How to Remove Stains in a Commercial Laundry

Running a commercial laundry facility comes with its set of challenges, and one of the most common is dealing with stubborn stains. Whether you're managing laundry for hotels, restaurants, or hospitals, ensuring that linens come out spotless is important to maintaining high customer satisfaction.

Understand the Stain Type

The first step in effective stain removal is identifying the type of stain you're dealing with. Stains can be broadly categorised into protein, oil, tannin, dye, and combination stains. Each type requires a different approach:

  • Protein stains (e.g., blood, sweat, food) are best treated with cold water and enzymatic cleaners.
  • Oil stains (e.g., grease, makeup) need a solvent-based stain remover.
  • Tannin stains (e.g., wine, coffee) should not be treated with soap initially, as this can set the stain.
  • Dye stains (e.g., ink, marker) often require alcohol-based solvents.
  • Combination stains (e.g., lipstick, tomato sauce) are complex and might need multiple treatments.

Pre-treatment is Key

Pre-treating stains before they go into the wash can significantly increase the chances of removing them. Here are some effective pre-treatment methods:

  • Spot Treatment: Apply a small amount of stain remover directly to the stain. Use a soft-bristled brush to gently work in the solution without spreading the stain further.
  • Soaking: For tough stains, soaking the fabric in a solution of water and suitable stain remover can loosen the stain. Timing can vary from 30 minutes to several hours depending on the severity of the stain.

Choose the Right Chemicals

Commercial laundries have access to a wide range of cleaning chemicals, but choosing the right one is essential. Enzymatic detergents are excellent for organic stains, while oxygen-based bleaches can help lift more stubborn stains without damaging fabrics. Always test a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure that there is no discolouration or damage to the fabric.

Washing Protocols

After pre-treatment, the washing process must be optimised for stain removal:

  • Temperature: Hot water can help dissolve many types of stains but can set protein-based stains. It’s important to match the water temperature to the type of stain.
  • Cycle Time: Extended wash cycles may be necessary to remove difficult stains. However, too long can wear down the fabric.
  • Mechanical Action: Ensure the washing machines are not overloaded to allow sufficient mechanical action and water circulation around the stained fabrics.

Post-Wash Inspection and Re-treatment

After washing, inspect the linens before they are dried:

  • Inspection: Check if stains have been removed. Drying can set some types of stains permanently.
  • Re-treatment: If the stain is still there, treat the fabric again with a targeted approach based on the stain type.

Train Your Staff

Ensure your staff are well-trained in these procedures. They should be able to identify different types of stains and know the appropriate treatments. Regular training sessions can help keep everyone updated on new methods and products.

Regular Maintenance of Equipment

Lastly, the maintenance of laundry equipment also plays a role in effective stain removal. Regularly serviced and calibrated machines ensure consistent wash quality and prevent issues like detergent build-up, which can impact stain removal.

Removing stains in a commercial laundry environment requires knowledge, the right chemicals, and precise processes. By understanding the types of stains and how they react to different treatments, you can significantly improve your stain removal success rate. Remember, the goal is not just to clean but to maintain the quality and longevity of the linens you’re entrusted with.