Textile abuse is an often hidden or ignored problem that can subtract significant dollars from a laundry’s profitability. Identifying problem areas and implementing changes can result in program cost savings. Although requiring investigation time and expertise, these changes typically require little/no capital or chemical expense and simple fixes that yield valuable returns.
The Laundry Environment and Other Situations
Textiles are vulnerable to attack from a multitude of misuse situations. One that is easily overlooked is the laundry environment: a chemical, thermal, and mechanical constant for every wash cycle. Laundry chemistry and machine programs have significant impact on textile fiber damage or longevity. Matching fiber and soil classification types to machine chemistry and programs can optimize soil removal, fabric wear, and overall product quality. Utilizing a “one program fits all” or demanding unreasonable rewash percentages easily takes a toll on fabric life.
Low pH, chlorine bleach, temperature, and extended wash cycles can deliver low rewash results, but the fiber toll on cottons and cotton blends can often be found in the dryer. Studies have shown direct correlation between dryer lint and textile replacement costs. Optimized machine programs focusing on chemical alkalinity, bleach, appropriate temperature, and program time all contribute to optimization of textile integrity.
High alkalinity can destroy polyester fibers through a process called alkaline hydrolysis. This damage is caused by a pH of 10.8 or greater and results in a wide range of fiber damage depending on the manufacturing process of the fiber. It is irreversible, costly, and dangerous, if polyester threads are dissolved out of garments or slings designed for patient support.
Textiles can be permanently damaged by betadine, iodine, and chlorhexidine. Care must be taken to pre-treat textiles ahead of a chlorine bleach step to minimize irreversible brown stains.
Table napery can be affected by food soils that are allowed to remain in the textile. Un-removable food stains and holes caused by allowing acidic materials to remain on textiles can be the result of extended time between soiling and washing of napery.
Good care in transit and storage can aid in fabric longevity. Well kept carts and storage can prevent snags, rips and tears, and inadvertent environmental soiling.
Make sure that textiles are used for their intended purpose. Color coded towels can help with cross use of guest towels for cleaning operations. Acid bathroom cleaners can quickly destroy cotton towels.
Follow manufacturer’s direction for microfiber and other specialty fiber wash. Do not bleach garments or mops that are fastened with Velcro. While the textile can usually tolerate the chlorine bleach, Velcro is destroyed by hypochlorite solutions.Isolate microfiber from cotton articles: Cotton fibers are highly attracted to microfiber and lessen the ability of the microfiber to attract soil. Avoid mixing cotton materials in microfiber loads.
Maintain good par control:
Make everyone accountable for their textile inventories. Textiles that “disappear” directly affect your textile investment. Marking items with facility names or other inventory controls can be effective.
Your chemical supplier:
Rely on your chemical supplier to assist in problem solving. Their expertise and laboratory support facilities can go a long way in identifying causes of textile damage. Time and effort allocated to review the above situations can pay big dividends, and make review of textile replacement costs satisfying to track. Marlene Williams Lab/R&D Manager Anderson Chemical Company 325 So. Davis Avenue Litchfield, MN 55355 (800) 366-2477 Meet the Anderson Chemical team at the 2015 Universal Unilink Business Development Conference, September 30 – October 2