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Case Study

Still using Domestic machines?

Having worked in the laundry industry for many years, one question we get over and over is “I have domestics at the moment, why would I use commercial machines?” probably due to concerns regarding cost and possible contractual commitments but the reasons for making the transition in terms of massively improved productivity, time and utilities saved are defiantly worth investigating.

It is worth noting that customers who do make the shift normally comment “Why didn’t I do this ages ago?”, and that a commercial does the job of at least 2 domestics, but for the benefit of those still using domestics hopefully the following information will aid your decision.

Care Sector
Firstly, it is very unfair to compare a domestic machine, which is built and designed to do 2-3 loads a week for around 2500 cycles, to a machine designed to run 24 hours a day for 30,000 cycles. Domestic machines are limited with a 13amp supply so cannot get any extra power. In addition, they are generally only cold fill these days, so a good warm / hot wash can take a long time and may never actually make it to the correct temperature.

If you are in the care sector this can be a real issue for thermal disinfection washes, as you have no way of knowing if the machine is getting to the appropriate heat to kill bacteria in the drum as few domestic machines have a temperature display which is standard on commercial machines. Furthermore, the holes in the drum of domestic machines can be too fine to deal with the contents of red bags and tend to keep the organic waste in the drum.

Also worth noting the machines drainage, as a commercial machine for the care environment will have a gravity drain, meaning all the water in the machine will go down the drains, where as a domestic machine has a pump drain with a long hose – typically pushed into a vertical standpipe on the wall, meaning some water will sit in the pipe and in the machine This is not ideal for homes with incontinence, nor pleasant for the laundry staff.

Warranty and WRAS
Some other considerations, not just for care but for all commercial environments, would be warranties. If you put a domestic machine in a commercial environment you will probably need to accept that your warranty is null and void. What is often not considered, however, is the WRAS (Water regulations advisory standards see ) which, in simple terms means the washing machine must have an air gap to prevent water in the drum back filling into the water supply. This makes good sense but as domestic machines have no requirement to have this, they fall down here whilst their commercial counterparts are built to meet these standards. WRAS is a legal requirement with fines enforced by the local water board (South west water in our area) and at an average of £3,000 an offence it needs to be adhered to.

Durability and life span
Beyond the obvious productivity benefits with faster cycles, durability must be high on the list of good reasons to use commercial machines. Whilst domestic machines are not really designed to be maintained, commercials are marketed as being engineer friendly, indeed we have machines that we maintain that are 15 – 20 years old and we can still get the parts.

A Case study on a 20 bed North Devon care home
When we first had the enquiry and did a site survey, the home was found to have 3 domestics of various sizes taking anywhere between an hour to 3 hours a cycle. The hour cycle, whilst faster, resulted in poor wash quality with staff using too much or too little washing powder and having to hand sluice soiled clothes and bedding.

Solution: We installed 1 x Electrolux 6.5kg washer with auto dosing detergents. The home now uses red bags on a thermal sluice cycle – increasing the infection control procedures. With an average 60-degree cycle of 70 mins they have kept 1 domestic as a spare but seldom use it.

The auto dosing detergents (see ) ensure wash consistency every time and no over soaping reduces skin irritations with the residents and controls costs.

To find out more or what the cost would be please contact us.

The Feedback

“We should have done this a long time ago, the process is automated, the staff are happier, and I am more confident in our infection control procedures.”

Care Home Manager, North Devon

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