Case Study 2: Eco-friendly Laundry Cleaning
Posted on February 26, 2015
Company 2 is a large hotel servicing a nearby airport who has noticed their customer base becoming more interested in green living. In addition, they had also wanted to minimize risk to their staff from hazardous chemicals to control rising liability costs. As such, they have been making changes to their cleaning chemicals and got to their On-Premise Laundering facility. Company 2 contacted us to see if it was possible to eliminate dangerous chemicals as much as possible in their laundering processes.
Beginning with the Needs Analysis, we created a priority list of their objectives:
- Green Detergency
- Elimination of Chlorine Bleach
- Retain high stain removal rates
- Addition of Pleasant fragrance to linens after wash
- Reasonable Pricing
Company 2 had discovered through their own analysis of Customer Satisfaction was increasingly becoming tied to staying at a “green” hotel, as well as having a clean and fresh scent in their rooms during their stay. Customer satisfaction is a top priority to this responsive company. Liability risks associated to workers exposed to harsh cleaning chemicals had also been making an increased impact in the cost of insurance for their On-Premise Laundering facility. It was determined that if they could retain their laundering system while minimizing insurance costs, it would be more cost effective versus outsourcing to a laundering service.
So our mission at that point was to reduce the amount of risks associated with their current laundry cleaning chemicals, as well as keep the price competitive.
Starting with the detergent, we took a nonionic starting formulation (matched to their existing detergent) and screened it for Green ingredients. We achieved a 98% Green formulation, which was satisfactory to our clients.
Replacement of the chlorine bleach was fairly straightforward as is known in the industry to be either a oxygen bleach or o-zone generation systems. To keep the cost of investment minimal, they preferred the oxygen bleach.
A pleasant scent was applied to an eco-friendly softener formulation to help convey a lightly noticeable after-scent to each load of laundry. Finally the chemicals used for spot-treating stains prior to washing were replaced by eco-friendly versions to ensure that exposure to hazardous chemicals was minimal from start to finish.
Our product group was applied to the On-Premise Laundry System, comprised of a series of front load institutional grade washers ranging from 15lb to 50lb each. Chemical Products were delivered via automatic injection pumps, adjusted for approximate loads and soiling rates.
We decided to test each product separately to determine gather data on performance in order to minimize problems in their work-flow, as this was a functioning hotel and needed to keep their linens in view of customers regularly. This meant were couldn’t just drop in our products and leave the scene.
Performance testing was studied for the detergent first. Analysis revealed an average 50% stain removal rate, which was inadequate. Brightness was apparently less, as articles appeared dingy. More lab work was required to adjust for their needs. Outcome: Failure.
Performance testing for the oxygen bleach showed it was about 25-45% less effective compared to the chlorine bleach, as was expected, since wash temperatures would reach only 105F. Typical oxygen bleach temperatures are recommended anywhere from 140F to 160F. A properly performing detergent however would help minimize problems associated with a lower wash temperature, however. Outcome: Failure.
Performance testing for the softener yielded good results in regards to feel, anti-static properties, and after-wash scent. Sniff-testing by workers indicated the scent was a little light, so results were noted and formula would be adjusted. Outcome: Success.
Our collection of spot-treating chemicals was instituted and worked, however the high amount of stains and overall appearance of the fabrics provided by our detergent did not provide a good ground for testing the spotters.
Information from our field testing was evaluated to give us a better picture as to why we would have such low rates of success. Lab testing on materials obtained from our client indicated that performance would be greater using an anionic base formulation, rather than a nonionic, given the types of materials being treated. We applied a standard anionic base formulation, and screened for Green ingredients. Once again we were able to reach a 98% Green formula, but this time the components were roughly 90% Renewable Resource based which was an extra bonus for Company 2. We also added a Green brightener to the formula that should help improve visual appearance.
The oxygen bleach was not modified.
The softener formulation was adjusted for increased scent as per our prior evaluation.
Spot-treating group was left unmodified.
Field Testing Part 2
We followed a similar pattern of testing as our prior field test, starting with the detergent.
Performance testing for the revised detergent indicated a 90-95% stain removal rate, which was on par with their previous detergent’s rates. Visually, the articles appeared brighter as well. Outcome: Success.
Performance testing for the Oxygen Bleach indicated an enhancement to the overall brightness and stain removal provided by the detergent, as was expected. Results were on par with prior chlorine bleach system. Outcome: Success.
Performance testing for the softener again yielded excellent results in regards to feel and anti-static properties. Sniff-testing of the after-wash scent was increased. The scent was approved by workers and management. Outcome: Success.
Performance testing for the Spot-treating indicated that nearly 100% of stains treated were removed prior to or after washing. Outcome: success.
Typically when companies institute a Green chemical cleaning program, they expect prices to rise which inhibits companies from making the transition. This study however provided a great case as to why they might want to reconsider.
In the end, Company 2 achieved their main goals of lower risk and better customer satisfaction, however they were also surprised to find that even the chemicals themselves were costing less. In addition the lower insurance costs from instituting Green cleaning system, they also found that our detergent was approximately 5% less in cost than the competitor, and required less usage per wash cutting costs even more. An extra bonus was they had stopped damaging their fabrics by switching from the chlorine bleach to the oxygen bleach, saving almost 25% over their previous costs.
We were happy to help Company 2 meet their needs, and are always on the lookout for better ways to serve them and their clients. We appreciated the opportunity they gave us to develop and implement this system, and are always on call for their questions and ideas for the future.