Arpal Gulf have recently published four articles on Clean Middle East, the region’s leading cleaning industry magazine, covering the topic of quality control in commercial laundry.
The first article, Striving for Quality Standards, argues that the Middle East has the potential to emerge as a world leader in commercial laundry in terms of quality, innovation and environmental responsibility. This should deliver major benefits to customers in terms of enhanced efficiency, reduced costs and access to the latest most innovative laundry technology.
For this to happen, however, the industry urgently requires quality standards and regulations to ensure compliance with best international practices.
It may come as a surprise to many that commercial laundry across the Middle East, with the exception of hospital linen in some countries, operates with few quality control standards. In a highly competitive, fragmented and sometimes cut-throat market, this is a high risk approach to follow.
With no agreed standards in place and no robust requirements for linen bug tests, there is a clear risk to the end consumer and laundry employee. Soiled textile articles are a potential source of pathogenic microorganisms. If hygienic storage and handling procedures are followed, the risk of disease transmission and cross-contamination between clean and soiled articles is negligible. This cannot be guaranteed when no standards are in place.
For the commercial laundry operator, neglecting quality standards in a highly fragmented and competitive marketplace is leading to a ‘race to the bottom’ – a ‘vicious circle’ of aggressive price competition often at the expense of quality.
As a supplier, totally committed to delivering the highest quality standards to all of our customers, this does not make sense to us. It significantly increases the potential risk to the general public and employees. With laundry chemicals accounting for approximately 5 per cent of overall laundry costs, our question is: why skimp on quality?
To move from a ‘vicious circle’ of declining standards to a ‘virtuous’ one of improvement, where quality and hygiene are central operational pillars, we need standards in the following areas:
• Laundry chemical product approvals from regulatory authorities
• Proof of disinfection using internationally agreed standards
• Bug tests for the laundered fabric using agar gels
• Use of soft water to save on detergent thereby helping the environment
• A programme of failure tests to prove that the fabric is not being damaged
• Proof of thermal disinfection at 71°C for 10 minutes in the main wash
• The employment of qualified staff, certified as competent for the job
• Documented proof of correct loading of the machine
• Use of equipment and machines that provide the highest level of workplace safety
The three follow-up articles cover: