August 17, 2022
Between general labor shortages and COVID-19, many properties have struggled with staffing to keep their hotel laundry running smoothly. In some cases, managers & administrative staff have found themselves becoming the de facto laundry manager, with little or no experience.
Industrial laundry is a specialized field that is quite different from the at-home laundering we’re all used to. To help ensure your hotel laundry runs smoothly, we’ve compiled our top 8 keys to success for a new, inexperienced hotel laundry manager.
When you first step into a hotel laundry, you will likely be confused by the labels you see on the chemicals. One of the first steps is to ensure you understand what each chemical is and how it should be used.
Since most hotel linens are white, it can be tempting to combine them all into one load. However, different product types (such as sheets and towels) require different wash cycles and drying times. In addition, towels can become “balled up” inside of sheets, reducing the effectiveness of the wash. Separating linens by type is essential to ensuring a thorough clean and maximizing the life of your linens.
While at home washing machines offer pre-set wash cycles (such as delicate, bedding, or normal) industrial washing machines allow each step in the washing process to be programed with a length, function, and temperature. Here is a basic breakdown of each step:
Different types of linens require different wash cycles. It is critical that you understand the make up of your linens and choose your wash cycle appropriately. Consult your linen manufacturer for recommendations if necessary.
Most laundry novices don’t realize that over-drying is one of the easiest ways to cause wrinkles and shrinkage in your textiles. Believe it or not, you should never dry your hotel laundry until the items are bone dry. Cotton in its “dry” state holds about 7-8% of its weight in water. Without this moisture, the fabric will be somewhat limp and prone to shrinkage and wrinkles. To avoid this, linens should still be slightly damp when removed from the dryer.
Another important tip is to utilize a cool down cycle. The hotter the fabric, the more prone it will be to wrinkle or shrink. Make sure your dryer programming includes a cool-down cycle and use it. That drop in temperature will help the fibers relax and minimize the potential for wrinkling.
A final step to avoid wrinkles is to fold immediately after drying. When folding, try to smooth out any creases or wrinkles that are present.
Let’s face it, stains are an inevitable part of hotel laundry. Properly treating and removing stains can save your property considerably, since staining is one of the most common causes of discarding used linen.
The key to stain control is to spot treat as quickly as possible. The longer a stain sits in a room, the more set in that stain will become. In addition, stained items should be separated from non-stained items and washed separately. You will want to keep a close eye on these “stained loads” to ensure full stain removal. If the first wash is unsuccessful, you will need to attempt to repeat the process before drying. Drying will cause a stain to become fully set and impossible to remove.
Feeling overwhelmed by stains? Check out our comprehensive guide to Tackling Cosmetic Stains.
Not all products require ironing, however, some items may. Consult your fabric care instructions if you are unsure. Many hotel laundry operations use what is called a flatwork ironer. A flatwork ironer is made up of a large, heated roller. When passing through this roller, the items are both ironed and dried. While this piece of equipment can be a huge time saver, you’ll want to ensure you have been properly trained on how to safely operate the iron.
While flatwork irons dry products while operating, we do not recommend you completely skip the drying phase. Instead of a full drying cycle, we recommend a “pre-condition” of 5-10 minutes after washing. This step will ensure proper moisture content and will help maximize product life.
Not having enough clean linen for your housekeeping staff is a problem you don’t want to encounter. Thankfully, there is a simple way to avoid this problem. Par level (or Periodic Automatic Replacement) is a system that calculates the minimum inventory your properties should keep in stock to avoid shortages. The par level of a hotel should be at least 3 par, or 3 complete sets of bedding and towels per room. This allows for one set in the room, one set on the shelf, and one set in the laundry. Many properties go beyond this and carry 3.25 par. This allows a small buffer to account for loss, damage, or wear and tear.
Lack of a proper par level will mean that your housekeepers will be taking linen straight from the dryer to their rooms. While you might think this is nothing to worry about, it is actually a worst-case scenario for your linens. Without proper rest, cotton products can begin to lose strength and durability. In addition, using immediately after laundering can lead to guest complaints of “scratchy” sheets or towels. To avoid this, allow product to rest on laundry shelves for 24 hours. This rest period allows the cotton fibers to re-hydrate and will ultimately extend the life of your bedding and towels.
Standard Textile’s dedicated team of textile and laundry experts are here for you. Contact us today to discuss your property’s linen challenges and keep your hotel laundry running smoothly.
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