Lowering linen replacement costs can be relatively easy in partnership with the right commercial laundry vendor. Here at Wash Cycle Laundry, we like to think of how to reduce linen inventory costs in three buckets -- things you can do inside the washing machine, things you can do inside the laundry, and things you can do in the hotel. This is the second post in a three-part series, and will deal with the things you can do inside the laundry but outside the washing machine.
Once sheets leave the washing machine, there are a number of other elements about processing laundry that impact linen life and replacement costs. Here are some of the big things to check on regularly:
- Make sure your laundry has a detailed "reclaim" process. Even though it would be nice, there are good reasons why you don't want your first wash to take out every single stain in a load. Your laundry should have detailed procedures to place stained laundry through a second "reclaim" wash with more aggressive chemistry that can handle stubborn stains.
- Analyze and count the stains that your reclaim process isn't handling correctly. While no wash formula will solve every stain, in our experience, things like make-up stains are addressable through tweaks to normal wash chemistry. Things like rust stains are easily addressable, but require specialized spotters that you wouldn't want to have in your normal wash process. Things like boot, wheel, or "concrete" stains are more or less lost causes for laundry chemistry, although they're easily addressable by working on handling procedures with staff throughout the hotel to ensure that linens stay off floor. Bottom line, knowing the stains that are getting through your process is critical to figuring out what to do next.
- Make sure your Executive Housekeeper is on the same page as laundry staff as to what constitutes a "non-presentable" linen item. Obviously every housekeeper wants to keep stained linen out of guest rooms, but figuring out whether a very small, very light grey spot on an otherwise pristine sheet is enough to send it to the reclaim or discard pile is much more of an art than science. Every hotel has a slightly different standard around presentability of linens, and we have found that the best way to manage this dynamic is for our laundry managers to spend a little bit of time each month (usually at the same time as inventory) looking at stains on sheets that the laundry sent to discard on behalf of the hotel. The hotel's Executive Housekeeper or Housekeeping Supervisor can then let the laundry know whether it made the right call, or whether it's sending too many (or not enough) stained sheets to discard.
- Make sure your laundry vendor is sampling its wash loads to keep constant track of reclaim percentages. While we find it's a bit overkill to count the outcome of every single linen item to pass through the facility, it's important that your laundry vendor is taking regular samples of the outcome of its process and can report on its first wash success rate an its reclaim success rate. This is of course good information for a hotel's management to know, but it's absolutely critical to your laundry vendor's ability to manage their chemical vendors -- without data about outcomes of each wash process, it's hard to keep a chemical vendor accountable for their outcomes.
- Make sure the laundry is prepped to avoid laundry-acquired stains. Having adequate capacity in the soil sort area (so that linens stay in carts rather than the floor), adding carpeted mats to the area in front of washers and dryers, and regular cleaning and preventive maintenance on an ironing line are all critical to ensuring that clean linen stays clean during the finishing stages of a laundry operation.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series -- what to do outside the laundry and inside the hotel. If you missed part 1 on what to do inside the washing machine, click here.
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