“How can we tell if we’re getting our money’s worth from the textiles we’re using? What are the characteristics of a high-quality textile after it has been processed a dozen times, 50 times, or more? And can item type — flatwork or garment — actually influence textile durability?”
Healthcare Laundry — Dianna Aracich, Wheeling Hospital, Wheeling, W.Va.
It won’t take a dozen washings to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth from the linen you purchased. I don’t believe I’ve seen a bath blanket, towel or washcloth stay in the system long enough to be laundered 50 times. However, quality linen is a must in healthcare no matter how long you get to keep it.
Items such as these will reveal their quality after the first processing by their shrinkage, graying, pilling, and loose threads. Although towels and washcloths are recycled here, they should not look like a rag after the first washing.
Garment items such as gowns, pajamas and scrubs may take a couple of processing rounds but, in general, will have issues such as fading, rolled elastic, shrinkage, frayed strings, or bunching after the first processing.
The type of item and how it is processed definitely influences the durability. Items such as sheets and pillowcases that are run through a flatwork ironer take the most abuse. The heat, roll pressure and contact with the chest are all damaging to the cotton in these items.
[NP][/NP]Although some facilities process their bath blankets this way for production purposes, it’s not good for the blanket’s durability due to the cotton content. It also removes the “fluffy” quality that our patients like.
The best way to ensure you always get the quality you expect, which depends mainly on your expectations of the products you buy, is to have a good relationship with a reputable vendor.
They will stand behind any quality issues you may encounter, and the linen quality you receive will be the same month to month because they are looking forward to next month’s order.
I don’t believe in “cherry picking.” By this, I mean going from vendor to vendor for the “deal of the day.” These items are usually of lower quality and rarely the same twice.
The old adages that “You get what you pay for” and “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is” apply to linen management, too.
Hotel/Motel/Resort Laundry — Charles Loelius, The Pierre New York, New York, N.Y.
The notion of getting our money’s worth from our textiles is a matter of perspective. Is luxury more important than longevity?
[NP][/NP]The hotel “Bed Wars” began in 1999 when Westin Hotels and Resorts introduced the “Heavenly Bed.” This event sparked the remarkable evolution of hotel beds and bedding from just sheets and bedspreads to the super-premium “sleep experiences” of today.
One casualty was the T-200 cotton percale sheet. Once the standard for luxury hotels, percale sheets have been replaced by 300-thread-count, and higher, cotton sateen sheets.
From an operational point of view, the change from the T-200 percale sheet was problematic. The cotton percale, a closely woven fabric with many interlacings, is inexpensive and durable. The weave provides a crisp feel. The sateen weave, on the other hand, is characterized by long, floating yarns that produce a high luster on one side of the fabric. There are fewer interlacings, which make higher thread counts possible.
These factors contribute to the soft hand of the sateen sheet, but also contribute to lack of durability. Fewer interlacings give sateen weave fabric poor abrasion resistance, as well as increase snagging, picking and raveling potential. After several washings, the sateen sheet will lose its luster due to expansion of the yarn. Ironing the fabric will flatten the yarn and restore much of the luster.
Unfortunately, thread count has become the barometer that marketing people use to create interest and impress with numbers. Thread count is just one metric in determining quality sheeting. Many factors contribute to quality, including fiber quality, yarn size, finishing (such as mercerizing), and construction.
The problem with mass-produced, high-thread-count sheets is, that in order to keep prices competitive, other metrics of quality are compromised.
The fact of the matter is, in quality sheeting, the incremental comfort level of thread counts higher than 300 is minimal. A well-constructed 300-thread-count sheet will have as soft a hand, cost less, and last longer than a poorly constructed 1,000-thread-count sheet.
The laundering process is especially important in the customer’s perception of quality. A 300-thread-count sheet that is laundered and pressed well can feel far superior to a 1,000-thread-count sheet that is processed poorly.
From a marketing standpoint, this transition from longevity to luxury has been a rousing success. The luxury bedding has provided hotels with additional branding opportunities, with many 4- and 5-star hotels operating their own retail websites.
Equipment/Supplies Distribution — Donnie Weiland, Tingue, Brown & Co., Alvin, Texas
Concerning marriage, an old man once told me, “When I first got married, I loved my wife so much, I thought I could just ‘eat her up.’ Years later, I wished I had!”
[NP][/NP]How many times have you had visions of grandeur while reasoning why you need the best textiles on the market, only to find later that you have some regrets?
When it comes down to it, this whole subject pertains to money! One has to consider the cost of anything — including textiles — to ascertain the “value” involved. Will this selection be the best value for my dollar when considering the price vs. longevity?
Factors involved, of necessity, have to include knowing who’s going to be using the textile, how they will be using it, what is the environment for usage and, finally, what is the delivery time on a replacement-textile order.
Helpful information, such as the probable number of washes, the types of chemicals needed, environmental concerns and durability, can be revealed by the textile vendor.
In so many rental cases, the linen can be damaged due to stains or tears and can never reach its useful textile life.
For this situation, determining the replacement cost is either done by the “swag method” (you’ll have to look that one up yourself) or, in a lesser percentage of laundries, by mathematics. And, let’s face it, this “replacement cost” is used to enhance the bottom line. That’s the real world!