Is washing/laundering fabric expensive?

John England Laundry

John England uses a high labour intensive industrial washing/ laundering and tumbling process to shrink and soften their linens. There is great care in handling to minimise creasing. Creases if handled wrongly are permanently set in the fabric.

Linens of different weights and weave structures; whether dyed, bleached, or in loom-state require varying degrees of detergents and softeners. Dyed fabric colours can change adversely by the wrong detergents. Also, varying degrees of drum agitation in the machine, amounts of water, spin cycles, lengths of fabric, etc. are carefully monitored and controlled.

It is of great benefit that John England are in a soft water area as hard water can damage the laundry machinery and give fabrics a harsh handle if not properly controlled.

In tumbling temperature, time and lengths of fabric are also carefully monitored and controlled. Adding objects to the tumble can aid softening, and enhance the handle.

Laundering Process

For washing fabric John England must support a fully equipped laundry with large expensive machinery.

After several years of research, use of consultants, and trials John England believe they have developed one of the best fabric finishes on the market. Development has not ceased and is ongoing to further improve

To minimise tangling and marking of the fabric during washing it can only be washed in about 20-30 metre lengths. There is a lot of 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 is 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 shrunk.

After this process there may still be a small amount of residual shrinkage left, but most is 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.

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