October 2

How laundry chemistry is the key to better linen and laundry management

Blog insights, Laundry Operations


Proper linen and laundry management is the key to managing an efficient commercial laundry operation. Whether it is an inhouse operation or a facility performing laundry operations on behalf of other organisations, it is important to run it as efficiently as possible. Between the growing demands for ecological conservation and the growing costs of running a commercial laundry facility, large-scale commercial laundries need to devise ways to make their laundry washing more efficient than before. Fortunately, there are several ways this can be done, like investing in the right management software and optimising laundry chemistry. In this blog post, we are going to explain how laundry chemistry is the key to better commercial laundry management.

Types of chemicals commonly used in laundry and linen management

Commercial laundry washing relies heavily on synthetic detergents to wash away stains. Synthetic detergents are produced inexpensively using petrochemicals and are used along with lime soap scum to remove most stains. Nowadays, the best detergents come with a sequestering agent, which capture ions created from calcium and magnesium.

When agents capture the ions, it neutralises the ‘hard’ deposits in the water. The sequestering agent plays a vital role in cleaning laundry, while also leaving clothes feeling soft and supple. It is an upgrade from conventional detergents because, without these agents, grey scum would form in the water. The formation of grey scum compromises linen and laundry management because clothes (especially towels) would deteriorate at a faster rate than usual.

It is important to note that all detergents, be it standard or premium, feature a chemical called surfactant. The role of this chemical is to improve the ‘wetness’ of the water so that detergents can penetrate each yarn and wet every fibre in the clothing, making it easier for cleaning agents to perform their function. Meanwhile, chelating agents can be found in some detergents and their purpose is to capture any iron deposits in the water. High levels of iron will increase the risk of greying and even cause brown speckles to appear in the final product. While some commercial laundries allow for a minimal 0.1 ppm iron level, this can compromise quality, if not properly managed. Hence, we can see that there is a correlation between chelating agents and better linen and laundry management.

The emulsifier is added separately with the intent of liquifying fatty protein-based substances, like oil and grease. In other words, if there are grease stains on clothes, then emulsifiers are the key to cleansing laundry. While an exceptional surfactant combined with high-temperature water will also get the job done, emulsifiers specialise in this function and perform the liquefication at a faster rate. Emulsifiers are an essential part of linen management software because they lead to healthier textiles.

But what about whites? Whites require an additional chemical called optical brightening agent (OBA), which are responsible for bright white linen. OBA works by bonding to the textile surface and reacting to the ultraviolet component of natural daylight, causing linen to ‘sparkle’. OBAs are crucial for linen management because they make white linen look both clean and bright. However, OBA is not perfect because it does not work well with pastels as it makes the material look grey and the colours prematurely fade over time. Furthermore, if laundry is not rinsed properly, it would leave skin feeling irritated.

Understanding the importance of laundry chemicals

Laundry chemicals play a crucial role in commercial laundry management because they affect the longevity and cleanliness of linen. Misunderstanding laundry chemicals and incorrect chemical composition compromise the quality of clothes, leading to discolouration, greying, lower linen lifespan and even stains that are not properly clean. Of course, lower quality linen can be disastrous for commercial laundries. However, the right chemical composition will lead to cleaner laundry and long-lasting linen, which has a net positive effect in the form of happier clients and a better business reputation.

However, the quality of the linen is just one component of laundry management – commercial laundries should also take a look at the right technology, like smart laundry management systems to optimise management. Having the right software in place helps to optimise linen and laundry management is important because this streamlines several processes like online orders, dispatch, invoicing and generating detailed reports. Laundry software with RFID technology is even better suited to commercial laundries because they can use the technology to keep clients up to date on important information like the location of inventory. The right technology and proper understanding of laundry chemicals lead to better, smarter and more efficient laundry management.

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