Coronavirus has side swiped economies and societies around the world in a way that was unimaginable other than in the realms of science fiction. But in time we will find a new normal and both laundries and drycleaners will reopen with clients desperate to have their garments and items cleaned.
With, dare it be said, time on our hands, now is a good time for laundries to re-evaluate how their businesses are run and which consumables such as detergents they use. Price is important – it would be a lie to indicate otherwise – but it’s not the be-all and end-all; customers want quality and cleanliness too. So, where is the market in terms of chemicals and solvents that can be deployed? Adam Bernstein reports
Mary Simons, director at AGS, is, like the rest of the sector, grappling with the problems that COVID- 19 is throwing up: “As I write this, we are living through the worst time in my life that I have ever known and every morning arrives with me thinking have I just had a nightmare… and then I realise we are living it.”
However, as she points out, “regardless, life does go on and although our lifestyles have been minimised that said we all still wear clothes and are constantly using soft furnishing; we still all need washers and the best detergent to not only clean these articles but to make them smell good… in the UK we do require our garments to have a nice fragrance.” AGS, says Simons, has its own detergent range “which we introduced after doing a lot of testing not only with regards to cleaning power, but the fragrance left once articles dried.” She says that the company has brought to the market a detergent that is not the cheapest, but which offers excellent cleaning power and “is as green as we can get it and is concentrated so lasts longer.”
The range contains laundry detergent, fabric conditioner, emulsifier etc. and also wetcleaning chemicals and a range of pre-spotters. Simons is keen to emphasise the quality of what the company supplies: “The old saying is that ‘you only get what you pay for’ and in our case that is correct.” She warns that if you are looking for a cheap detergent with minimal cleaning power containing lots of chemicals, look elsewhere “as we cannot help you.” At present AGS is still sending out detergents to all of its customers including care and nursing homes, hotels, laundries, launderettes, and drycleaners. For them she notes that if AGS’s detergents are used with one of the company’s own automatic dosing systems “more money can be saved as over-dosing becomes a thing of the past.” As a bonus, and in general, the site is left looking much cleaner with no residue powder or liquid detergent to clean up. Simons says that AGS offers a well-rounded service from purchasing washers, installation, maintenance as well as a robust detergent range.
On top of this, she adds that the company has recently introduced AGS Care & Clean, a product that cleans the washer from the inside dissolving and preventing limescale, dissipating debris being held and removing any bacteria. Free samples are available to those that request it. As to the detergents themselves, Simons says that they contain no harmful additives and customers “are left with articles that have been wetcleaned or normal washed laundry which is thoroughly clean with a sensational smell.” She adds that all are as green as the company can achieve and are mainly plant based; also, all are matched with a fabric conditioner/softener.
In name, they are AGS Laundry and AGS Soft, AGS Emerald Green and AGS Emerald Soft, AGS Azur and AGS Azur Soft, and AGS White and AGS White Soft. Going beyond the ‘standard’ range, there is also AGS Equine and AGS Reproofer that contains aloe vera and is suitable to launder horse blankets etc., as well as all animal bedding. As Simons claims, “our reproofing liquid does just what it states and makes the article waterproof.” There are additional products including AGS Oxitex, an auxiliary product which can be used with any of the above products boosting stain removal; AGS Emulsifier, which boosts grease removal. Simons says that many commercial laundries must use this product to comply with their insurance obligations; and AGS Natural Starch. The majority of the products are supplied in 15 litre containers; however, some are sold in one litre containers.
The majority of AGS’s products are in 15 litre containers however some are sold in one litre containers.
Just some of the range of detergents from AGS.
Kreussler Textile Care
Hygienic textiles are especially important in care homes according to Kreussler.
Kreussler, a German firm founded in 1912, knows a thing or two about good laundry. Still a family business managed by the fourth generation, it has two divisions: Pharma and Textile Care.
According to Thomas Zeck, commercial director at Kreussler Textile Care, the importance to clients of having clean textiles is not going to diminish. Customers are still demanding that bed linen as well as clothes are not just free from stains, but hygienically clean, and it’s something that laundries and cleaners must deal with. Kreussler has a number of solutions for cleaning any kind of textiles thoroughly “while improving not just hygiene and environmental impact, but cost-efficiency as well.”
Zeck knows that customers expect a lot nowadays from their laundry and drycleaner. He says that “their clothes must be hygienically clean, feel and smell great, and not get damaged, and all that has to be achieved in a sustainable way, neither impacting the environment nor anyone’s health – and, of course, it should not cost the earth.” He points first to the original Lanadol wetcleaning product which uses water instead of solvent to offer a generally sustainable prof ile. As he describes, the cleaning agents are biodegradable “and extremely concent rated, minimising resources.” Zeck says that with Lanodol only some six litres of water are needed per kilogramme of wetcleaned fabrics.
Also, it is claimed that 95 per cent of all cleaned garments can be treated using the Lanadol Dry process, “skipping the pre-brushing process and taking less than an hour from start to finish.” Kreussler’s engineers suggest that this saves not only time and resources but avoids risk of maltreatment by not properly trained staff. “Clients love the scent and feel of their cleaned textiles which keep their form as well as their colours,” says Zeck, adding: “A great plus is the additional hygiene provided by using Lanadol ABAC. Because of its broad microbiocidal spectrum of activity, it can be used for delicate fabrics containing sensitive fibres like Angora. That way cherished clothes can be treated hygienically without damaging them.” And for industrial as well as smaller laundries, Kreussler, says Zeck, has “a broad range of powerful detergents.” The company has made them as concentrated as possible which naturally helps with both storage space as well as transport costs for “a little product goes a long way.”
And for those keen on being green, Zeck says that all of Kreussler’s products are free from phosphates, borates or perborates, APEO, EDTA or NTA. On top of that, several detergents have a hygienic effect as well. Here he points to a powder detergent, TREBON PLUS, “which has been approved by the German Robert Koch institute to be used against viruses and bacteria.” To ensure correct dosing, Kreussler has built its own dosing systems for user with a single washer-extractor and the washer-extractor series up to continuous batch washers. As Zeck comments, “the EASY dosing systems meet the needs of smaller opl companies as well as those of textile cleaning units with integrated laundry services and industrial laundries.”
Not forgetting the drycleaner, Kreussler’s SYSTEMK4 offers a “classic solvent solution.” A pure, halogen-free organic solvent, Zeck says that “SOLVONK4 often cleans even better than perc, while having a far superior environmental prof ile. The pre-brushing agent PRENETTK4, containing neither fragrance nor VOC, the drycleaning detergent CLIPK4, and the proofing spray VINOYK4 complete the package, while other Kreussler solutions cover special requirements such as leather finishing.” In offering more detail on SOLVONK4’s ‘ultra-purity’, Zeck says that “it shows long-term stability even after many cleaning cycles and is therefore extremely cost-efficient in contrast to modified hydrocarbon solvents which cannot be as easily separated from water and which offer a far higher solvent loss.” He says that “more than 1,200 successful installations worldwide support our claim in providing a new standard in sustainable drycleaning.”
As an aside, Kreussler says that it follows the guidelines of the Responsible Care initiative. With five subsidiary offices in the USA, UK, France, Italy, and Sweden, it also has technical field services in many other countries. Even so, everything is made exclusively at its headquarters in Wiesbaden where the in-house R&D department is also located.
Peter Hallett, group sales manager for Washing Systems Ltd (WSI ), says that his company is excited “to introduce a truly revolutionary wash process with universal application.” And he suggests that as an “innovator in the industry” WSI will be continuing a “history of introducing landmark industry innovations with numerous patents specific t o the commercial laundry industry.” One such development is TRUpath, a patent-pending wash process, which WSI “is significantly changing the game.” Says Hallett, “washing free of alkali, TRUpath presents a breakthrough innovation in cleaning qual ity and finish quality as it produces hygienically clean textiles while extending textile life by over 25 per cent and saving 30-60 hours of machine time per week on average.” He adds that TRUpath provides “significant benefits” to the quality of goods laundries produce: “A gentler wash process removes concerns of alkaline hydrolysis, greatly extends useful life of reflective garments, and produces whiter whites and brighter brights.”
Furthermore, Hal lett claims that the patent-pending process, “through its innovative combination of solutions, is proven to dramatically reduce merchandise costs for operators… TRUpath is a true innovation in cleaning quality, achieving unmatched success in the removal of the harsh industrial grime and oil, as well as the tough to remove food soils.” WSI believes that TRUpath is “better for the planet and your bottom line,” while it optimises the energy and water consumption of each load, yielding significant benefits to each plant. As well as being free of alkali, it’s also free of NPEs, phosphates and EDTAs. WSI says that its formula structure “is proven to significantly enhance plant capacity, while demonstrating up to 30 per cent savings in utility costs per load.” As to why the removal of alkali from the wash process is so important, Hallett says that it’s because “it significantly minimises employees’ risk of exposure to caustic soda and sites no longer need to prepare for hazardous bulk deliveries.” Further, Hallett says that WSI’s technology also reduces or removes the need for sulphuric acid in water treatment because without the high pH levels of traditional washing, there is no need for harsh, dangerous acids to be added to the process.
As an added layer of security, WSI utilises a sanitiser, PerTect, that is designed specifically for use in commercial laundries on textiles. To summarise the benefits of TRUpath, Hallett says that it offers laundries alkali-free washing, improved quality, shorter washes, decreased water usage, increased production, decreased energy usage, longer lasting textiles while meeting hygienically clean standards.
Paul Hamilton, left, and David Midgley of Regenex, the linen recovery specialists whose innovative techniques remove stains from condemned linen, breathing new life into fabrics that would otherwise be sent to rag.
Heike Kropf, business development manager for Ecolab, starts by noting how the firm is “a trusted partner at nearly three million customer locations” while asserting that it’s the “global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies and services that protects people and vital resources.”
With annual sales of $14 billion and 48,000 employees it would be fair to say that Ecolab is a big player in the sector. But as Kropf notes, “Ecolab aims to deliver comprehensive solutions to promote safe food, maintain clean environments, optimise water and energy use, while improving operational eff iciencies for customers in many fields such as food, healthcare, energy, hospitality and industrial markets.”
For our purposes, Kropf says the company is a provider of “complete, sustainable solutions for commercial and industrial laundries, and our sustainability efforts go beyond what we do for our customers and what we achieve in our own operations.” Kropf says the firm is perpetually working to develop new technology, while partnering with government and non-profit organisations “to make the world cleaner, safer and healthier.” As for laundry products, Kropf says Ecolab is finalising the development of a brand-new solution for sensitive garments “that offer outstanding cleaning per formance and colour maintenance together with the highest level of care for the textiles.” The range will be launched soon in the UK.
In the meantime, Kropf draws at tention to what everyone is talking about right now – COVID-19: “In the current situation we see an increased awareness of the requirements concerning disinfection. The pandemic has led to more questions and discussion about disinfection of textiles, not only in healthcare laundries but across all sectors. We are seeing a market trend to get better knowledge on the different disinfection levels and requirements, biocides legislation and process security.” Kropf says that in the short term Ecolab is preparing various new washing concepts “to offer alternative ways of disinfection not only for healthcare facilities, but also to service the required hygiene standards in the hospitality market and for the industry in general; we’ve done this by combining chemical and thermal disinfection together alongside process validation.”
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