At the Jewish Home and Care Center in Milwaukee, laundry is done from about 6:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Using two 75-pound washers and one 85-pound washer, the laundry staff does four loads of towels, three loads of sheets, and other loads with gowns, bath robes, bed spreads and soaker pads.

To combat stains, white linens are soaked and washed on a longer cycle with bleach. After rewashing two or three times, linens that still have stains are made into rags and used by housekeeping or the painting department.

When Jewish Home Laundry Supervisor Aldrenna Smith found she was rewashing a lot of linen because it wasn’t coming out as clean as she wanted it to, she spoke to the chemical supplier and the repairman who services the washing machines.

To improve quality control, Smith explained she wants clean, fresh-smelling linen, but she doesn’t want to wash it repeatedly. Doing so costs the department valuable dollars in chemical, water, linens and personnel time.

After changing some of the cycles on the washers, Smith reports she’s rewashing and disposing less than 1 percent of the linen.

While some facility executives reuse discarded linens for other tasks, others have found ways to profit from scrapped textiles.

Port Huron Hospital in Port Huron, Mich., washes almost 1.8 million pounds of laundry each year. All linen is washed on designated wash formulas designed for specific types of stains — of which bodily fluid stains are most common. If, after washing on a “rewash” formula, a stain is still visible, the item is removed from circulation.

In a year, Port Huron Hospital will remove roughly 6,600 lbs. of laundry because of stains or linen damage. But these items are not discarded as waste. Instead Port Huron Laundry Supervisor Reginald Lintz sells the discarded linen to other area businesses.

A program like this not only helps fund the replacement of linens, but it reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and fulfills a need for other businesses.

Cost Per Load

The cost of doing laundry is more than the cost of chemicals.

Rather than looking only at the cost of laundry chemicals, it’s more economical for managers to consider the overall cost per load. If a laundry supervisor invests in low-cost chemicals, but needs to do more rewashing, the cost per load increases with the increased use of labor, energy, water and chemicals.

The biggest cost in laundry comes in the form of labor. Second is the replacement expense of linens.

Implementing proper quality control procedures for textiles will increase productivity for departments and create a safer work environment. But laundry room supervisors and staff can’t do it alone. Chemical suppliers and machines also affect linen replacement and operating costs.

Managers are advised to work with their laundry supervisors, as well as their chemical suppliers, to outline best practices to increase efficiencies. 

While stains do occur, they should not cause lasting damage to a facility’s reputation. 

REBECCA KANABLE is a freelance writer based in East Troy, Wis.

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Best Practices For Laundry Efficiencies