Businesses and organisations with a laundry facility must ensure high levels of health and safety. Dave Howell assesses how laundry facilities have evolved and how environment and facilities managers can take advantage of the latest technology.

As no two sectors are the same, laundry facilities are often bespoke installations. Machine developers have over several years evolved their ranges to meet the needs of their customers. For environment and facilities managers, this has meant a wider machine choice, and service providers that can be tailored to their precise needs.

One area of major concern for environment managers working in the health sector is reducing and preventing the transmission of infection when working with laundry. Having a laundry management system in place that tracks the journey of soiled linens from the user, through the cleaning process and the return to housekeeping, requires a number of steps that must be well-defined to ensure infections are kept to a minimum.

In addition, environment managers are also acutely aware of the potential pollutants that can result in the laundry services they are using. The use of solvents across this sector has come under the spotlight over recent years.

Environmentally friendly facilities

The drive to install more environmentally friendly facilities has continued, with laundry services increasingly looking for less harmful chemicals to remove stains from a wide range of textiles. The use of EU Ecolabel for laundry services and products is increasingly becoming a differentiator when environment managers are choosing services for their businesses or organisations.

Indeed, laundry machine developers are paying attention to the renewed environmental sensitivity across their industry. A good example is news from Xeros Technologies (the developers of polymer cleaning) that they have developed XFiltra, a new technology that removes microfibres from home laundry waste water. With over half of textiles washed containing synthetic fibres, the new filtration system could be a major step forward in reducing the number of microplastics that reach the oceans.

The XFiltra includes an integrated pump, filter and dewatering device. Unfiltered water enters the XFiltra where the microfibres are trapped and are spun dry into a solid disk for easy removal. When the XFiltra is ready for cleaning operators just remove the dry microfibre disk which can then be deposited in the established recycling chain. Environment managers should expect to see this technology and many like it appearing in the commercial sector very soon.

Last year, the company also gave details of its Symphony Project aimed at improving the sustainability of the commercial laundry industry. For example, it is estimated that hotels around the world with on-premise laundries (OPLs) annually use 57 billion gallons of water to process the laundry generated from guest rooms.

Commenting, Jonathan Benjamin, Global President of Xeros Cleaning Technologies said: “The Symphony Project enables the laundry industry to join a broader conversation about sustainability in an open, collaborative way and take great strides beyond what we are currently doing. The invitation to participate in the entire industry from washing machine brands to laundry room operators, to water and energy suppliers, to others.”

Cleaning and delivery

For environment managers with OPL facilities, the need to reduce energy and consumption are twin pressures that are constant across the industry. Using well-understood technologies such as tunnel washers will continue, as they have constantly evolved.

Many environment managers are also looking closely at how their OPL facilities could be improved. The established hybrid approach where some laundry services are outsourced is being brought in-house.

With the development of more advanced wet cleaning ready machines such as Girbau’s Agua Smart, some facilities, especially across the healthcare sector, could bring some or all of their outsourced laundry on site, as these machines can offer a dry clean-like high-quality finish to what could be fragile textiles.

The laundry services that environment managers have responsibility for are often highly specialised. Managers should always seek the best of breed when specifying machines. In addition, the long-term health of their installations requires regular maintenance. And with environmental pollution high on the agenda of many businesses and organisations, switching to reduced water machines and using environmentally friendly detergents are easy wins.

Your checklist

Environment managers with on-site laundry facilities should always:

Use maintenance cycles on each machine

Machines that are run daily will need a full maintenance schedule. This avoids the build-up of debris, which can adversely affect the operation of a machine. Always follow the machine manufacturer’s cleaning guidelines.

Operate machines within stated parameters

It can be tempting to overload machines to reduce the number of loads run in each cycle. This should be avoided, as this can cause damage to the machine. In addition, overloading a machine will mean the wash is less efficient. This could be important from a hygiene perspective for some environment managers. Pay special attention to temperature.

Choose solvent with care

The choice of detergent and solvents for stain removal is now wide. Match the detergent to the machine in use. There is also a range of products that have less of a polluting impact on the environment.

Fully comply with regulations

Environment managers need to ensure their laundry services fully comply with the Water Supply Regulations 1999. In addition, complying with the guidance contained within Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) although not a statutory requirement can ensure machines are installed and operate to a high level of quality.

Last reviewed 18 December 2018