Where to look

The range and age of equipment for sale will be considerable and there will be marked variations in asking prices. This will undoubtedly be a buyer’s market and while the best deal is likely to be found in buying directly from a cleaner who has closed down, don’t rush in where Angels fear to tread. Bear in mind that equipment may not have been properly maintained or may have been standing for a long time and there could be considerable engineering issues when it is recommissioned.

Therefore, buying second hand from a reputable supplier is likely to be the safest option particularly for cleaners without good hands-on electro/mechanical skills. Equipment bought through a supplier should come with a warranty. If it does not, my advice would be to walk away. Take a close look at the warranty making sure that you read the small print. It is also important to ask your supplier to confirm, preferably in writing, service back up details should you have to make a claim.

What to look for

If the equipment is not in a clean and tidy condition it’s probably not been looked after and properly maintained. Spotting tables even when relatively new can be in filthy condition if, as many have, they have been used for ‘soaping up’ and it can take hours of work, external and internal, to clean them. A good professional table should come with a stem/air gun, vacuum and a high pressure water spray, while some even have overhead lighting.

There are many types of rotor cabinets and garment formers. Tensioning formers with electric steam heating deliver by far the best standards of finish for a wide variety of jackets, coats and dresses while on the other hand rotor cabinets come with a trouser topper and cover a wider range of items.

Ironing tables should have controls on both sides as staff often have strong preferences regarding which side of the table to work and of course some staff are left handed. Steam heated irons are too cool for cellulosics (cotton and other natural fibres) and are less than adequate for wool/ polyester fabrics. So, go for a professional electric steam iron. Many tables are fitted with overhead lighting, a big advantage when it comes to quality finishing. Finally, If you are buying a cleaning machine from a cleaner get your engineer to go over it and give you an independent report.