The wonder of wet

Solvents are still around, and no doubt will be for some time to come. However, wetcleaning is growing in importance as some drycleaners convert – partially or in full. For some it’s about the results. For others, it’s about running greener processes which not only help the environment, but which lower bills and attract more custom.

Adam Bernstein examines what’s new and what will lead the way in 2021 and 2022.

Adam Bernstein reports

Renzacci UK offers the Electrolux Professional’s lagoon® Advanced Care system – “a machine that’s solely dedicated to wetcleaning”

Jason Alexander, managing director of Renzacci UK believes that the sector understands the advantages of moving towards wetcleaning.

But “whilst many seek professional advice… others take an alternative route which costs them more in the long run.” He says that “their choice is to implement a glorified washing machine and attempt to carry out wetcleaning.” Renzacci UK wants to “help those business owners that have impulsively implemented a split system.”

Says Alexander, “although it may seem that implementing a programmable washing machine to process wetcleaning is a good commercial decision, it certainly is not. These types of machines are more expensive to run, and many business owners encounter numerous issues with wetcleaning production and the quality side of the machine.”

Renzacci UK offer a range of wetcleaning options with training, detergent supply, spare parts and machinery support. Onto the machines, he cites Electrolux Professional’s lagoon® Advanced Care system – “a machine that’s solely dedicated to wetcleaning. It can process up to 250 items per day and uses less water and energy than others on the market – making it cheap to run, environmentally-friendly, whilst improving the bottom line for drycleaners and laundries.”

He adds that the new-to-market Line 6000 range “is their most exciting development yet and available to order through Renzacci UK.” Specifically, “the WH6-6 washer can be stacked in series with the TD6-7 Line 6000 dryer, to allow operators to wash and dry 60kg per day from just a 0.4m2 footprint.”

Alexander reckons that 85 per cent of a commercial washer’s lifecycle cost is comprised of utility and running costs – and “the Line 6000 range has been designed to keep these to a minimum, while maximising sustainability.” He picks out the Automatic Savings programme, in models of 14kg and over, which “adjusts the volume of water used in line with the weight of the load, while integrated savings helps to avoid over and underloading to maximise productivity.” There’s also a built-in power balance extraction sequence which translates into real-time unbalance monitoring and G-factor adjustment throughout the extraction sequence “for efficient dewatering and low moisture retention.”

The system has a new Clarus Vibe control panel for a better user experience which streamlines programming. As Alexander explains, “the seven-inch full HD colour interface provides a clear layout for users; while dedicated programmes can be customised by garment or cycle and full management reports can be simply downloaded showing utilisation, running costs and activity.”

There is a growing desire to offer customers more sustainable cleaning options and wetcleaning offers better quality cleaning of water-soluble stains and odours,” says Jeremy Challis, sales director at Girbau UK. He thinks this is a factor driving wider adoption of wetcleaning in the UK.

From his st andpoint , wetcleaning is popular with new entrants to the market, although he says Girbau is “also seeing traditional drycleaning companies adopting wetcleaning more and more now.” He thinks it better for modern fabrics with technical treatments, as the treatments are unaffected by the water-based cleaning process.

Challis tells how “Girbau’s programmable HS Ser ies INTELI washers and premium ED Series dryers have a full range of wetcleaning and laundry programmes, so the same machines can be used both for wetcleaning and general laundry.” There’s a Care Touch drum on both washers and dryers that features recessed vents and a highly polished surface, “which protects and preserves delicate wetcleaning fabrics and ensures a longer lifetime for everyday linens.”

Other features of these wetcleaning ready machines include HS washers’ Aquafall water wheel effect, which Challis says “gets water moving without agitating linen and Aquamixer’s precise automatic water temperature control.”

ED series dryers ensure all items are dried “safely, uniformly, efficiently and cost-effectively.” Challis points to a built-in humidity control system that automatically senses when clothes are dry and activates the cooldown process “to maximise energy efficiency.” And then there’s Girbau’s Transflow technology which “is a combination of both radial and axial airf low for maximum efficiency, reduced cycle times and lower energy costs.” Craig Jones of Cheshire-based Hartford Dry Cleaners recently installed an HS-6017 washer and ED 460 dryer from Girbau as the business introduced a wetcleaning service. Challis says that “the new equipment has helped Hartford to move through work more quickly and efficiently, with very positive feedback from customers.”

Whether an experienced operator or a new start-up, Challis says “Girbau offers advice on the best choice and right size of equipment for wetcleaning, along with productivity and running costs.” He adds that the planning process considers the unique factors of each individual business in terms of the types and volumes of textiles to be cleaned

Girbau’s programmable HS Series INTELI washers and premium ED Series dryers have a range of wetcleaning and laundry programmes

DLS sells the Electrolux lagoon® Advanced Care system and believes “it the best on the market”

Lorraine Groves, director at DLS, says she has seen great advances in wetcleaning technology: “The majority of our enquiries are now for wetcleaning systems as opposed to drycleaning; everyone is now more than aware of the environmental impacts of solvents.”

DLS sells the Electrolux lagoon® Advanced Care system and believes “it the best on the market. It replaces the traditional drycleaning system with ease and does not require any specialist finishing equipment. Not only that, but when you have finished doing your wetcleaning items, you can use the equipment for laundry as well.”

She adds that with lagoon® Advanced Care, there is no licence to purchase for the disposal of hazardous waste and the working environment is safer and smells fresher too.

Being a water-based cleaning technique, Groves says that “it operates with simplicity of solvent-based cleaning processes but in an eco-friendly way.” There are three detergents and six pre-spotting agents.

Groves is a fan of the lagoon® Advanced Care system – DLS uses it daily in its working showroom – “customers can come and try the system for themselves, with their own textiles and get results within one hour.”

Beyond lagoon®, Groves talks of the Electrolux Line 6000 Clarus Vibe system. As she highlights, “with its integrated weighing system, you can programme the washer with a minimum and maximum load required. The machine won’t start if there are too few or too many garments. And the dryer, with its adjustable drum speed, can be set to dry even the most delicate garment.”

She adds that the Line 6000 version “blends all the innovations of the new range with the utmost attention to textile cleaning quality and performance.” She cites new functionalities and the Woolmark company’s endorsement. DLS provides after sales service which Groves says, “is just as important as the sale.” The company. also provides as much training as the customer requires even though the lagoon® Advanced Care system “is extremely user friendly.”

DLS also provides the lagoon® Advanced Care chemicals, “so we really are a one stop shop

According to Oxwash founder, Kyle Grant, his company offers a sustainable alternative through wetcleaning and does so through an “on-demand laundry service that cleans clothes in a more conscious way.”

“Wetcleaning ,” sa ys Grant, “uses only water and biodegradable detergents rather than the carcinogenic solvents used in traditional drycleaning”. He says that it is “gentle and natural and takes better care of your clothes, skin, lungs and the planet.” He explains that the Oxwash wetcleaning process involves gentle drum rotation with water showering; a gentle cleaning process; biodegradable detergents that are hypoallergenic and have a fresh natural scent; offer organic stain removal; and which is faster.

As for disadvantages, Grant notes just two. It requires “experienced staff to handle items and run machines correctly as it’s a fairly complicated process – especially when wetcleaning delicate materials.” Also, he says that there are a handful of fabrics that can’t be wetcleaned, including leather, suede and some heavyweight satins. That said, he points out that many items that are labelled dryclean only can still be wetcleaned: “We can safely wetclean suits, dresses, silk, cashmere, jumpers and outdoorwear such down-filled jackets, along with tricky textiles and awkward items usually reserved for drycleaning.”

The reality for Grant is that “almost everything can be wetcleaned – despite what the care labels say.” He does Oxwash Dane Realstar Oxwash says that almost everything can be wetcleaned – despite what the care labels say Oxwash not only washes sustainably but collects laundry sustainably too Dane Realstar’s Aquastar machines offer the latest designs and operator interfaces and include colour touchscreen displays caution that items should be inspected first though. Oxwash machines process both wet and dryclean-only items, as well as standard laundry. As for the process, Oxwash sorts items by textile, colour, weight and soiling categories. Then stain removers are added for stains that need help to shift, such as makeup and ink. High pressure air and water plus a vacuum push and pull dirt out of fabric using renewable energy.

Second, the correct programme is selected, typically at 20˚C. Next, the machines initially coat items in a layer of dirt repelling molecules that prevent stains from redepositing during the wash. Here Grant says that “a mixture of a gentle rocking action, soaking and a shower pump inside the drum gently remove dirt and stains before the final rinse and conditioning.”

Lastly, garments are dried using specialised programmes that analyse the water content of the garment. The temperature dynamically decreases as the cycle progresses to prevent shrinkage. When items are dry, they are finished by hand using steam, hot and cold air to remove all creases.

Oxwash not only washes sustainably but collects laundry sustainably too

Oxwash says that almost everything can be wetcleaned – despite what the care labels say

Miele’s Benchmark range includes the Performance Plus machines which offer wetcleaning solutions

The professional division of Miele Professional has, says Simon Venni, country sales manager, GB&IE, launched a new generation of its Benchmark series. He says that “the washer and dryer range strike the perfect balance between cost-efficiency and premium results.” The new Benchmark series can accommodate a washer load capacity ranging from 12-20kg and a drying load capacity between 14kg-44kg. Venni says that “innovative technology is instilled throughout each model”, including frequency-controlled asynchronous motors “which promise smooth cycles at high speeds” as well as Miele’s honeycomb drum 2.0 “for optimum laundry care.”

Washing consumption values are claimed to be as low as 7.2 litres per kg of laundry for the Performance and 5.9 litres per kg of laundry for the Performance Plus. Venni says that this is a reduction of up to one litre per kg compared to its predecessor and “users can also expect short cycle times for maximum efficiency.” A 12kg laundry load, for example, can be thoroughly washed and left with only 44 per cent residual moisture in 42 minutes.

The Performance and Performance Plus dryer range feature an upgraded AirRecycling Flex System – which Venni says “uses heat energy efficiently by redirecting air circulation back into the drum. Intelligently adjusting to onsite conditions, this helps save time while the machine is still cold and preserves energy when at operating temperatures.” The PerfectDry system continuously records residual moisture levels in the load.

Programmes can be adapted to individual user and business requirements. Operators can select from a range of programmes or select from a tailor-made washer or dryer solution to match the garment being laundered. Thermal and Chemo-thermal disinfection programmes are also available to ensure hygiene compliance, preventing the spread of infection.

New Miele M Touch Pro controls have been installed which Venni says “makes the new generation Benchmark series easy to use for any user.” This includes a full colour touchscreen display, ‘ShowMeHow’ sequences to assist operators and multiple language selections. Controls will respond to touch even with gloves on.

Venni concludes by saying that all washing machines are built to last for 30,000 operating hours and all dryers are tested to 40,000 cycles.

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