Leonard Laundry

How Do I Keep My Linens Looking White? Part 2

By Rich Fitzmorris  

No matter what segment of the laundry industry a facility services – on-premise hotel, nursing care, hospital, linen plant or large cooperative – quality is extremely important. Quality is what customers look for and what laundry facilities strive to produce.

In part one of my article, “How Do I Keep My Linens Looking White?” I discussed a number of factors that affect the finished product in a laundry. But if there is one single factor that is most important it is the ‘solvent’ of all washrooms cleaning — WATER.

Why is water the most important factor in keeping and making whites – white? Because no matter what else you do in the laundering process you can’t ignore the main ingredient of the cleaning process.

There are certain factors that every laundry should know about the water they use for their cleaning process. Yes its water – but what’s in that water? What exactly are you starting with?

Your chemical specialist or perhaps an on-site staff member should sample your building’s incoming water. Then there should be testing and analysis for the following: water clarity, water hardness, total dissolved solids (TDS), and iron content (as pmm), pH, and Bicarb.

Although there are other tests, these are the most significant to determine what may be needed to treat the water prior to its entering the laundry. It would also be wise to have a water sample tested by an outside company that can give you a detailed and analytical water report.

Without consistent good water, it will be nearly impossible to maintain exceptional whites and bright colors. Good quality water, or properly treated water can and will pay dividends in the second most important laundry expense – textile replacement. When linens are abused by chemicals – to compensate for poor water quality – the typical outcome is premature disposal of textiles due to appearance, or what looks like worn-out goods.

It should also be noted that once there is a buildup of the deposits listed above in textiles, it can be very difficult to reverse or strip those undesirable deposits from the goods without severe damage to tensile strength.

There are other benefits to laundering with water that helps – doesn’t hurt – your laundering process. One benefit would be lower chemical costs because generally it will take less chemicals to clean the textiles. Less usage of water is also possible since added chemistry rinses easier and faster, resulting in fewer rinses or less water in the rinse cycles. You may also see a reduction in utility usage when using less water which will decrease the cost of water and sewer charges. Finally, washing equipment repairs may be reduced due to longer lasting water valves as well as door seals in washer extractors and there may be fewer, or no, issues with water pipes in the laundry.

• Next month we will discuss: what determines good water and how to cost effectively treat water that doesn’t meet the criteria.


Rich Fitzmorris is a veteran of the laundry industry. Rich retired after 42 years at Sunburst Chemicals. Although he headed up various Sunburst business sectors throughout his career, prior to retiring, Rich was Senior Vice President Professional Textile Chemistry, where he oversaw the company’s Large Laundry Division, laundry product development and chemical technology. Presently, he is putting his experience to work consulting in the areas of industrial and commercial laundry wash processes, chemistry, production, utilities, formulas and cost reductions.