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Laundry Chemicals

Laundry chemicals can sometimes be a confusing aspect of owning a laundry. Many chemical companies will promise the latest and greatest formulations or present you with confusing names when in reality most companies are selling a product that is very similar just with a different label. However be warned that there are lots of areas manufacturers can take short cuts and price often correlates with quality, not only in the product but also in the service offered by the company. A good chemical company isn't just out to sell you a product but should offer you a complete service that includes measuring quality and rewash, an understanding of wash processes, equipment types and uses, textiles, and can provide sound advise when you are faced with a challenge.


Washing powders are broken down generally into three types: 


1. Domestic class washing powders (e.g. AMC - 100)

2. Industrial class washing powders (e.g. AMC - 150, AMC - 150 OXY, AMC - 200S)

3. Enzyme based washing powders (e.g. AMC - T3ZYME)

Washing powders are generally alkaline which opens up fibres and reduces the surface tension of water therefore improving soil removal from textiles. They also contain a blend of surfactants, soil removing and anti-redeposition agents, optical brighteners, and agents that improve wash condition and improve water quality. Some powders like AMC-150 OXY contain oxygen bleaches that are safe to use on colour textiles and contain low temperature activators for use in cool wash programes. Powders can also be mixed into stock tanks for automated dosing.


Liquid laundry detergents may not be as great as powder options as it is difficult to balance everything in a liquid you can put in a powder gram for gram. However modern surfactants, enzyme blends, and soil release polymers can greatly improve historical laundry detergents. Liquids are easily dosed through automated pumps allowing careful control over dosages reducing wastage.


Some wash classifications e.g. blood stained textiles or heavy oil classifications may need alkali boosters to further improve the removal of these soils, especially when using liquid detergents. These are usually liquid alkali boosters dosed through pumps but powder forms are also available.


A good emulsifier (e.g. AMC - Prosolv N) is also needed for certain types of laundry like spa towels or engineering overalls. These boost the surfactants in the wash cycle and keep oils in suspension. Many laundry fires can be prevented by using a good emuslifier on spa towels which can ignite in dryers or through spontaneous combustion.


Bleaches are either classed as colour safe i.e. they can be used on colour textiles and are mostly based on peroxide, or chlorine based bleaches that should only be used on white cotton textiles. This is usually one of the areas chemical companies can confuse the customer.


Some examples of colour safe bleaches include:

1. 30-50% Hydrogen Peroxide (e.g. AMC - Colour Safe Bleach)

2. 5-15% Peracetic Acid and their related chemicals (e.g. AMC - Peracetic acid)

3. Percarbonates or perborates which come in powder formulations

Chlorine bleaches are typically referred to as:

1. 5-12% liquid Chlorine bleach or Sodium hypochlorite (e.g. AMC - Chlorine bleach)

2. Organic bleaches which come in powder formulations

Bleaches are hazardous and should be handled with care. Liquids are safest when dosed through automated dosing units. Their concentration in the wash should be carefully controlled to prevent damages. They also often require a specific temperature range and pH to be most effective.


Certain stains may require special treatment. Dyes and iron marks require what are known as reducing agents to remove. Again this is an area where a different name is often given to a generic chemical.

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