What measures can a laundry manager take to reduce the percentage of stain rewash found in their operation? How can they differentiate stains from soils? What do you consider an acceptable reject/rewash rate to be?
EQUIPMENT DISTRIBUTION: Curtis McDowell is the general manager and head of OPL sales for Laundry City Equipment, a distributor of commercial and industrial laundry equipment. He has more than 17 years of industry experience, including service and sales.
No matter if it’s hospitality or healthcare, the first line of defense in reducing the amount of stain rewash in your laundry operation is the shake-out (initial inspection) and sorting of your product.
In healthcare, it’s the nurse’s aides who are primarily responsible for removing the soiled bed linen and collecting it for processing. Many times this soiled linen doesn’t receive the preliminary shake-out that is required to remove the waste from heavy bowel movements. Instead, it’s simply collected and sent down to the laundry for processing.
The soils have plenty of time to set and stain the fabric. To reduce stain rewash, it’s imperative that the nurse’s aides be trained and monitored on a regular basis to remove the waste products before sending the linen to the laundry.
The hospitality industry’s stain rewash is usually a combination of food-and-beverage linen that hasn’t been shaken out and terry that has been used to remove makeup or to polish shoes. I’ve personally seen cups of coffee and glasses of wine bundled up off the table with the linen and sent to the laundry. Oils from greasy foods are also prevalent with F&B.
As with healthcare, management should take the necessary steps to ensure that the correct inspection and sorting procedures are being followed.
The next step is to provide the proper temperatures and chemicals to address the different types of soils. Laundry managers should work closely with their chemical representatives to be sure their wash formulas are set up to handle the variety of soils on their linen. They should also monitor their water heaters on a daily basis to ensure they are generating the proper temperatures.
The initial inspection of the soiled product and the correct combination of chemicals and temperature should greatly reduce the amount of stain rewash. Any product that doesn’t come clean after the primary wash formula should be processed through an effective reclaim wash formula and not reprocessed through the original wash formula.
Before laundering, it’s virtually impossible to differentiate between soils and stains during inspection, sorting and processing. A close inspection after the wash portion will show you what soils have set in.
An acceptable reject-to-rewash ratio in the healthcare industry has typically been 2-3% of the total pounds produced. This ratio can vary in the hospitality industry, depending on if the facility has F&B linen. A level of 2-6% could be acceptable.
TEXTILES: Kevin Keyes is the Laundry Service Team (LST) leader for Milliken & Co.'s Napery Fabrics Business. His team provides technical and marketing support to the textile rental industry. He's been with Milliken for 18 years, having served the first 11 in textile manufacturing.
There are a number of things a laundry manager can do to reduce the percentage of stain rewash in their operation.
One of the first things to look at is proper loading and sorting of the fabric before washing. The next critical step is the wash formulas.
Whenever I am called into a laundry that’s having staining issues, wash formulas are the first place I look. The formula should be adequate for the amount of soil in the goods. For example, bar towels and aprons will require a stronger wash formula than uniforms.
Wash formulas should also be watched and titrated to make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to do. I often find that what the formula sheet states and what the machine is doing don’t always match.
Titrations will help ensure that chemistry in the proper parts per million (ppm) is being achieved and is not more or less than what is required.
The typical linen wash formula should have a flush step to remove any large amounts of soil on the fabric surface. This should be followed by a break and carryover, constituting the main steps during which the soil/stains are removed from the fabric. For polyester, surfactants work best to clean the fabric.
Bleaching is also an important step when it comes to whites. Antichlor and sour are also important steps. Finally, make sure you have enough rinses to get all of the residual chemistry out of the fabric. Your chemical company representative should be familiar with all of these steps and what should work best.
A proper reject procedure also needs to be in place. For table linen, ironer rewash should be separated from stains. All too often, the same stain goes around and around because it’s simply put back into a normal wash.
Stains should go through a special stain formula. If a normal wash formula didn’t remove the stain the first time, it usually won’t magically get it out the second time.
Also, these goods should be watched closely. If the stain formula doesn’t work, you should cull the goods from the system.
An acceptable reject/rewash rate for table linen should be between 2-4%. I’m often surprised that many laundries don’t know what their reject level is. What happens all too often is that laundries squeeze their chemical companies to reduce chemical costs. The result is that the reject/rewash rate goes up and ends up costing more money in the long run.
My company’s table linen fabrics have a proprietary soil-release finish that helps with the removal of stains right from the start. A good way to reduce the amount of stain rewash in your operation is to start with a superior product.