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Tackling the Miami Dolphins Laundry

DAVIE, FLA -- The grueling sport of football poses many challenges for Tony Egues, head equipment manager of the Miami Dolphins. Whether the team is in training, playing at home or traveling for a game, the uniforms for approximately 110 people, including players, coaches and support staff, must always be clean and presentable for another hard days work on the gridiron.

A typical laundry day runs between eight and ten hours and the core laundry handled in-house daily by Egues, his two full-time employees and two full-time interns are the player's undergarments, including shorts, jocks, socks, and cotton T-shirts and girdles. These items are place in individual mesh bags and washed in one of three Milnor 50-pound washer/extractors. Drying is handled by three Cissell 75 pound gas-fired units.

For tracking purposes, Egues, a self-professed believer in neatness and professional appearance, had special embroidered tags made with each player's number and coach's initials. These are sewn into every individual garment and the mesh bags by the team's seamstress. At practice sessions, the mesh shorts and short- or long-sleeve performance T-shirts worn are washed in house and then hung to dry in each individual's locker because the material, designed to wick moisture away from the body, would be ruined if placed in a dryer.

To determine solutions that would maximize washer performance against perspiration, blood and other body fluids and ensure that germs were killed off effectively, Egues partnered with Ecolab to evaluate washer chemical usage.

Uniform jerseys and pants require different laundry tactics. First, they are placed in tubs for up to eight hours in a protein release solution to remove blood and grass stains. The jerseys are then laundered in-house while the pants are sent to a local dry cleaner in order to remove the ground-in paint used to decorate the playing fields with team logos and even brighten the green grass itself.

"It's supposed to be a water-based paint, but it doesn't agree with the Lycra material in the pants and we have found it to very difficult to get out, a problem not only for us but for the other NFL teams as well," noted Egues. Coaches' game uniforms, consisting of pants and collared shirts, also go to the dry cleaner, in large part because they must be 100 percent wrinkle free and currently the laundry room does not have any press equipment.

For games held away from home, all items worn are placed in trunks, transported back to Miami, sorted and then laundered as usual. Bath towels, ranging from 800 used during each practice or game up to 1400 during training camp, are handled by a local laundry service, a setup inherited by Egues when he was promoted to head equipment manager seven years ago. By comparing price and performance, costs were reduced by 56 percent and at 42 cents per towel, the price has held steady over the past three years.

"Most NFL teams do their towels in-house, so by those standards, our laundry room is very small," said Egues. By pulling together a combination of approaches to handling the Miami Dolphins' laundry, Egues tackles a tough job, scoring a touchdown for the team in his own way.

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Man Freed From Laundry Machine

ENGLAND — Firefighters freed a man trapped in a laundry after he tried to pull some sheets that were stuck from a folding machine. The machine had not been turned off when he began trying the free the sheets. The employee’s arm became trapped in the machine but the firefighters worked quickly cutting the machine’s belt to free the man. He was rushed to the hospital where he was stabilized.