Over the last 46 years that I’ve been working in the cleaning industry, I’ve always believed — and repeatedly proven — that hot water is the best ingredient to generally clean and sanitize soiled linen in a commercial laundry context.
If you’ve been studying the science of cleaning, you will have encountered the four principal factors of a successful wash all described in the Sinner Circle. To achieve a good wash, one must control chemicals, mechanics, time and temperature. Bringing up water temperature is one way to make an effective wash.
Advantages of hot wash
While one might argue that today’s detergents have been designed to work on cold water, detergents still generally activate more efficiently and effectively in hot temperature.
Hot water is also an effective way to kill off bacteria, which doesn’t happen in cold wash.
Many hotels use polyester, which is cheaper than cotton, for their linen. Polyester is best washed in hot water; otherwise, the linen will gradually turn gray.
Disadvantages of hot water
But there are also disadvantages, especially if you don’t use good quality water.
Hot water only works if you use soft water or water with low mineral content. In general, water from deep well (hard water) are the worst kind to heat and use in laundry. Magnesium and calcium, which are prevalent in hard water, crystalize into visible flakes on linen when heated.
Hot water also eats up a lot of energy that many small commercial laundry will not be able to afford.
In using hot water, the type of fabric must also be checked as some fabrics do not withstand high temperature and could potentially be damaged.
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