For washing fabric John England must maintain a fully equipped laundry with large expensive machinery.
To minimise tangling and marking of the fabric during washing it can only be washed in about 20-30 metre lengths. There is considerable handling. First cutting to lengths, then taking them from the washing machines and tumble drying and then straightening/untwisting and rolling them. Washing can cost up to a few pounds per metre. As the process is a very labour intensive there is little economy of scale.
In addition to the processing costs there is also the cost of shrinkage. On average this is about 8%-10%, but in some fabrics it can be considerably more. So, generally, if a customer requires 100 metres of washed fabric they must buy about 112 metres of unwashed fabric. This shrinks down to 100 metres. Customers often forget they must buy this extra fabric, and incur this extra cost, to get fabrics which have been pre-shrunk.
After this process there may still be a small amount of residual shrinkage left, but most will be removed.
The purpose of this process is to shrink fabrics. This means that garments or items made up from these washed fabrics do not, or shrink very little, in subsequent washing by the end user. This process also softens the linen.
John England believes that their process, although quite labour intensive, is the method to give the best washed finish for our customers. Costs of the process are not just the cutting, washing and handling itself, but also the cost of shrinkage.