CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq — Laundry is a chore people do every day throughout the world. Some people are particular about the way they wash their own clothes, but there is one group of people here who are particular about how they wash other people’s clothes.
The Central Laundry Facility on Camp Liberty processes approximately 7,000 bags of laundry a day from camps throughout the Baghdad area, including Liberty, Victory, Cropper, Slayer, Striker and the Radwaniyah Palace Complex.
“It’s about 7,000 a day, but sometimes it’s as much as 8,000,” says John Keys, KBR director of services in Baghdad, a native of Madison, Miss. “We have to be prepared for unexplained surges (of laundry) — we have to be ready at any time.”
To be prepared, the facility keeps to a strict procedure to promote efficiency and organization.
“We have so many bags,” says Sabina Sejdinovic, KBR regional laundry manager for Baghdad, a Tuzla, Bosnia native, “but we have the paperwork so we can find them. We’ve never lost a bag in the six years I’ve been here.”
The facility does its part for water conservation by using a recycling system. The system recycles about 60,000 gallons of water a day, according to Keys, who stressed that his customers can help, too.
“Since we wash all the clothes individually, if a pair of socks come in, we wash them by themselves,” he says. “Fill up your bag.”
Twenty-eight items is the maximum, though.
After being washed and dried, the clothes are then folded by bag. Only one bag is allowed on the table at a time so clothes don’t get mixed together.
All clothes are washed in cold water, with a mild, allergy-free detergent, but a few clothes require hot water. For this, the facility has industrial washers and dryers for medical laundry; detainees’ laundry; Morale, Welfare and Recreation towels; extremely soiled clothing; and blankets.
Keys has two suggestions for servicemembers and civilians dropping off their laundry — separate whites and colors, and check your pockets.
Sejdinovic says approximately 1,000 items — such as money, identification cards, thumb drives, cell phones, MP3 players and knives — are found per month. They’ve even found a keyboard.
Employees check pockets before they wash the clothes so they can log the items and to whom they belong. The items are placed in a container that the Criminal Investigation Division checks.
“Folks here are very aware of what they have to do (with items they find) and what they are looking for,” says Keys.
While getting the laundry clean and making sure lost items find their way back to their owners is important, Sejdinovic is more concerned with customer satisfaction.
“We don’t want to have any complaints,” she says. “We just want our customers to be happy.”