Splashing out on a sustainable alternative

25 July 2017

Using water rather than the chemicals associated with drycleaning, wetcleaning is said to deliver provide superior results, efficiency and productivity. Tony Vince examines current developments

Industry studies have already shown that the development of professional wetcleaning is perfectly in line with the developments within the textile industry and consumer habits. As more and more fabrics become suitable for cleaning in water-based systems rather than solvent, it is little wonder that wetcleaning has become the current buzz word in the industry.

Wetcleaning was developed in the 1990s with the sole goal to develop a cleaning process that effectively cleaned all garments through a safe and biodegradable detergent process – a process that was truly ‘green’.

Earlier this year, Electrolux Professional announced its partnership with Renzacci UK, making the Middlesex-based company a Platinum Strategic Partner of Electrolux’s lagoon Advanced Care wetcleaning system. The partnership was officially launched at Renzacci’s Feltham showroom in March, giving customers an opportunity to see exactly how lagoon Advanced Care and the support of two major laundry specialists could change their business for the better.

Phillip Armstrong, B2C segment manager at Electrolux Professional UK, says that with so much happening in the Professional Textile Care (PTC) industry at the moment – from fears around business rate rises to the knock-back of an apprenticeship scheme in the UK – Electrolux knows how vital it is that garment cleaning businesses maximise profitability.

He explains that following the launch of lagoon Advanced Care last year, Electrolux had spoken to several owners who were keen to offer a greener alternative to drycleaning, but couldn’t necessarily afford to purchase new equipment outright. “It got us thinking, and we decided to focus on helping as many businesses as we could to benefit from a system we are extremely proud of,” he said. “We came up with is a way of financing lagoon Advanced Care on a monthly basis.

Called Cost Per Cycle, the fully-comprehensive package includes equipment, servicing, detergents and installation. Cleaning operations can get their hands on a new lagoon system and, crucially, can start making profit from it straight away. It equates to £2 per cycle, thanks to fixed running costs that mean businesses can achieve up to 97% profitability from the equipment.

Quality and productivity

Armstrong says that the challenge for any manufacturer has always been to provide a process that is easy-to-use and will help businesses to deal with quick turnaround times. He explained that by building on its previous lagoon solution, the new system taps into the potential of water-based garment care to ensure quality and productivity can be achieved in an eco-friendly way. “The lagoon Advanced Care system has been designed to allow garment cleaning businesses to get even the most delicate garments from dry to dry in under an hour, meaning there’s no compromise on productivity,” he says.

Electrolux also recognises that not all customers are aware of wetcleaning as an alternative, which means drycleaners are reluctant to replace their entire operation. “We’ve tried to anticipate this, by engineering lagoon Advanced Care as a compact system that fits into the vast majority of existing operations without the need for any extra finishing equipment, as well as making sure the machines also function as standard washers and dryers when the full system isn’t required.

“We’ve developed a 6kg Essential Set, which is a perfect accompaniment to any drycleaning business wanting to provide wetcleaning along-side their traditional method,” he adds.

Perfecting the partnership

Although there’s a growing interest in wetcleaning, Armstrong acknowledges that Electrolux needs the support of its network of distribution partners to carry those messages of sustainability and profitability. “We entered into a partnership with Renzacci UK, whose experience in helping businesses to adapt their offering to greener processes has already proved invaluable,” he said. Renzacci’s Feltham showroom will be hosting two demonstration days this year.

“There has already been a number of success stories who have either switched to lagoon Advanced Care or added it to their range of services through Renzacci, so we will also be working with them throughout 2017 to showcase their stories and explain to business owners how we can help them,” he adds.

Introducing Agua Smart

Girbau UK recently launched Agua Smart, its complete professional wetcleaning system for cleaners and laundry businesses. Agua Smart comprises all the Girbau equipment needed to start a wetcleaning service and a full range of expertly formulated finishing and pre-treatment detergents from Ideal Manufacturing.

Girbau UK teamed up with Ideal to demonstrate the Agua Smart system to companies and individuals at Ideal’s manufacturing base in Finedon, Northamptonshire, in January and gave visitors an opportunity to learn about the technology and expertise behind Girbau’s Agua Smart wetcleaning system and to see it in operation.

The Girbau Agua Smart equipment range includes washers and dryers, spotting tables, steam generators, finishing tables, presses, garment formers, trouser toppers and shirt machinery. Girbau’s 6 Series INTELI washers are ideal for wetcleaning and its ED Series energy efficient dryers are designed to dry delicate items safely, efficiently and cost-effectively. Both include a full range of wetcleaning and laundry programs, giving them the flexibility to use for general laundry and wetcleaning, helping to ensure maximum productivity from all types of work.

Among the first to adopt the new Girbau Agua Smart system were National Dry Cleaners. Founded in 1897 and based in Nottingham, they have an established reputation for high quality cleaning and outstanding customer service. Led today by Adrian Redgate, the great grandson of founder Henry Redgate, it remains a family business. The company has an excellent working relationship with some of Nottingham’s top fashion and bridal brands as well as retail outlets.

Leading fashion guru Paul Smith and double Michelin starred restaurateur Sat Bains are among National Dry Cleaner’s well-known customers.

Expertise and attention to detail have been the main contributing factors to National Dry Cleaners’ long-term success. Techniques and technologies of cleaning have changed immeasurably over more than 100 years and the company has always been a leader in adopting new solutions to keep pace with changing fabrics and customer needs, including wetcleaning.

“Drycleaning is changing,” according to Adrian Redgate, director at National Dry Cleaners. “Wetcleaning is better for water based staining and although it requires pre-treatment, greater stain removal results can be achieved. It removes stains more quickly and is ideal for things like perspiration and drinks stains. It is also very good for delicate items with beads and trimmings, where it is much gentler. So, it complements our drycleaning service.”

National Dry Cleaners initially purchased a Girbau HS-6017 Inteli washer, which it uses for wetcleaning, wedding dresses, suede and leather as well as for regular laundry work, so ensuring maximum versatility and productivity. The firm also purchased a Girbau HS-6023 washer, which it uses sheets, pillow cases, duvet covers and duvets. It also has a steam-heated Girbau Pro Series II GU050 dryer with the moisture control settings for drying wet cleaned items.

“We chose Girbau for the high build quality and reliability of their machines, combined with the very good price. The controllability, especially of the Inteli machine was also a factor. They are easy to programme and making adjustments is easy too. We’ve developed several variations of the wetclean programs for the different materials we process.”

National Dry Cleaners recently purchased a second HS-6017 Inteli washer and new electric ED 460 electric dryer to increase wetcleaning capacity.

“We’ve found Girbau dryers are very controllable. The different humidity settings are ideal for different fabrics and help us to prevent overdrying and shrinkage,” says Adrian Redgate.

“Girbau has been very supportive and helpful from the beginning of the buying cycle through to installation and maintenance of the machines,” he added. “We have an excellent relationship with them and they are truly a pleasure to deal with.”

Pressing Needs in Southampton also uses Girbau equipment for wetcleaning and Malcolm Jenvey, director of Pressing Needs in Southampton, adds: “Wetcleaning is an easy-to-use system. We find it works well for everything from standard suits to intricate stage costumes. The gentle action protects the fabric, colours appear brighter and customers comment on the feel and fresh smell.”

Pioneering the WetCare system

Miele Professional celebrated 25 years of the WetCare system last year. Together with Kreussler, Miele pioneered the system, making great progress in improving gentle fabric care and finishing performance. Since then further advances in technology and chemicals have ensured that a large proportion of textiles can be washed using the WetCare system.

Miele’s washing machines and tumble dryers with their patented honeycomb drum protect the garment fibres. Using biodegradable detergent, low water consumption and a gentle action, stains are removed easily and effectively while saving energy, preserving fabrics and leaving them smelling fresh.

The system has been developed further to eliminate hanging time after the drying cycle. Now the garments spend 25 minutes in the washing machine, 30 minutes drying, and can then go straight onto the finishing equipment, meaning garments can be effectively processed within an hour.

Miele has developed a national Partnership programme across the UK. Miele Professional Approved WetCare Partners offer pre sales advice to interested customers; install and commission machines; provide training; and after sales advice and support.

It also offers a launch pack of marketing materials for sites taking on the system aimed at informing the customer about the WetCare process.

Wide range of textiles

Büfa Cleaning Systems, the Germany-based chemicals manufacturer, has introduced its new wetcleaning system. Büfa claims that Care 4.0 will allow a wide range of textiles to be cleaned in one load – for example, outerwear, such as suits with a high wool component or challenging cashmere articles, high-quality delicates and linen from care or nursing homes, table and kitchen linen as well as staff uniforms from hotels and duvets.

The operating schedule is considerably simplified and the overall process time is reduced to 60 minutes. Pre-sorting of material by composition or weight of textile is no longer necessary as an operator needs only sort into light coloured and dark coloured items.

Büfa Care 4.0 is a combination of an optimal cleaning and drying process with special designed products. It is based on four key products: Ozerna Polar as a powerful liquid colour detergent; Lizerna Carat as a new developed refiner; Lizerna Citro as a neutraliser; and Lizerna Conditioner as a high-performing finishing agent.

These additives result in 30% less product consumption and minimisation of the process time, said Pamela Krix from the R&D department of Büfa. Even challenging or delicate textiles are cleaned, gentle dried and finished with less effort within one hour.

The entire programme cycle is oriented to maximum protection of the textiles. The drum stands still as the water runs in: the protective function of Lizerna Carat is already active when the mechanical processing starts. The reduction of water and agents coupled with short, high mechanical activity allows a very good washing effect. “We improved not only the cleaning performance but also the protection against shrinkage, felting, colour loss and wrinkle formation,” says Krix. “Damages of the textile fibres, of the forming and of the colours are virtually eliminated. This new process will convince everybody.”

Innovative chemicals

Cole and Wilson, part of the Christeyns family, produces Aquawave, laundry liquids sold under the Pro-Fit range of products. AquaWave is a combination of innovative chemicals and a balanced cleaning process that when used in a wetcleaning machine, provides outstanding results. For delicate wetcleaning the Aquawave process is designed to clean and protect dry clean only items with the full process taking just 60 minutes. Pro-fit Wool is a gentle detergent that cleans and freshens garments, keeps colours bright and protects delicate fibres. It contains the latest generation of surfactants and its high lanolin content provides a natural protection layer for wool fibres.  It can be used with temperatures as low as 20C and reduces the wearing down of silk.

Pro-fit Body is a liquid finishing agent used in the second stage to give body to garments and to protect fibres during the drying process, it also helps stop shrinkage. It reduces wrinkling, facilitates ironing and restores the shape and touch to the most delicate fabrics. One other noticeable benefit is the fresh scent remaining on the garments after drying.

Traditional wetcleaning methods demand a substantial amount of finishing due to wrinkling. AquaWave solves this problem with its dry-to-dry technology whereby textiles are perfectly cleaned but much less wrinkled, thus reducing the process time. The Pro-fit range is now in use in over 1,000 cleaners worldwide and has been installed successfully in all common wetcleaning machines available in the market.


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