It’s entirely clear that the world has – and quite rightly too – become more environmentally friendly.
Whether it’s energy efficiency, less use of fossil fuels or pointless packaging, ‘going green’ is in vogue. But as business in general can make changes so can the laundry sector through the deployment of wet cleaning technologies and the introduction of new solvents and equipment. So, what is new for the sector? Adam Bernstein reports.
Nicholas Higgs, partner and sales and service manager at Dane Realstar, thinks that wet and drycleaning processes complement each other to provide a complete garment cleaning package.
However, compared to dry cleaning, Higgs says that “wet cleaning is deemed to be environmentally friendly, thanks to the sensitive machinery and specialised detergents and conditioners that are more biodegradable.” While the British dry cleaner is still in love with perc, Higgs thinks that wet cleaning is the way forward. Higgs explains that wet cleaning is not a new process, but dates back to 1890’s – before dry cleaning became fashionable.
In fact, traditionally, most dry cleaners have offered a laundry service in their shops, using dry cleaning for the items considered unsuitable for laundering. “Interest in wet cleaning was renewed in the 1990’s. It is a cleaning process that effectively cleans all garments using a safe and biodegradable detergent process, using up to date machines with low mechanical action and moisture control.” He adds that several detergent suppliers have been developing and testing environmentally friendly alternatives to dry cleaning. The washing cycle now uses 30 per cent less water than conventional machines and can clean at as little as 20°C, reducing energy consumption by 50 per cent.
There is a warning though from Higgs: “It must be remembered, however, that low temperature washing without the antibacterial product will not destroy bacterial deposits in the clothing.” Further, wet cleaning requires experienced operators with a background in textile care – “without this knowledge,” says Higgs, “new users can fall foul of damaging garments resulting in compensation claims.” That said, he says detergents cover all types of garments from standard laundry items such as shirts through to an antibacterial product to cover garments from hospitals and care homes.
As for machinery, Dane Realstar has teamed up with Aquastar and Fimas systems for both wet and dry cleaning. Aquastar washing machines feature capacities of 10 to 120kg and have a drum designed to reduce the wear and damage to garments. The machines also have normal washing programmes. “Wet cleaning,” says Higgs, “running alongside the conventional dry cleaning system has changed everything. Dry cleaners can have a new product offering without financial impact on their customers and improve health and safety conditions for employees, customers and the community.” Lastly, Dane Realstar works with Cole & Wilson to supply their Pro-Fit range of detergents.
Aquastar washing machines from Dane Realstar have capacities of 10 to 120kg and feature a drum designed to reduce the wear and damage to garments.
Steve Weaver, business development manager at Swift Choice Ltd, advocates products from Tintolav – wet and fresh cleaning system – under the Hygienfresh brand.
Weaver says the company “spent years redeveloping a wet cleaning line because we wanted to create a new range that uses the latest technical innovations available to ensure that our wet cleaning system can be safely used on the widest range of fabric possible.”
A second goal, he says, was for the range to be compatible with any machine that is wet cleaning ready. “Highly concentrated products, reduced product dosage, washing at the lowest possible temperature, protecting colours and fabric, and shorter washing cycles – they all help reduce costs and environmental impact.”
The system features eight different products, each for a specific use, covering a wide of fabrics and materials. Weaver outlines them: Wool and silk: An enzymatic product for delicate garments with a tri-enzymatic system which was specifically developed for wool and silk. The result is greater cleaning power at low temperature of 20°C.
A pH buffer system ensures the correct pH is maintained during the wash to ensure that shrinkage and felting don’t happen. Soft and caps: A speciality fabric conditioner that should be added to final rinse. It contains silk proteins and lanolin to ensure greater softness and fabric protection. PiumaCare: A specific detergent that deep cleans and protects feathers when washing padded jackets, duvets, pillows, down quilts etc. It has a high concentration of surfactants and a buffer system which preserves feather.
Piuma Soft: A finishing and volumising agent for garments and soft furnishings with feathers. Used along with PiumaCare it’s claimed to reduce by half the dryer cycles of duvets.
Emulsene F4: A complete enzymatic detergent developed specifically for shirts and table linen. Emulsene F4 also contains a high concentration of surfactants and speciality solvents to remove fatty stains.
Shirt Conditioner: A sizing agent for shirts to give firm soft finish to shirts. It can be used as a pre-treating agent also and it has been expressly developed to iron with ironing mannequin. It has a small concentration of optical brightener for UV protection and a high concentration of microcapsules for a long-lasting fresh fragrance.
Hydro Repellent: A waterproofing agent with nanotechnology effective at low temperature.
It is active with or without heat and it has waterproofing properties without the final drying. Oxon: An oxygen base stain remover and hygeiniser which is already active with low temperatures. Weaver says that where possible existing equipment would be reprogrammed, “otherwise we work with the customer to find suitable new equipment.”
AGS says that the smallest lagoon® Advanced Care system can be stacked so it can be used where space is limited.
Mary Simons, director at AGS, says her company is “totally committed to being as environmentally friendly as we possibly can, and this involves advising cus tomers regarding wet cleaning as an alternative to drycleaning.” She points to lagoon® Advanced Care by Electrolux as it is eco-friendly and is a solvent free system which promotes a healthier workplace – “the Electrolux system is the only one that AGS sells as we know it is the best on the market.” In her view, the newly launched Line 6000 is a boon for the technology as it “has even more research and development integrated into it.”
For Simons, lagoon® Advanced Care is a solution that cleans the majority of fabrics including those of a delicate nature with equipment that is easy to operate. It’s sustainable with no toxic chemicals as water is used as the solvent. She thinks that lagoon® Advanced Care will change the way a laundry cleans “with easy to learn procedures which dissolves cleaning bottlenecks.” lagoon® Advanced Care is sold in three different capacities with the smaller machinery cleaning around 70 items per day and the larger units cleaning up to 250 items. Coverage starts with 6kg and goes up to 33kg.
It’s also worth pointing out that, as Simons notes, even the smallest system can be stacked to save on space. For those new to the system, garments containing the wet cleaning care symbol – a circle with a W – work with lagoon® Advanced Care. But Simons says that there are three wet cleaning care symbols, one previously mentioned and the same with one or two lines under the W. “The initial W is professional wet cleaning normal process, with one line under the W means a professional wet cleaning mild process and the W with two lines underneath, a professional wet cleaning requires a very mild process.”
AGS likes to take customers considering lagoon® Advanced Care to an existing customer to see the system in daily use – “[at a showroom] you can see the process but you lose out on the intricacies that a working outlet provides,” says Simons. AGS has introduced its own range of wet cleaning detergents “that are extremely economically viable, and we are more than happy to show prospective customers how our range can transform the way wet detergents are used.”
One of Renzacci UK’s clients, Kingston-based Crown Tailoring & Dry Cleaning, moved away from traditional, solvent-based dry cleaning and has embraced the environmentally-friendly credentials of Electrolux Professional’s lagoon® Advanced Care wet cleaning.
Jason Alexander, managing director of Renzacci UK, says the company is “urging more dry cleaners to review environmentally-friendly processes as that’s one way they’ll be able to differentiate and generate more in this fiercely-competitive market.”
He understands that dry cleaners are reluctant to lose long-standing dry cleaning machines for what may seem a new cleaning technique, but he is confident that if they experience wet cleaning first-hand – “they would be amazed at how incredibly easy it is to process all types of garments.”
As Alexander points out – “we have clients who, straight after their onsite training course, are able to safely clean leathers, handbags, Ugg Boots, wedding dresses, silks and other delicate garments, as well as normal laundry such as duvets, linen and shirts – all in the same machine and for far less than it would cost in either a dry cleaning machine or standard laundry machine.”
Further, he says that there is no legal paperwork to fill in, no permits needed and no payments to licenced waste carriers to take away the sludge. Crown Tailoring & Dry Cleaning exemplifies this, reckons Alexander: “Their existing system had provided them with 10 years of quality and reliability, but following a demonstration at our showroom and testing facility they were wowed by the system’s ability to do both laundry and dry cleaning in the same machine, process more loads per day, and its eco-friendly credentials.”
As for the technologies, Electrolux’s lagoon® Advanced Care Essential Kit includes a WH6-6 lagoon® washer and TD6-7 lagoon® dryer. Alongside a large insulated door, the TD6-7 lagoon® dryer provides optimal air flow and accurate moisture measurements using a new residual moisture sensing system for perfect drying results. The WH6-6 lagoon® washer also has a selection of pre-set programmes for processing different garment types, including wools, silks and mixed fibres.
For Alexander, the hydraulic action is the killer feature: “The ProV’tex function allows for a smart hydraulic action that is highly effective, ultra-delicate and offers a higher loading factor – approximately 75 per cent. Coupled to the lagoon® efficient dosing system which ‘talks’ to the washing machine to determine automatically the load weight without any operator input, the solution is both highly energy-efficient only using what electricity and water is required, whilst also reducing detergent consumption.”
Following installation, Michael J Michael, Renzacci UK technical sales manager, ran a two-day training session to ensure staff were comfortable with the system’s functionalities. He said that the new system “cleaned the garment s beautifully and unlike their old dry cleaning machine, didn’t have any lingering chemical smells when removed from the drum.”
According to Girbau’s marketing manager, Jo Emmerson, cooler chemist r y and simple processes is the secret behind the company’s Clean Surf wet cleaning solution. She believes that “the Girbau and Ideal partnership combines the best cleaning power and efficiency with a genuine commitment to sustainability… this exciting laundry partnership brings together Girbau, with more than half a century of experience manufacturing innovative laundry equipment and Ideal with their eco-responsible wet clean detergent range and fierce sustainability goals.”
With Girbau’s processes and Ideal’s products, Emmerson says that professional textile care operators can “process delicate or embellished textiles with gentle care as well as effectively treat heavy soil levels that require more intense processing – all in one modern machine.”
Emmerson adds that “in 2019 we saw a substantial increase in interest in wet cleaning from unexpected customers, with the solution being introduced in a number of HM prisons laundry refurbishments in addition to a steady increase in independent boarding schools who were moving away from dry cleaning to wet cleaning.”
Girbau works with detergent partner Ideal to provide site relevant training and advice, to ensure customers get the best results on stubborn stains using the most ecological chemicals. “We have put together a thorough training manual combining expert knowledge and experience from many contributors and covering each process in detail, to help customers using the Clean Surf solution.”
A Clean Surf 2020 demonstrations calendar will be published soon with events to be held at Ideal’s Washeteria training facility in Finedon, Northants. Girbau UK says it offer a range of competitive finance packages to suit all customer needs. These include equipment rental with no capital outlay and fixed monthly payments that include machine maintenance and servicing.
Thomas Zeck, commercial director at Kreussler Textile Care, looks back to 1991 when Kreussler cooperated with Miele to ‘invent’ the original wet cleaning technology.
For Zeck, “Lanadol wet cleaning is still the benchmark – and if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Kreussler can feel very privileged indeed.” But in Zeck’s view, many of the procedures calling themselves wet cleaning are a far cry from the original principles.
He details that the most important insight for the development of the original wet cleaning process was to realise that most stains are actually water soluble, making pure water the ideal solvent for most kind of fabrics. “But there is a drawback – sensitive fibres like wool or silk swell up in water, potentially leading to shape changes, shrinkage or other damages.
The solution – a precise mix of purpose developed cleaning agents which use special colloids forming a protective film around each fibre, preventing any damage while keeping colours brilliant and texture smooth.” There is, says Zeck, another important component of true wet cleaning – a different mechanical process. “Many solutions which are nowadays offered as wet cleaning are just washing under a different name.
The original Lanadol wet cleaning, which can truly be used for almost all, even the most sensitive of fabrics, comprises the use of dedicated wet cleaning machines and matching drying technology.” He says that larger drums with special perforation and scoop ribs means that fabrics are treated much more gently than in normal washer-extractors.
For Kreussler, the obvious benefits of the original Lanadol wet cleaning is not only the use of water instead of solvent, but generally a sustainable profile. Says Zeck: “The cleaning agents are biodegradable and extremely concentrated, minimising resources. Only about six litres of water are needed per kilogram of wet cleaned fabrics, while about 95 per cent of all cleaned garments can be treated using the Lanadol DRY process, taking less than an hour from start to finish, including drying and finishing.”
He reckons that Kreussler’s latest wet cleaning invention Lanadol X-Press means that there is no need for pre-brushing most garments which avoids the risk of maltreatment by untrained staff. Zeck adds that “clients love the scent and feel of their cleaned textiles which keep their form as well as their colours.
Also, Lanadol ABAC, a disinfectant with a broad microbiocidal spectrum of activity, does not damage the delicate fabrics, therefore prolongs the life cycle of cherished clothes.” Zeck says that Kreussler does not rest on its laurels and is continuously perfecting its Lanadol products and processes “to provide a true 360° solution for present and future challenges in the laundry and dry cleaning market which manages to be both sustainable and economically sound.” He says that “it pays off to trust in the original.”
Lee Groves, general manager of DLS, says that he’s seen great advances in wetcleaning technology, noting that “the majority of our enquiries are now for wetcleaning systems as opposed to drycleaning, as everyone is now more than aware of the environmental impacts of solvents.”
DLS also sells the Electrolux lagoon® Advanced Care system and believes “it’s the best on the market… In recent years, the introduction of the lagoon® system has been revolutionary. It replaces the traditional dry cleaning system with ease and does not require any specialist finishing equipment.” He adds that the equipment can be used for laundry as well.
The system allows for extreme flexibility, a high load factor per cycle, low detergent consumption, and an ability to handle delicate textiles and garments. As Groves puts it, “being a water-based cleaning technique, it operates with simplicity of solvent based cleaning processes but in an eco-friendly way.” Lagoon® operates with three detergents and six pre-spotting agents to cover all the requirements of the most delicate textiles.
DLS uses lagoon® Advanced Care system in its working showroom. Groves says that “customers can try the system for themselves, with their own textiles, and get results within one hour.”
As for machinery, Groves recommends the new Electrolux Line 6000 series with the Clarus Vibe programming technology as it has an integrated weighing system which allows programming with minimum and maximum loads to optimise productivity. He says that the machine won’t start if there is too few or too many garments, therefore reducing costs; and the dryer, with its adjustable drum speed, can be set to dry delicate garments.
For Groves, lagoon® Advanced Care and the Line 6000 “blends all the innovations of the new range, with the utmost attention to textile cleaning quality and performance, typical of the Electrolux Professional wet cleaning tradition.” He adds that new functionalities will make a garment cleaning operation more profitable and easier to perform and emphasises that “the Woolmark Company endorsement certifies that your customers’ garments will enjoy the best available service in the market.”
“All in all,” says Groves, “in our opinion, the lagoon® Advanced Care system is the most eco-friendly, cost effective and dynamic of the wet cleaning systems on the market.”
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