Launderers often look closely at the cost of the chemicals when deciding which products to buy or which supplier to use, but how often do they pay the same attention to the contribution chemicals can make to the quality of their service?

The end result should be the most important factor in the buyer’s mind as this will reflect on the quality of service the company provides to its customers. If it is not getting the right products or advice to produce the best results, it might consider changing supplier. It also needs to look at other factors such as environmental concerns.

According to Charles Betteridge at Christeyns, RABC systems to control biocontamination risks within the laundry are being installed rigorously across Europe in line with the EN14065 standard.

The Water Framework Directive (2000/60/ EEC) is also starting to have an effect as governments across Europe start to look to ways to enforce water reductions. With the certainty that water is going to get more expensive, laundries will look to the detergent suppliers for advice on cutting energy and water consumption.

Betteridge says there are a number of reasons for a slight decline in the total detergent market. Increasingly more linen is being washed in tunnel washers, which have lower dosage rates than washer-extractors. One reason for this is the market consolidation leading to more high-volume laundries.

The evolution of better tunnel washer machinery, capable of washing all classifications, sometimes with lower dosages is having an impact.

Environmental and financial controls are bringing about reductions in chemical usage. In the first instance, water recycling via basic filtration or simply via reuse tanks, can lead to savings in chemicals as well as in water.

Some of the smaller launderers are simply cutting dosages to save money. This generally has a negative impact as quality then also declines, but some at the lower end of the market seem to accept this.

Degreasants capable of working at slightly lower temperatures have been introduced by most companies and liquid detergents have seen some improvements.

Betteridge also says that what the customer requires from a chemical supplier is changing.

Technological progress has been significant in recent years and, while the choice of detergent still matters, the washing process is far more important in terms of water and energy consumption, textile life and end user acceptance.

Increasingly, complex materials are being used for PPE or surgical items and the washing process has to take account of this to ensure the required wash result in terms of cleanliness, hygiene, lack of chemical damage and cost.

The high hygiene requirements of the food sector and care homes represent growth opportunities for the laundry sector but also challenges for the detergent supplier. Increasingly peracetic acid based processes are being used to ensure disinfection.

New EU biocide regulations tightly control the manufacture of this disinfectant bleach and only the main detergent manufacturers may be able to comply with these says Betteridge.