Linen rental businesses have a strong card up their sleeves when it comes to encouraging restaurants to use linen table cloths and napery – enhanced hygiene.

As the hospitality industry considers how best to prepare for re-opening, health and safety of staff and customers will be top of the agenda. This will include the physiological barriers and fears that many people may have when it comes to eating out again in terms of what is clean and what is not.

One recent study has shown that bare tables in restaurants are fifth on the list of ‘Dirtiest Places in Restaurants’, scoring ahead of toilet door handles and taps.  Tablecloths, however, can provide a five-times-cleaner surface and are touched only at the corners by the server laying the cloth and by the incumbent restaurant guests.

“Nothing says clean more than pristine, white table linen,” says Christeyns UK Operations Director Justin Kerslake. “To achieve a hygienically clean environment in restaurants, reusable tablecloths and napkins could be used on a wider scale, to prevent cross-contamination from bare table-tops and surfaces.”

There have been various studies that have shown table surfaces can harbour germs, providing a breeding ground for microscopic bacteria, if not cleaned correctly. This means germs may still be present once the table or surface has been wiped down between diners. Hygiene measures will without doubt become more stringent in bars and restaurants to help avoid this but in the mind of a customer, seeing a fresh set of hygienically laundered linen can provide peace of mind as well as preventing contamination.

In addition, reusable linen is far more sustainable than disposable paper placemats and napkins, and if laundered correctly will stay looking pristine for four years or more. It is worth noting that paper and cardboard account for one fifth of all waste produced in the UK*.

The setting of tables with linen can also act as a subtle marker to guests and to staff as to which tables are available for use.  With social distancing measures, it could indicate seating availability without the need for alternative signage or garish ‘don’t sit here’ notices.

By outsourcing the cleaning and provision of the table linen to commercial laundries which are specialised in washing and disinfecting, the hospitality industry can feel sure that their table hygiene is taken care of whilst they focus on what they are good at: serving their guests.