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Laundering in a Covid-19 World – Part 2: Our Equipment Installations


Everything is automated, which minimises the risk associated with manual or hand dosing, like you would do at home or as happens at smaller laundries.

At the Bidvest Laundry Group, we know about delivering impeccable service and investing in world-class machinery, equipment and technology that saves time, money and the environment – and right now, also how our processes can best help to prevent exposure and minimise the risk of Covid-19 infection to both our people and yours.

While there is still some debate over how long the virus may linger on fabric and hard surfaces, we believe it best to take every precaution by considering every item of linen and workwear we launder to be at-risk, and by paying meticulous attention to keeping our machinery sanitised and minimising the handling of items wherever possible during the laundry process, from washing right through to dispatch.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently advocates laundering items using the hottest appropriate water setting and drying items completely. This is essentially where industrial cleaning separates itself from domestic and small commercial cleaning operations, in both method and scale.

At the Bidvest Laundry Group, we launder to South African National Standards (SANS) 10146 wash-process guidelines, in accordance with procedures set out by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS).

We wash linen and garments in 12 stages – in what is referred to as a Continuous Batch Washer (CBW). These are compartmentalised textile, industrial washing machines that employ an Archimedean screw principle in the drum design, to transfer individual loads of textiles from one compartment to the next, after equal time intervals throughout the machine – or, in simpler terms, 12 washing machines, put back to front, where each machine represents a different stage of the wash cycle, from pre-wash to rinse. Three of our operations currently have 8-stage machines; this just means that the washing stays in a particular module for a longer period of time. Wash and process time remains the same, no matter how many stages are involved, as it’s all pre-programmed.

Possibly the two biggest benefits of the laundering equipment we use is

  1. the setup will not allow the wash process to continue if the programmed temperatures required for thermal disinfection are not reached; it will actually stop the whole process and will not dispatch linen any further along the process, and
  2. soiled items enter on one end and come out clean on the other, which eliminates the chance of cross contamination between soiled and clean linen. Our water systems are also configured in a way that prevents fresh water and dirty water from mixing with each other at any stage of the laundering process.

Furthermore, to help ensure correct chemical dosages per load, we have automated dosing centres on all of our machinery, where the pumps are calibrated based on the signals coming from the machines. Everything is automated, which minimises the risk associated with manual or hand dosing, like you would do at home or as happens at smaller laundries.

In its entirety, the wash process takes between 35-40 minutes. Thereafter, the batches move to the finishing area. Garments are transferred to tunnel finishers, which are basically ‘hot boxes’ that blow hot air over the garments (similar to hanging washing on a line, only with a faster turnaround time). The run through the tunnel finishers also serves to agitate the garments to help eliminate some creasing. Before going through the tunnel finisher, the garments are hung on hangers, then sent through the tunnel finisher and straight on to the dispatch area. Not only do the tunnel finishers help to limit garment handling, there is also less surface contact through the hanging of garments as opposed to folding and stacking them.

For the finishing of flatwork (sheets and linen etc) we have roller irons which run at 180ºC. Handling is greatly reduced here too as these irons have automatic folders, where the linen is ironed and then dispensed at the backend of the machine, ready for packing and dispatch.

With a laundry volume of between 30-35k garment pieces per day, it’s important to get everything right – from the receiving and handling of soiled items, to the temperature levels on the machines, the water flows, the detergent dosage levels, the finishing processes, right through to dispatch.

At the Bidvest Laundry Group, our machine complement is maintained on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, six-monthly and/or annual basis, as deemed necessary by manufacturer and warranty, to maintain quality output. We’ve always worked to the highest industry standards with a solid infrastructure, backed by a highly-experienced, dynamic and dedicated team, as well as the necessary checks and balances to ensure a seamless system from start to finish.

Whatever your laundry requirements, we have the solution for you.

For more information about Bidvest Laundry Group’s processes, including how our wash process and compliance standards help mitigate health and safety risks associated with Covid-19, click here.


Tel: +27 11 398 5300 (Head Office)
Email: info@firstgarment.co.za