My hotel has upgraded its guest-room linens and bedding package, as well as its restaurant linens. It’s made a sizable investment, so the pressure’s on to clean, handle and store these goods carefully for the longest useful life possible. What advice can you give me?
HOTEL/MOTEL LAUNDERING: Neil MacDonald has managed the laundry at the Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club in Lihue, Hawaii, 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.
The pressure is on, yes, but don’t put all the pressure on yourself. Everyone should share the pressure, or, from a more positive perspective, the responsibility. You need to put the squeeze on the other teams that also handle these products. The weight of the situation starts from the top.
The responsibility is the director of finance’s. Remind him or her not to forget to budget for the replacement of these expensive items, and don’t forget next year’s budget, too! Your replacement costs for the new bedding may go up 100%. I’d advise you to add an extra par or two to your circulating inventory, and you’ll lengthen the life of your linen. You may want to look into ozone if you don’t have this system. Cold-water washing will help extend the life of your new bedding products.
The responsibility is the director of housekeeping’s to ensure that proper handling systems are in place. Keep items off of the floor! Keep your linen closets neat and clean.
The responsibility is the food-and-beverage director’s, too! Use clear plastic bags so you can see what’s inside when collecting linen and trash. Move the soiled-linen hamper away from the dishwashing area. Shake out all the F&B linen before bagging and sending it to the laundry. Avoid napkin rollups, as they shorten the life of table linen. Forks and knives rolled up in a napkin create holes in the napkin that the ironer is often blamed for.
The responsibility is the linen vendor’s. It has to maintain an adequate stock for your needs. New bedding products are in great demand nowadays. You may need to allow more time for your goods to arrive — a good reason to increase your circulating pars. You may need a customs broker if your products are coming from overseas.
My advice is to make it a team effort. And it never hurts to walk around your facility and experience what’s happening with your textiles.
TEXTILES: Kevin Keyes is the Laundry Service Team (LST) leader for Milliken and 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.
The first step in getting the longest useful life out of your textiles is gaining an understanding of what your products are made of. Different fabrics need to be treated differently, especially during washing. For example, cotton fabrics need to be handled in a different manner than polyester.
During the wash process, fabrics are subjected to a variety of chemicals and mechanical action to get them clean. With any fabric, you want to be able to utilize a formula that does the job with the least amount of wear and tear.
Proper amounts of chemistry, mechanical action, time and temperature (the classic wash pie) are needed to clean any fabric. Knowing how textiles react to these different factors will help you extend their life.
Cotton fabrics are alkali-friendly but don’t like bleach. On the other hand, polyester fabrics can easily take bleach but don’t do well in a high-alkali environment. This brings me to another point about bleach. Bleach and colors don’t go together! Polyester fabric may be able to handle the bleach, but the color can’t. Cotton just doesn’t like bleach – period. You want to use as little bleach as possible to get the job done. Also, rinse fabric thoroughly to ensure there are no residual chemicals left.
After the goods are dried/ironed/folded, wrap them in some type of protective wrapping. During transportation, the textiles are exposed to any number of things, like sharp edges, that can reduce the life of the product. A good wrapping will also prevent possible dirt and stains from getting on the product if it’s dropped. If the goods get dirty during transportation, they have to be washed again, which reduces product life.
Finally, preventing abuse by the end user will prolong linen life. Sort soiled goods separately and avoid mixing them with items that could cause further damage. Also, store the goods in a clean, dry place when not in use.
Using these guidelines will allow you to achieve the longest useful life out of your linen investment.