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Towel care tips

May 25, 2011
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1. Wash before you dry.
According to Becky Kube, president and co-owner of Q.B. Enterprises Inc., a supplier of towels and vending products, new towels should be washed in a solution of warm water and one cup of distilled white vinegar (not cider vinegar) two to three times before they are put in service.

“Dry the towels completely, making sure to empty the lint catcher,” she advised. “This removes any surface lint left over from manufacturing.” Why vinegar? Well, vinegar is needed to remove the sizing that has been added during the manufacturing process, Kube explained, and sizing prevents towels from absorbing and gives the finished towel stain resistance and a bright finish.

“After the initial washing, add vinegar once a week to the wash,” Kube continued. “This will help to remove the musty smell damp towels have.”

2. Have enough towels on hand.

According to Valerie Sweeney, marketing director at ERC Wiping Products Inc., a distributor of towel and wiping products, detail shop owner/operators need to evaluate the needs of their business before ordering towels. “It all depends on the volume of the carwash,” she explained.

Sweeney said towels should be rotated out at the first sign of deterioration, and can sometimes be repurposed as grease rags for wiping wheel wells and door jams.

3. Skip the bleach.

Kube said a cardinal rule when washing towels is to never use bleach. “Bleach deteriorates the cotton fibers in the towel creating lint and shortening the life of the towel,” Kube explained. “Any questions?”

  1. Don’t mix towels in the wash. According to Kube, operators should avoid washing new towels with old towels and should also ensure they’re not washing window towels with body, wax or grease towels.
  2. “Normal wear and tear breaks the cotton fibers in cotton towels producing lint,” Kube explained. “Washing new towels with old towels will transfer lint from your old towels onto the new towels.”

In addition to concerns about lint, the combination of chemicals in soaps, waxes and detergents does not mix well with window cleaning solutions, Kube explained.

4. Say “Thanks!”
The perfect towel for the flex-serve is a disposable courtesy towel, according to Sweeney.

“These 12” x 12” paper towels are 52 lb. DRC and comparable to the thickness of a paper towel for vending,” she explained. “The courtesy towel says “Thank You” and is a low-cost way to let your customer know that you appreciate his business. They are useful for touching up the car or to get a spot that was missed.”