The development of water-based garment care is perfectly in line with the developments within the textile industry and consumer habits. A desire to offer customers more environmentally sensitive options is increasing the appeal of wetcleaning, particularly to new start-ups.

The laundry business is a very competitive market place and high street outfits are constantly looking at reducing costs but keeping standards high. Adding services and broadening their product offering is one way of staying ahead of the competition, says Richard Cole from Cole & Wilson.

Cole & Wilson, part of the international Christeyns detergents and chemicals group, are specialists in the development and supply of products for the cleaning of more delicate textiles, particularly in providing solutions for smaller laundry installations.

By introducing wetcleaning, launderers can offer an enhanced service for delicate fabrics, one that is kinder to the environment but also offers a smart use of machinery and chemicals, says Cole.

Cole & Wilson’s Pro-Fit portfolio offers a complete range of products for all cleaning requirements and incorporates the AquaWave wetcleaning system for safe and effective cleaning of delicate textiles.

Along with suits, dresses and special occasion wear, AquaWave can be used on items like Ugg boots and bags.

With Pro-Fit, it is possible to have a fully programmed system so that all laundry and wetcleaning work can be done in the same machine. “Pro-Fit provides the flexibility to clean a range of items, shirts, linen, duvets and many others but still offer the same consistently high level of cleaning whilst keeping costs down,” says Cole.

The specialist wetcleaning team at Cole & Wilson has been looking at how best to support customers moving into wetcleaning and has found that co-operation and a multi-faceted approach is the way forward.

By assessing each site individually, the team can provide a tailor-made solution to best fit each operation. Their aim is to help customers find a winning combination of machinery, programming and chemicals that will best suit their business and environmental goals.

The Cole & Wilson team will assist with pre-planning, explaining options, costs and benefits and making recommendations. They will then work with the preferred machine manufacturer to set up the system.

Cole & Wilson provides training on chemicals, dosing and specialist treatments, while the after care of the machines is looked after by the machine supplier.

“We have made our chemical offering clearer, in that all our Pro-Fit range of chemicals for laundry and wetcleaning are available from one supplier, direct from Cole & Wilson or our appointed distributor,” explains Cole.

The Christeyns team is available by telephone to offer advice and support on chemical usage, dosage and auto-dosing issues and carry out routine visits to customers. These visits include checks to confirm if any improvements can be made on programming or dosing and calculating what savings are being made. Cole & Wilson’s engineering team can also provide and fit Christeyns’ automated dosing system, Flux, which has a configuration to fit all types of outlet, whether for one or multiple machines.

Flux-Box and the new Flux Compact 2.0 are a perfect solution for hard-working smaller laundries, offering low maintenance and reducing wastage.

Cole & Wilson also provides training to new starters or existing customers that require full training refresher course on wetcleaning. The package can be tailored to individual customer needs. Training can incorporate stain removal, machine operation and finishing of garments.


Complete support package

Girbau UK offers a complete support package to its AguaSmart wetcleaning customers, guiding them through from an initial business plan and scheme design to long-term aftercare.

Girbau UK works very closely with its detergent partners Ideal Manufacturing to provide training and advice on the best use of wetcleaning chemicals and treatments.

There are regular AguaSmart wetcleaning demonstration events held at Ideal Manufacturing’s Washeteria training facility in Finedon, Northamptonshire.

Having worked successfully with operators big and small across the world, Girbau can offer a depth of both business and wetcleaning specific advice including comprehensive training on all the washing, drying and finishing equipment.

Girbau UK also offers a range of competitive finance packages to suit customer needs. These include equipment rental with no capital outlay and fixed monthly payments that include machine maintenance and servicing.

Renowned for its opulent luxury, distinctive style and faultless service, The Berkeley is a premier five star London hotel with 193 rooms and suites arranged over seven floors.

When the The Berkeley wanted to upgrade and enhance its guest laundry service by introducing a wetcleaning service, it opted for Girbau AguaSmart system. It comprises all the equipment a laundry needs to start a wetcleaning service including washers, dryers and finishing equipment.

Girbau installed two HS-6013 14kg-capacity and two 27kg-capacity HS-6024 INTELI washers for wetcleaning delicate guest items requiring special care and attention. The same washers also process standard hotel laundry including towels, bath mats, monogrammed robes and specialist linen.

The INTELI washers have 20 pre-installed programs to meet a wide range of laundry needs, and can add a further 79 dedicated programs for wetcleaning and other applications.

An important feature is the Care Touch drum. This protects and preserves delicate wetcleaning fabrics and ensures a longer lifetime for everyday linens.

The Berkeley also appointed Girbau wetcleaning detergent partners, Ideal Manufacturing to provide a set of injected eco-friendly laundry liquids called Ecowash, along with Ahoy Spot, Ahoy Wash and Ahoy Finish for the wetcleaning process. The feedback from guests has been so positive that the hotel has had requests from guests to purchase product directly for their home use.


Investing in wet care

Demand within the professional textile care industry for green and effective alternatives to solvent-based cleaning has increased dramatically, says Phillip Armstrong, B2C segment manager at Electrolux Professional UK. A number already in the industry are migrating to wetcleaning either as an addition to their existing services, or by making a complete switch to the new system. “What’s most interesting, however, is that we’ve noticed another group of people quick to adopt wetcleaning,” he adds. “Higher demand for water-based cleaning has meant that more and more investors and entrepreneurs are looking to take advantage of the possibilities offered by wet care.”

“It’s incredibly important that any industry nurtures those just starting out within it,” says Armstrong. “With that in mind, we came up with a brand new way of financing the Electrolux Professional wetcleaning solution, 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.

Armstrong says the challenge for any manufacturer is to provide a process that is easy-to-use and will help businesses to achieve quick turnaround times. By building on its previous lagoon solution, the Electrolux 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 engineered 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 alongside their traditional method,” he adds.

Ben King of Elite Laundry Services is an ex-product designer from Maidstone, Kent, who moved into the drycleaning industry in early 2017. He came across Electrolux Professional’s lagoon Advanced Care wetcleaning system at an exhibition for prospective investors. After speaking to the manufacturer, he invested in a lagoon Evolution Set, made up of a 15kg washer and dryer, a 6kg washer and dryer for smaller items, and an ironing table. The equipment was up and running two weeks before the shop opened and King says: “There are a lot of people who work in London but live in Maidstone because of the short commute. They’re professionals who don’t want to pay London prices for their garment cleaning, so we could see the business opportunity in meeting the needs of those commuters.

“We’ve cleaned beaded wedding dresses and garments with acrylic feathers – items that other businesses couldn’t process – and all of them have turned out perfectly.

“If you’re already in the industry, I can’t see any reason not to switch to wetcleaning, and if you’re looking for a new business venture, then it’s not a difficult industry to get started in.”