired after the dry-cleaning process. Where Per-chloro-ethylene is not suitable, a system called Aquatex (from Iowa Techniques) is used. It involves the use of bio-degradable chemicals and 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 operations, computerized laundry systems have been in use since the mid-eighties. Some hotels are experimenting with Windows based laundry software and ozone washing. G.A. Braun has developed a cutting edge, interactive PC video-conferencing product called Serview that enables qualified technicians to provide customer and support service through contemporary two-way high speed audio and video conferencing. Ozone is a powerful oxidizer and ozone washing is an energy efficient system that can cut laundry costs by 50%. Ozone washing became popular in the US in the mid-eighties. It is carried out by mass injecting ozone into the laundry system via the cold water lines. The resulting ozonated water facilitates the breakdown of insoluble dirts leading to a whole host of benefits. Ozone washing, the brainchild of GuestCare Inc., cuts detergent use by 60%. It reduces the need for hot water and can cut energy costs by 80%. Little hot water, reduced chemicals and shorter wash cycles greatly extends the life of linen.
Among the many amenities provided by a hotel, one of them is laundry service for the guest. It is an amenity which is essential in resort hotels where guests are long-staying and prefer to travel light. Even if a full-fledged laundry service is not available, at least some
facility for ironing is required as clothes get crumpled in packing. It is a source of revenue in hotels and may serve as a means of preventing the guests from washing clothes and hanging them out to dry in hotel guest rooms. Laundry service, including dry cleaning may be normal (ordinary) or urgent (express). The time gap between the collection and delivery is dependent on whether the laundry is on-premises or off-premises.
The following are the steps involved in laundry:
Step 1: Sort the dirty clothes, into separate piles for whites, bright colors and darks. If whites are mixed with colors in the wash, the colors may bleed onto and ruin whites. Also
separate clothes that tend to produce lint (towels, sweatshirts, chenille and flannel) from clothes that tend to attract lint (corduroy, velvets and permanent-press clothes).
Step 2: Close zippers to prevent snagging, and empty pockets.
Step 3: Pre-treat heavy stains with laundry detergent or stain remover, heeding instructions on the product label.
Step 4: Measure out the right amount of laundry soap according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Step 5: Pour the soap into your washer or its detergent dispenser. Add liquid fabric softener, according to product instructions.
Step 6: Choose the water temperature for the wash cycle: hot, warm or cold; use cold rinse cycle for any load. Consult the labels on clothes, washing machine's instruction manual or the detergent container for recommendations on washing temperature.
Step 7: Start the washer, add and allow the detergent to dissolve in the water before adding clothes. Adjust the water level to the size of load.
Step 8: If needed to add bleach, allow the machine to run for a few minutes to mix the detergent and water, and then add about a cup of bleach to the washer or the bleach
Step 9: Add the clothes, close the lid and let the machine run. Washing takes approximately 45 minutes.
Step 10: Put the clothes (and an anti-static sheet, if desired) in the dryer after the wash is complete. Hang delicates (such as bras and certain sweaters) to air dry on a clothing rack or hanger.
Step 11: Remove lint from the dryer's lint tray.
Step 12: Select the correct drying temperature for the laundry load: low for delicate, medium for most fabrics and high for cotton. When in doubt, low or medium is the safest bet.
Step 13: Close and turn on the dryer. Expect the drying cycle to take an hour or more for a full load.
Step 14: Once the clothes are completely dry, remove them from the dryer or drying rack and fold and store.