What Happens in a Commercial Laundry Facility?
If you’ve ever wondered what goes on inside a commercial laundry facility, rest assured it’s nothing like how you wash your laundry at home. The processes and equipment commercial laundry facilities utilize are both designed to get items absolutely clean while maximizing their lifespan. It is a delicate balance that requires considerable knowledge, a commensurate level of skill, and a lot of hard work.
Linen providers like Alsco, the Utah-based company that pioneered uniform rental in the late 1800s, are continually looking at their processes to see how things can be improved. They look at their equipment. They look at the cleaning solutions and water they use. They evaluate manual processes to see if automation is possible.
So what goes on inside the typical commercial laundry facility? That depends on the types of products a company offers. Let’s look at a general linen provider that offers table linens, bed linens, uniforms, and floor mats.
Table linens include things like table cloths and napkins. These sorts of items are generally laundered in a commercial washing machine/extractor using both detergents and enzymes to break up stains. Loads are generally separated by color and processed at varying temperatures depending on the fabric, dye, and level of soil.
Table linens are taken directly from the washer to either a dryer or flat iron. When they are put into the dryer, it’s generally only for a couple of minutes to untangle. They are then sent to an iron that presses them flat and folds them automatically. Clean and folded table linens come out the other end ready for packaging.
Bed linens are the sheets and pillowcases utilized by healthcare facilities and hotels. They follow the same general process as table linens with one big exception: they undergo additional laundering that makes them hygienically clean. This is important for obvious reasons.
Following the laundering process, bed linens must be put through a flat iron and folder. They are then packaged and ready to be sent out again.
Sometimes table and bed linens are also washed with towels. Table linens might be washed with restaurant towels and bar mops while bed linens might be laundered with bath towels, wash cloths, and medical towels. None of the towels has to be put through a flat iron for finishing. They are dried in a commercial dryer and then hand folded prior to packaging.
Modern commercial linen operations put uniforms through a specially designed cleaner that utilizes steam and purpose-designed detergents to get them clean. Uniforms are hung either on hooks or hangers and then placed on a conveyor line that runs them through the machine. They come out the other end clean and pressed. Then they are bagged and prepared for the next delivery.
Of all the items processed in a commercial laundry, floor mats are perhaps the easiest to address. They are placed in a commercial washer/extractor where they are cleaned with hot water and a special cleaning solution. Then they are dried in a commercial dryer and rolled in preparation for being sent back out.
In rare occasions where a mat is stained, it may have to be pre-treated. But the cleaning solutions and enzymes linen providers use these days are pretty good at breaking up most of the dirt and grime floor mats pick up.
Automation is making the modern linen operation a lot more efficient than it used to be. As such, all the processes you read about here can be automated to some degree. And now you know what happens inside the typical commercial laundry facility.