Because of the amount of lint that a laundry generates, how often should my laundry be blown off, and to what degree? Do you recommend having a formal policy that describes exactly what is to be done and when? What benefits can I reap from a lint-removal program?
HOTEL/MOTEL LAUNDERING: Neil MacDonald has managed the laundry at the Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club since the property opened in 1995. His other experience includes managing laundries at the Ihilani Resort & Spa on Oahu, the Westin Century Plaza Hotel and the Westin Kauai Resort.
Have you ever been in a laundry and seen fingers of lint dangling from the ceiling? That’s poor maintenance.
And if lint is hanging from the ceiling, you know it’s piling up under the ironer, causing a potential fire hazard.
As a laundry manager, it’s your responsibility to provide a safe and healthy working environment. Blowing lint from your machines will keep your operation clean and safe.
I recommend that each piece of equipment get blown off at least once a week, top to bottom, over and under. It’s the responsibility of the maintenance department or your maintenance man to oversee this procedure.
Some pieces of equipment may require daily service: towel folders, ironers and cross-folders, for example. They’re utilized the most throughout the day.
Periodically remove equipment panels and clean the lint from the inside, especially in dryers. Lint will collect in and around the cracks, crannies and blowers of dryers very quickly.
Cover your clean carts before you begin the blow-off process, which will prevent the lint from settling on the clean goods. A good time to do this procedure is when the laundry operation is shut down.
Blowing lint around may seem useless as a small percentage of lint settles back on the machines, but the majority of lint ends up on the floor where it’s easily swept or vacuumed up.
Blowing lint from machines is easy, quick, and a good habit to get into to keep lint from building up in your facility.
Wiping equipment with a damp cloth is another way to remove lint, especially on your small machines like 50- to 125-pound washers. Make it part of your equipment operators’ duty to wipe down the machines at the end of the shift or when the machines are idle.
I believe written standard operating procedures are necessary, especially if your maintenance people rotate or if you’re running seven days a week. The engineer who rotates into the laundry should have instructions to refer to.
I recommend recording the procedure on a daily checklist, which should include a section for notes or comments. List all of your equipment and the date the procedure was done and have the engineer sign it.
The benefits of a lint-free environment are a clean-looking facility, elimination of potential fire hazards, and longer-lasting, better-running machines.
HEALTHCARE LAUNDERING: Earl Carter is the director of central laundry for FirstHealth of the Carolinas, serving five hospitals, four outpatient surgery centers, two health and fitness centers, and 12 family care centers. His career began in 1972 as a route operator for National Linen Service.
Your maintenance man or plant engineer walks into your office and informs you that your large-piece folder will be down for the rest of the day. He’s ordered a photo sensor to be delivered “next-day air” for the third cross-fold on the folder, he says.
He explains there was an error message on the display stating, “Sensor failed/misaligned 3rd cross-fold, shut down before clearing.”
He checked under the folder and couldn’t find anything blocking the sensor, but the red LED stayed on so it had to be a bad sensor.
The sensor arrives the next day and your maintenance person starts replacing the old sensor. But once he touches the sensor, a piece of lint falls off and the red LED light goes out.
What’s the deal?
This is an everyday occurrence throughout the industry, causing a loss of productivity within the laundry, shortage of linen for our customers and ulcers for the supervisors and/or managers.
Had the folder been blown out the evening or morning before starting up, this event probably would not have happened.
With the advancement of photo sensors replacing a lot of tasks that were once performed manually, they have to work at optimum performance. For them to function this way, you must have a lint-removal program.
It should be a two-part program/policy in writing. The first part deals with removing lint and debris daily from equipment, the second with complete lint removal from the facility.
Some managers have asked how often their facilities should be blown down. Without observing their operation and seeing how much lint they generate, I can’t answer that.
I remind them that lint is just like a fuse on an explosive device – one spark and the whole place goes up in smoke.
We run our ironers at 280 to 315 F on average, and our gas-fired dryer’s inlet temperature is 425 degrees. Operating at these temperatures without a lint-removal program is asking for trouble.
When developing a program or policy for lint removal, daily observation will tell you a lot. But the manufacturers’ manuals will give you the best ideas as to how to remove lint and how often.
It’s a good idea to have your local fire marshal and your organization’s safety officer involved in developing your lint-removal program or policy.
The fire marshal will have different ideas about program criteria. Their involvement also serves to foster a good working relationship between the fire department and your facility.
Your program will reap a side benefit, and that’s better morale among your staff members. Everyone wants to work in a clean environment. By concentrating on removing lint from your operation on a daily basis, your employees will be thankful.