Conquering Mt. Washmore

8 September 2022

Is it time for an in-house laundry service?

Staff shortages are causing havoc for laundries across the ditch.  While the situation is slightly better here in New Zealand, having the capability to do your laundry on-site could be a necessary safety net in a new post-Covid world. 

The headlines out of Australia recently have been clear. Accommodation providers are reporting widespread issues with laundries who are struggling to keep up with increased demand while dealing with staff shortages. Some of these shortages may be temporary and due to Covid still rearing its ugly head in workplaces. However, others could be more permanent, be it from an inability to hire new staff to replace those let go in lockdown or a lack of new workers arriving due to recent border closures.

No matter the reason, accommodation providers are suffering. Many are not able to get enough clean linen to meet demand. New providers are also struggling to sign up for services, with linen supply companies unable to take on new clients.

There are also reports of laundries cutting their pick-up and drop off service, leaving hotels and motels with the extra job of running delivery.

Here in New Zealand, there are reports of similar tales (albeit with less frequency as in Australia). Many of our laundries are doing an admirable job moving through the workload and delivering on time with consistently high standards. Nevertheless, the uncertainty of the overall situation has caused many operations to reconsider how they can keep a clean sheet. 

Bringing laundry into the fold.

One way to manage this issue is to set up an in-house laundry. While this will take some initial outlay it could save you money and stress in the long run. Most importantly, it delivers self-sufficiency when times get tough. Even if your laundry room is only used for part of the load, it can help to take the pressure off a laundry service and ensure you can provide clean linen in busy periods.

Of course, the ability to bring a laundry service into your own operation is dependent on space and budget. When considering where to place the laundry ventilation is an important factor. It’s best if there is some natural light and fresh air getting into the space if possible. If not, ensure there are good extraction fans to prevent dampness. A damp space could damage the machines and cause mildew to form on any stored linen.

Setting up your space.

Yes, the size of your laundry room will certainly depend on the size of your operation. As a general rule it’s safe to aim for something between 3 and 6 square metres in area. A large table in the centre can be used for folding, ironing and pressing, and shelving is needed for linen and for chemical storage. Sinks and machines should be placed along one wall.

When purchasing machines for your laundry, it is essential to choose commercial grade washers and dryers. A domestic machine will not stand up to the constant, heavy loads required of a hotel or motel. Commercial machines are also extra-large with durable galvanized steel cylinders, making them virtually bullet-proof.

Back up your back-up.

If adding an in-house laundry room is not possible, another way to prevent a linen crisis in your accommodation is to ensure you have plenty of back-up linen. A storage room for extra linen can be a lot smaller than a laundry room and doesn’t require staff to be constantly turning machines over. Just like a laundry area, good ventilation and a warm dry space is still important.

While the usual equation (or par level) is 2 – 3 sets of linen-per-bed, in these tough times of staff shortages and linen supply issues, it might be best to boost your storage to 3 or 4, to be safe. Having a good supply of sheets, pillow slips, duvet covers and towels will help get you through busy holiday periods, even when your usual linen service is taking longer than usual to scale their laundry mountains.

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