Working effectively as a key part of the wash process29 April 2016
Tony Vince examines how laundry chemicals have become an essential element in the laundry process – for cleaning, destaining, disinfecting and finishing
With sustainability one of the key themes at this year's Texcare International show in June, the manufacturers of detergents and washing additives will demonstrate how the development of effective low-temperature processes is making a significant contribution to reducing energy consumption and strengthening the industry's credentials when it comes to environmental efficiency.
Chemical specialists are developing products that operate at low temperatures, providing more accurate dosing systems and are broadening their expertise to include energy and water management systems.
This expertise offered by chemicals specialists is an essential to a successful textile care operation. Laundries look to their detergent suppliers to deliver solutions that enable cost-effective washing without any loss in quality.
The detergent supplier acts more and more as a consultant for the whole laundry production process, says Kreussler of Germany, which has been offering energy saving and water filtering equipment for years.
The latest trend is the data collection during the washing process. Thanks to its in-house developed dosing equipment and software, Kreussler can monitor in real time the temperatures and pH of the entire wash process and store this data locally or remotely for validation. Wash batches that fail to meet customer specifications are rejected.
Kreussler has always been oriented towards developing eco-friendly, phosphate-free detergents that are both high performance and can be easily combined in eco-friendly processes, according to Dr. Helmut Eigen, managing director of Kreussler Textile Care Division. These processes include Kreussler's Ecosan 50 for tunnel washers (50C wash temperature, 3-4l/kg of fresh water consumption), Derval Protect for workwear (5-8l/kg of water consumption, with a 20% time saving), and Kreussler Lanadol for wetcleaning (for optimum results at 20-30C).
Kreussler notes that textiles are changing and the use of mixed fabrics is increasing. Textile manufacturers have added more polyester to fabric blends so laundries are encountering more problems with greying.
The greater use of synthetic fabrics requires the use of more complex surfactants to clean the garments. Cotton fabrics swell when the wash bath has a high pH and this feature assists in soil removal.
Synthetic fibres do not have this property. Kreussler developed with Derval Protect a special surfactant booster for the thorough removal of oil and grease from blue workwear or protective clothing. Derval Protect gives excellent results at a low pH of 8.5 and at 55C.
Kreussler has also developed Derval Bright, a surfactant booster that contains an optical brightener for polyester fibres. This is intended for white garments, particularly white workwear, and is also suitable for table linen and hotel laundry,
The company points out that other products contain just optical brightener for cotton fibres, which does not have a whitening effect on polyester fibres. This becomes visible when garments made of polycotton are washed regularly.
The portion of cotton fibre, where the normal optical brightener is active, will decrease over the period of time and the polyester portion increases. If a product does not have a brightener dedicated for polyester, the whole garment turns greyish and unsightly. Kreussler says that using Derval Bright will prolong the usage of the garments because the garment stays whiter for longer.
Andrew Thompson, managing director at CHT UK, says that the launderer's continuing need to use less water and energy has resulted in the development of more complex and sophisticated chemical products.
Detergents are being designed to provide low temperature emulsification and suspension with the minimum amount of foaming.
He also explains that environmental legislation has also demanded changes in the chemistry used for laundry processes. The use of new synthetic fabrics requires that careful consideration should be given to the chemistry used in the wash process. In his view, inappropriate chemical use on synthetic fibres will result in poor soil removal and poor finishing in the ironer.
Referring to the "Sinner's circle" (time, temperature, mechanical action and chemical action), he says that the removal of temperature from the wash process requires additional chemicals or mechanical action to replace the void within the cycle.
"This is not resolved by simply adding more traditional chemicals," says Thompson. "The new products fill the void by using more efficient chemistry."
Consideration for the environment and the sustainability of the wash process is a growing concern. Like the paper and textile industry, the laundry industry is under increased pressure to remove AOX (adsorbable organic halogens) from the waste water. This is to prevent an accumulation of halogens in the food chain.
In order to address the problems of damage to both the fabric and the environment, CHT/Bezema has invested heavily in developing its Smart Blue Active Technology, which is free from both chlorine and peracetic acid.
This system dramatically reduces chemical damage to cotton fibres and, as such, extends linen life. The Smart Blue Active process provides secure disinfection without having to use sodium hypochlorite or peracetic acid. It is safe for the operators to use and still produces high quality whiteness with excellent stain removal properties. It can also be used on colours.
CHT describes the new booster technology as vital to its aim of removing sodium hypochlorite or peracetic acid this year.
Up to now, classic booster technologies used substances that could lead to a build-up of so-called "radicals", so creating risk of fibre damage. Smart Blue Active does not produce radicals, so that it acts like a fibre "protector".
In addition, CHT has developed two detergents Beiclean Natural and Beiclean MK.
Beiclean Natural produces excellent washing results and is based on sustainable products for its manufacture rather than on traditional petrochemical-based alcohol ethoxylates. Beiclean MK is suited to the neutral washing of workwear that requires laundering at neutral pH values (instead of the highly alkaline ones usually employed) to prevent damage to reflective strips.
CHT has also introduced Beisoft AG, a conditioner/softener that delivers an anti bacterial effect to prevent unpleasant odours developing on treated products, for natural or synthetic fibres.
Büfa of Germany will use Texcare International to demonstrate its expertise in both the drycleaning and laundry sectors. Its latest disinfecting laundry processes deliver not only in terms of cleanness, brightness and textile care but also in cost effectiveness. Büfa has added to its range of laundry products with the introduction of Ozerna Polar. This low temperature (40C) coloured detergent was developed specially for the professional treatment of washable outer wear and for workwear, including as personal protective equipment (PPE), although Büfa points out that it is highly suitable for the treatment of restaurant and hotel linen.
The company points out that Ozerna Polar, when used in combination with Büfa's Lizerna Sept, meets the stringent regulations of RAL-GZ 992/4 (textiles from care home residents). The process is acknowledged by the German Robert-Koch-Institute as a disinfecting washing process according to IfSG (the German Infection Protection Act).
Ecolab works with laundries worldwide to achieve the best overall results in the most cost effective and efficient manner. The move to lower temperature washing means that more chemical action is required to remove contamination. This does not necessarily mean that more chemicals are needed, but that a different type of chemistry is required, says Ecolab.
Ecolab has developed OxyGuard40™ as a low temperature wash system designed specifically for customers in the hospitality sector. It combines the latest developments in terms of chemistry and compounds effective from 40C upwards, to offer laundries processing hotel and restaurant linen what is probably the best quality finish at the lowest operating costs, combined with the minimum environmental impact.
Ecolab says that the Oxyguard40 program provides commercial laundries and their customers with five key benefits - maximum whiteness, reduced energy consumption, extended linen life, colour maintenance and sustainability.
OxyGuard40 is specially developed to meet the Ecolabel criteria, which ensures environmental protection at every stage of its lifecycle from manufacture right through to cleaning performance. The EU Ecolabel Directive DE/039/002 is the only official ecological certification valid throughout the European Union. Delivered by independent organisations, the Ecolabel guarantees the ecological quality of the product throughout its lifecycle and ensures product performance.
At Ideal Manufacturing, Mike Kalli says that the commercial laundry industry has seen some dramatic transformations in the last thirty years, notably as a result of acquisition, the de-skilling of processing personnel and automation. "We have seen a transformation in the way laundry chemicals are managed," says Kalli. "Washrooms have become reliant on liquid dosing systems that are managed and serviced by an external supplier. Increased automation has resulted in operators and laundry production staff acquiring a "push-button" mentality."
He argues that suppliers increasingly offer contracts that include injection systems for their complicated range of liquid ancillary products. In almost all commercial laundry organisations, the move has been towards liquid products automatically injected in accordance with the programming discretion and control of the supplier.
Kalli believes that laundries can now achieve the best quality consistently by using an efficient, reliable powder injection system.
"Our thinking on the way to achieve the optimum chemistry for the best interest of the commercial laundry has changed and we have returned to the use of powder technology."
Ideal believes that washrooms can achieve the best quality consistently by engineering an efficient, reliable powder injection system. Just one powder - Ideal's Professional Plus (Pp) - and a gentle sour are sufficient for good results on most classifications.
Professional Plus (Pp) is a free flowing powder for both manual and automatic feed through the Ideal Powder Injection System. It has a cool, fresh fragrance, built-in oxidising agent, accelerated destainer as well as effective suspension and anti-redeposition characteristics.
Initially aimed at larger commercial laundry plants, Ideal says that Professional Plus (Pp) also has wider application in smaller laundry situations.
As far as washing at lower temperatures to achieve an acceptable visible clean result goes, there is no real problem nowadays as the technology exists.
Kalli explains that Ideal is fully aware of the specialist needs of sanitation when washing at lower temperatures and has developed products and processes that meet the stringent requirements for hospitals, nursing homes and care homes. The need to ensure sanitary conditions at the end of the wash process when thermal disinfection is not possible due to impact on fabric strength or character has led Ideal to create a new final rinse disinfectant product.
Ideal has formulated a complete range of detergents. To add to its existing professional liquid laundry range, which already includes Detergent Plus, Ecowash LT Liquid, Solar and Prime, Ideal recently added its latest effective, economic and versatile product - Detergent K.
"We can now formulate products that can remove soil and stains at lower temperatures and it's all about validation of processes that meet specific standards of bacterial and spore kill, this is all in hand," says Kalli. "Our exploration in this area is leading towards low temperature powder detergents that can fulfil the requirement for effective soil and stain removal and provide an effective sanitary finish."
Ideal also recently unveiled a Calculator App for Laundry Chemicals (ICALC), a web-based application that accurately projects laundry customer product usage and calculates weekly, monthly and annual costs
ICALC generates information to assist customers in making accurate stock forecasts.
It also enables Ideal technical service personnel to respond quickly to laundries by providing bespoke, accurate and clear quotations to demonstrate potential savings that can be achieved.