Wetcleaning: Will 2021 be your time for change?

Jean Anderson reports

With many ‘diehard’ perc using drycleaners introducing wetcleaning systems in 2020, we’re predicting more will make the change in the coming year.

They may choose a full conversion to wetcleaning only, or add the service alongside various drycleaning solvents, including the ‘greener’ ones. Driving all this are cleaners managing to successfully wetclean a huge range of garments and fabrics alongside the continued introduction of advanced equipment. And then there’s the relentless drive to an eco-friendly future – and one that hopefully boosts cleaners’ income through lower energy bills and even increased custom from those who want to be as environmentally responsible as possible.

A 2019 sustainability report for the global media group Neilsen found “73 per cent of global consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.” This is great news for those hoping to boost their wetcleaning options, especially as 41 per cent were “willing to pay more for products that contain all-natural or organic ingredients.”

Lockdown aside, we at Laundry & Cleaning Today want to start 2021 on a positive note and celebrate the advances in wetcleaning. Here we remind you of the equipment, detergents, and other chemicals involved in wetcleaning and the latest developments in this continually growing area. Jean Anderson reports

AGS Limited

It is a dot on the card that more wetcleaning systems will be sold in 2021; it is the only way to go if you want to run an ethical business and be as green as you possibly can, says director Mary Simons of AGS Limited.

“At AGS we only sell one wetcleaning system and that is Electrolux’s lagoon® Advanced Care (LAC) which we know is the best on the market!”

LAC is sustainable with no toxic chemicals as water is used as the solvent. It will change the way you clean with easy to learn procedures which dissolves cleaning bottlenecks.

High productivity and improved loading factors with an enhanced cleaning action mean faster process times for a quicker return on investment, says Simons. “There is no limit to what you can clean with LAC and the dry-to-dry process allows garments to be ready in under one hour. There is minimal finishing as once garments are removed from the tumble dryer, they are virtually crease free.” Simons continues: “Some of our customers have decided to run the LAC system in line with their normal drycleaning business however the majority have completely dispensed with their drycleaning machine and are now totally wetcleaning and they have never looked back!” “LAC is a reliable solution that cleans 99 per cent of fabrics including those of a delicate nature with equipment that is easy to operate for you and your staff with reliable processes that ensure lasting business success.

“Obviously at AGS we provide full training by a company who operate a wetcleaning site not forgetting the ongoing support that is given to all customers that purchase LAC equipment from us.” Said Simons: “At AGS we hold large stocks of the majority of Electrolux laundry products as well as Electrolux wetcleaning detergents and are only a phone call away to assist you in deciding which road is the better one for your business to take!”

At AGS they only sell one wetcleaning system and that is Electrolux’s lagoon® Advanced Care.

Dane Realstar offers the complete package of wetcleaning machines and supplies

Dane Realstar

Dane Realstar stands behind what it believes in and actively demonstrates for the greater good: top quality machines that help our clients earn more. Wet and drycleaning processes complement each other to provide a complete garment cleaning package, says Dane’s Sheila Higgs. “Wetcleaning offers a safe, equally effective method of cleaning clothing that requires special care and attention.

Drycleaners can have a multipurpose laundry capability without financial impact to their customers and improve health and safety conditions for employees, customers and the community.”

Realstar and Aquastar have always been the innovative, industry leader in engineering new products to service the textile care industry – recognised worldwide for their emphasis on quality, ecology, low environmental impact and safety. Said Higgs: “We have a solution for every customer. It doesn’t matter how large or small your business is or what your requirements are: Aquastar can cater for them perfectly and provide you with a specific solution for every need. We offer much more than just equipment sales: we offer all-round comprehensive laundry solutions. “Our Aquastar range of washing machines and tumble dryers, paired with Fimas finishing equipment consists of state-of-the-art models designed for establishments of all kinds, from large hotel chains to small businesses.

“Our products are especially designed for the laundries where the quality of the process and the energy and water saving are a priority.” Whilst detergents are used in wetcleaning, the process does not require any solvents, customers instantly notice the fresh smell and soft feel, says Higgs. Colours are brighter and retain their original look. Options include auto-dosing and the ‘Waterfall Re-circulation System’ to enhance the wetcleaning process, by providing a gentle showering action on the garments. “Aquastar machines have all the latest design and operator interfaces including touchscreen displays. The design of the machines is most efficient for large capacity drums within a small design space. All the machines have normal washing programmes for regular laundry items and duvets,” said Higgs.

Aquastar tumble dryers can have moisture control for wetcleaning, to dry the garment to the required setting. “Dane Realstar has teamed up with Cole & Wilson and their Pro-Fit range of detergents, supplied by Lynx Dry Cleaning Supplies to offer the complete package of wetcleaning machines and supplies. “We have the right equipment for every process in the garment cleaning chain. We hold regular open day events; please contact us for details of the next planned date.”

MIELE PROFESSIONAL

From hotels increasing profitability by offering additional laundry services to theatre companies using it as cost-effective alternative to drycleaning to wash high value costumes, wetcleaning can be advantageous for any business, says Clare Humphrey, category manager at Miele Professional.

“At Miele, we’ve developed an original wetcleaning system for the gentle and environmentally friendly cleaning of textiles made from wool, cashmere, and silk as well as other sophisticated garments,” said Humphrey. “WetCare, which has been integrated into our professional washers and dryers for over 20 years, has also been awarded the highly prized ‘Blue Angel’ label – a certification given to products that are particularly environmentally friendly.

“Our new generation of Little Giants, a perfect solution for compact on-premise laundry, is an excellent example of how our wetcleaning system has been developed using Miele innovation. “WetCare is built into the Performance Plus washer and dryers, offering five specific programmes: sensitive, silks, intensive, disinfection and hygiene. The latter is especially important for infect ion prevention measures in a Covid environment.” Businesses including care homes, hairdressers, hotels and spas can also benefit from an extensive range of special programmes designed to treat garments gently while delivering a professional clean. Whether processing down-filled outerwear, lightweight curtains or even an oil-stained uniform, the Little Giants are designed to be economically efficient by only using the required water and energy levels, helping cut costs.

Said Humphrey: “Additionally, we offer an increased drum size of 8kg and have reduced cycle times with washes of only 49 minutes and drying of only 38 minutes, maximising laundry throughput. “To ensure garments are being laundered with the utmost care, the Little Giants range sets standards in gentle fabric care. The new patented honeycomb drum perfectly protects laundry during the washing and drying process. Textiles glide gently on a thin film of water while additional perforation in the rear drum panel provides thorough wetting and drenching.

“The new Eco Speed wash rhythm reinforces this by slowing down the drum speed so that the scoop ribs can transport as much water as possible to the top of the drum which rains down onto the load. At higher speeds, water and particles are rinsed out with greater force, providing reassurance that even the most delicate of items are washed thoroughly whilst guaranteeing the sparing use of resources.” Humph rey concludes: “Laundry managers can be confident that the Little Giants WetCare system has been designed for cost effective textile brilliance while going that extra mile to be gentle to the environment.”

Samuels of Shropshire worked with Renzacci UK to replace their 20-year-old drycleaning machine with a wetcleaning system which the owner said “is the best commercial decision I’ve ever made”

Renzacci UK

Drycleaners and laundries alike have taken one of their biggest hits in history; weddings, business trips, anniversary celebrations , proms, graduations and funerals were either paused or scaled back significantly amid the surge in infection rates.

Very quickly, shop owners nationwide saw business decline at an unprecedented rate, says Jason Alexander, managing director of Renzacci UK. “For many business owners, the country’s lockdown has given them time to reflect on their existing practices; looking into ways of implementing safer measures for customers and staff alike, whilst making their operation as profitable as possible post-lockdown,” said Alexander.

Renzacci UK, LADAs 2019 Machinery Distributor of the Year, has been working with a range of drycleaners, laundries and hotels throughout 2020, in a bid to futureproof their businesses through the introduction of a wetcleaning operation.

Alexander goes on to explain: “Over the past year, we’ve seen a marked rise in the number of drycleaners and laundries switching to wetcleaning, but in light of the ‘new normal’, there’s never been a more pressing time for business owners to follow suit with a safer, healthier form of cleaning, attracting new and environmentally-conscious clients with a truly innovative and progressive approach, whilst broadening their offering to the end user.”

In 2021, Renzacci UK expect to see a spike in sales of Electrolux Professional’s lagoon® Advanced Care 6000 series, which can process up to twice the number of items per hour and uses less water and energy than a standard drycleaning machine, making it much cheaper to run. Based on real-world usage from Renzacci UK customers, surveys have found it is 21 per cent cheaper to run a lagoon® Advanced Care cycle, compared to an equivalent sized drycleaning machine. In addition, if you take into account that a wetcleaning system can also process laundry, leathers and delicates, as well as traditional drycleaning garments, in one system, then the requirement for a split solvent-based and laundry system is removed, saving on capital expenditure, running costs, administrative time and legislation compliance. Samuels of Shropshire, a long-standing customer of Renzacci UK, replaced their 20-year-old drycleaning machine with a wetcleaning system prior to the Covid pandemic.

A company spokesman said: “Our new wetcleaning system is absolutely fantastic and has been a complete gamechanger. I am able to process far more loads per day and quicker, compared to my old drycleaning machine, which has massively reduced our production times, finishing times and importantly, also increased our capacity in both the laundry and traditional drycleaning side of our business. An all in one system with a footprint smaller than a drycleaning machine. “We’ve now completely moved away from traditional solvent-based drycleaning processes, which is the best commercial decision I’ve ever made.”

ELECTROLUX PROFESSIONAL

Laundry equipment has become increasingly sophisticated in its ability to offer a sustainable service and, as consumers become more eco-conscious, high street drycleaners must take this into account when weighing-up new equipment, says Mick Christian, regional training and demonstration manager for laundry, at Electrolux Professional.

“The biggest elephant in the room when it comes to the ‘green’ footprint of drycleaning equipment is of course, the chemicals; and more specifically, perchloroethylene (perc). “Both the negative health and environmental impact of perc have been well documented, yet many continue to view it as a necessary evil to the longevity of the professional textile care (PTC) industry.

That is simply not true,” said Christian. “As consumers become more educated on hazardous chemicals, laundry businesses will need to increasingly look at switching from traditional drycleaning to either alternative ecological solvents, or a completely solvent-free solution, such as wetcleaning.”

Indeed, research commissioned by Electrolux Professional found that for 70 per cent of high street consumers, environmental impact now plays some part in their purchasing habits; while over half (55 per cent) said they would request a chemical-free way to have their clothes cleaned if they realised such a service was available.

Said Christian: “Ultimately, businesses that offer this environmentally friendly method of laundry can be of higher interest to customers, as it creates a unique and sustainable selling point for their services. “What’s more, wetcleaning has never been easier to integrate into existing PTC operations, or even start up as a new entity from scratch. Electrolux Professional’s lagoon® Advanced Care series is available in three different sets, each suitable for different volumes.

“The Essential Set is a plug and play, single phase set-up that can be installed anywhere. Taking up less than 0.5m2, it can process up to 80 garments a day. “For large volumes, the Evolution Set can process up to 180 items a day, while the Absolute set is able to clean 250 garments each day. “Crucially, each set can be paid using a flat monthly fee which not only includes the units, but also installation, detergents and servicing. Ultimately, this effectively removes the need for any major capital outlay and opens up the technology to anyone wishing to integrate it into their business.”

Mick Christian of Electrolux Professional believes that businesses offering environmentally friendly wetcleaning can be of higher interest to customers

Ideal’s wetclean range consists of three products; Ahoy Spot, Ahoy Wash and Ahoy Finish – all supplied in PCR (post consumer recycled) packaging

IDEAL

Phillip Kalli , MD at Northamptonshire-based Ideal says: “We believe in a wetter future. We like it. We believe in it. We’ve seen how good the results can be… “We all have a choice. We have a choice as a detergent manufacturer.

We choose wet, because we’re specialists in the manufacture of laundry products. You have a choice as a professional cleaner.” Ideal has designed a set of products to ensure textiles look visibly clean and smell super fresh, using a blend of surfactants for brilliant soil removal at ambient temperatures.

Ideal’s wetclean range consists of three products; Ahoy Spot, Ahoy Wash and Ahoy Finish along with a final rinse sanitiser; Ahoy Clean and specialist leather and suede cleaning products; Howdy Fast and Howdy Salve.

Kalli continues: “We believe that wetcleaning is cleaner than drycleaning, much better at removing and suspending particulate and proteinaceous soils. We know that garments smell, look and feel better. It’s also safer to work with and the system offers real undisputable flexibility; you can still use the same machine to do loads and loads of laundry too. “There have been loads of articles published about how, when and who can claim to have first invented ‘wetcleaning’… To be honest, who really cares. It’s all about who’s doing it now. Who’s interested in making it relevant, affordable, cooler, better – and what is it going to take to reach that tipping point.”

Ideal recommend their DD Cool laundry disinfection and oxygen-based destainer for low temperature sanitation in the wetclean process. They say it offers safe bleaching and disinfecting performance at low temperatures and mild conditions – tackling stains at 20°C, saving energy and reducing wash process time.

As an alternative they suggest adding Ahoy Clean for hygienic wetcleaning in the final rinse as a manual addition. This is proven to work against bacteria. Ahoy Clean kills 99.9 per cent bacteria including MRSA at 40°C. It has been lab tested against S aureus, Ps aeruginosa, E coli, Ent hirae and MRSA.

All Ideal wetclean products are supplied in PCR (post consumer recycled) packaging. Kalli adds: “We are working on more radical solutions to help eliminate plastic waste in the laundry industry all the time. Watch this space! “We don’t make drycleaning solvents or detergents. For years now, we are totally committed to professional laundry and wetcleaning detergent technology and eco responsible household detergent supply. We are independent , family-run and 100 per cent committed to eco-responsible det e rgent formulat ion, manufacture and supply. We proudly make all our products at the Ideal factory in Northamptonshire.”

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