For any business, finding ways to minimize costs and improve profitability is key to success. For hotels, striking a balance between providing top-notch customer service and being economically sound is a much more daunting task than many outside the industry might believe.
There is one service in particular, however, where there is often room for improvement. One service that can make or break a guest’s hotel experience: laundry. Everything from the freshness of the bedding to the softness and cleanliness of the towels contributes to a guest’s impression of his or her hotel stay, and these are things that depend on your laundry operating at peak efficiency.
However, despite the importance of laundry to a hotel’s continued operation, there are many common mistakes that are made, even by the best hoteliers. These mistakes can lead to needlessly high operational costs, a loss of guests and slow or ineffectual service.
Here is our list of the hotel laundry equipment issues:
1: Overloading Laundry Machines
This is the top mistake made by both professional laundry services and even people at home. With large, industrial-capacity laundry machines, the temptation is to fill them to the brim, rather than to their recommended capacity.
When a laundry machine is over-filled, it cannot distribute detergent evenly throughout the load or agitate fabrics properly, which leads to incomplete cleaning cycles and soil left in linens and towels.
Not only that, but trying to work while over capacity places extra wear and tear on the machines, causing them to wear out faster. This leads to increased costs for repair and/or replacement of laundry machines.
2: Under-Loading Laundry Machines
Sometimes, when a manager is worried about overloading their machines, they’ll make the opposite mistake and not put enough laundry in their machines before use. This can be very wasteful. A typical laundry machine will consume just as much water and energy with a half-load as it would with a full one.
In addition to being wasteful of water, half-loads can be wasteful of the time of laundry staff for in-house laundry operations. This practice cuts the total amount of laundry that can be processed each day in half. So, if your laundry operation would be a peak capacity with full loads, then only doing half loads can mean falling behind on providing guests necessities such as bedding linens or towels.
3: Not Cleaning Out Washing Machines
This is a mistake that is most common amongst first-time hotel owners and managers. After all, why would a machine designed for cleaning need to be cleaned?
The truth is that in between loads, not all water will leave the machine. At the end of the day, a laundry washing machine will have a small amount of standing water left in it. If left to sit overnight, this water can stagnate, creating unpleasant odors that will cling to fabrics washed in that machine.
To fight this problem, machines need to be cleaned at the end of the day so that water trapped in the drum of the machine doesn’t get the chance to become stagnant. This will help to keep machines working at peak efficiency, and prevent foul odors from becoming a part of your fabrics.
4: Using Too Much Chemicals
Using excessive amounts of chemicals beyond the amount actually needed to do the job does little to improve the quality of fabric care and cleaning. In fact, using too much detergent or other chemicals can actually cause premature wear on fabrics.
Too much chemicals in a washing cycle can help to promote color bleed, causing fabrics to lose their vibrant, new look. Worse yet, lighter-colored fabrics in the wash with darker-colored fabrics may absorb stray dye, ruining their appearance.
The best way to avoid this problem is to measure out your chemical use per load according to the amount recommended by the detergent’s manufacturer for your load size and machine type.
5: Not Monitoring Overall Utility and Chemical Use
For many hoteliers, the exact utility consumption of their in-house laundry operation remains an unknown value. Without some type of reliable measurement of how much water, energy, and chemicals are actually being used on a daily basis, it can be difficult to create an effective plan for optimizing your laundry operations.
The monthly utility bill might give you some indication of how much water you hotel uses, but that only measures how much water is flowing to your building in total. Your high utility costs might be because of your laundry operation, or it could be that leaky faucet in room 2E.
Monitoring the utilities used by your laundry machines gives you a better picture of just how much of your costs are caused by your laundry operation, and how much is from the other day-to-day operations of your hotel.
6: Failing to Adjust Machine Settings for Specific Fabrics
When laundry staff are busy rushing from one wash load to the next, setting the machines for the type of fabrics being cleaned can often be overlooked. Putting large, bulky delicates through the same type of wash cycle that you would use for thick, cottony towels that need to be sanitized in high heat and strong chemicals can cause excessive wear and tear.
On the other hand, putting heavy-soil items through a delicate cycle may result in such items not being sufficiently clean to use for guests, necessitating a second wash cycle. Not only does this put extra wear and tear on fabrics, but it is a waste of water and electric utilities as well as chemical.
With most standard washing machines, it is very important to choose the right settings for the fabrics being washed, or else risk damage to said fabrics.
#7: Sticking with the Same Old, Inefficient Machines
For the longest time, there was little reason to upgrade your in-house laundry equipment, assuming the older machinery was still in working order. For nearly 60 years, there was little true innovation in the design of commercial laundry machines, making upgrades an unnecessary expense.