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Cost Per Pound For Chemicals

Question:  Does anyone have any information on average cost per pound for chemicals in linen processing?
-Lee Eisenhauer Terra Chem, Inc.


Answer 1: That's a tough one. The average can range from 1/2 cent a pound to over 2 or 3 cents a pound. It depends on the classification type of fabric, soil, machine and water, and the temperature of the water. All of these other factors impact the overall operating cost. Another aspect to take into account is how long you wash. For example, if you're using a tunnel with a short cycle or a batch that has a suds cycle for about twenty minutes.

The standard way that you look at laundering is the effect of time, temperature, mechanical action and chemical action. You have to balance all of those factors and each one has a certain cost associated with it. Time affects labor and productivity rates, temperature gives you energy costs, mechanical action is how you load the machine, whether you under or over load it, and then chemical action is the amount of chemicals or different kinds of chemicals you use.

You also have to take into consideration that lower soil content uses less chemicals. If you're laundering mechanic's uniforms with high levels of grease and oil, you would require much more detergent.

Steve Tinker Director of Corporate Technology ECOLAB

Answer 2: It's very difficult to establish an average because of theindustry classes: hospitality, linen supply, hospital and industriallaundry. For hospitality, an average cost is around 78 cents per hundred pounds of linen processed. Nursing homes might average in the mid-80's per hundred pounds processed and linen supply is about $1.20 per hundred pounds processed.

The difference in cost is relative to the degree of soiling. In a hotel, only sheets, towels and pillowcases may be washed. In a nursing home or in health care, there is linen that heavily soiled with blood. Linen supply washes butcher smocks, bar towels and bib aprons. So, the cost of cleaning goods depends on the soil mix.

Another difficulty with giving averages across-the-board hotels or linen supply operations is that one hotel may have a large banquet facility and have huge percentages of heavily soiled material versus a hotel with no on-site facility. In linen supply, chef and cook coats, butcher smocks, and bar towels can be extremely soiled. General costs are difficult to calculate because it depends on the percentage of items the facility washes. For example, bar towels can get filthy; the cost of processing them could be 30 percent of the total washroom chemical cost. An operation that uses a high volume of bar towels will have considerably higher chemical costs. The other consideration is the price of chemicals. Prices in some parts of the country could be higher than others because of distribution costs.

Doug Story Director of Technical Development UNX Inc. 

Answer 3: What it comes down to is -- is it sheets, pillowcases, towels or lab coats? They're all different. For example sheets and pillowcases get body soil, perspiration and hair oils. Sheets are usually light soil, pillowcases are harder to wash because of hair oil and sweat. Towels are usually light soil. Then you have coats, lab coats, that get totally different stains. Different soils need different conditions. So it all depends on the laundry.

Fixed cost accounts with light soil could run as low as .60 cents per hundred pounds up to 80 cents. For heavy soil I would run between one and two dollars, depending on what you're washing and what you have to do to it to reclaim it.

Hotel/motel stuff, could be a quick wash with detergent, alkali, and bleach. For table linen you'd use detergent, alkali, bleach, anti-clor, sour and mildew side. One of the major problems in linen plants in the summer is mildew so you have to treat linen - especially table linen - with an anti-mildew product. That runs up the cost a bit.

Frank Kappler Chemist Gurtler Chemicals, Inc.

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Laundry Employee Gets Trapped

DALLAS, Texas — An employee of Crown Health Care Laundry Services, died at Vaughn Regional Medical Center after being trapped inside a dryer. The 28-year-old was trying to remove lint when the machine malfunctioned.