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Turning Up The Thread Count – What You Need To Know

The hospitality industry has been turning up the thread count in sheets and towels.  Duvet covers on thick pillow top mattresses have also been finding their way into once “traditional” hotel closets. 

The lure of luxury and an evening of comfort is the new form of hotel competition. But the ability to supply these plush towels and higher count linens is only one side of the coin.  The other is the ability to launder these items successfully and economically.

What does upgrading linens mean for the laundry department?

Plenty.  These new, upgraded linens must withstand institutional washing and do so within the economic constraints of the laundry department.  That’s why it is important for housekeepers and laundry managers to be part of the decision making process when upgrading to better quality beds and textiles. 

Chick Ojeda, Director of Housekeeping and Doreen Macklin, Wardrobe Laundry Manager of the Trump Marina Casino and Hotel share how higher thread counts affected their operation at the Atlantic City hotel which processes goods for 728 guests.

The Trump Marina Casino and Hotel laundry processes textiles from housekeeping, maintenance, public care, table linen (with the exception of round cloths) and linen from the back of the house. Dry cleaning work and round cloths are outsourced

With the upgrading of house linens, Trump Marina Hotel and Casino has purchased all new mattresses with zippered pillow tops that can be unzipped and taken off the mattress and laundered. Washing these pillow tops reduces dust mites that cause allergies, says Ojeda. The bottom of the pillow top is made of Dupont Teflon, which protects the mattress from liquids.

New upgraded sheets and pillowcases which were purchased last April have a T250 thread count and are 70% cotton / 30% polyester fabric, says Macklin.  The old thread count for sheets was T180 percale and they were comprised of 50% cotton and 50% poly.

Another important difference in the new goods is the size of the sheets.  The new satin striped sheets are much larger than the previous sheets, which were being laundered in the facility.  The new sheets measure 105” x 125”, whereas the traditional measurement 90” W x110”.  

Where Are The Challenges?  
New linens posed several processing challenges.  One large hurdle that needed to be overcome was that they were much more difficult to feed.  Sheets had to be perfectly centered when fed into the ironer for proper processing and that was difficult and time consuming.  Additionally, the Trump laundry also found that they had to reduce the ironer speed from 125 feet per minute to 75 feet per minute.  The running time for king sheets previously was 17 seconds.  The new sheets take approximately 50 seconds to finish.

Taking both the additional time to center and the slower ironer speed into consideration – a higher quality of sheets was now taking longer to process.

Another unexpected problem occurred with ironing the new sheets because the extra length caused the sheets to flip off the belts. The laundry designed their own solution to this challenge.  A method of using two air blowers to force the trailing edge down so the sheet would go all the way through the ironer was designed to alleviate that problem.

Trump Marina found a unique way to cut down on labor for housekeeping using duvet covers. They designed a combination comforter and duvet cover by having the striped satin sheeting fabric sewn completely around a polyester comforter. If the product gets stained, it is not discarded.  A new cover is sewn around the stained piece.

Things To Consider If You Will Be Processng Luxurious Linens
There are certain things to take into consideration if your facility is starting to process luxurious linens. With towels, analyze your drying and washing capacity before purchasing heavier and larger bath towels.  You will not be able to get the same quantity in the wheels and dryer.  The time it takes to dry the heavier product may lead to excessive overtime. 

For sheets, keep in mind that some ironers are not wide enough to finish 105” width sheets. It is also suggested that you get samples of the goods, which the hotel is considering to purchase.  By thoroughly processing them before purchase, you’ll have a good idea of the challenges you may be facing.

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Advance Discount Registration Opens for IHMRS 2011

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Advance registration is open for the 96th annual International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show® (IHMRS) being held November 12 – 15th at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. A discounted registration fee of $30 is available through October 7, 2011, with the rate increasing to $50 on October 8. The IHMRS present more than 700 hospitality industry suppliers and attract some 30,000 trade attendees The IHMRS website is located here.