Don’t let your business go up in smoke

If you launder towels and linen in your business, there’s an unexpected fire risk you may not have thought about.

When you hear stories about things going wrong in other businesses, it’s tempting to think “that’ll never happen to us… we’re different”.

When laundry has oily or chemical residue on it from creams, massage oils and the like, it significantly increases the risk of a catastrophic fire. That’s because linen left sitting in piles, dryers or stacked in cupboards has been known to spontaneously combust, causing a fire.

Fire may result from:

  • Leaving soiled linen in a pile or laundry bin overnight, particularly if it’s been treated with bleach, stain remover or other oxidising chemicals.
  • Not washing linen thoroughly before placing it in the dryer.
  • Not allowing linen to cool down after drying, particularly when the dryer is stopped before it’s cool down cycle has finished.
  • Over-heating linen by drying it for too long.

Tips for reducing the risk of fire

  • Don’t leave soiled linen in piles or laundry bins overnight before washing.
  • Remove lint from the dryer after every use.
  • Don’t ever place linen in the dryer unless it has been thoroughly washed in hot water, as cold water doesn’t adequately remove any oily residue. Some items may also need pre-soaking.
  • Remove linen as soon as the dryer stops and allow it to cool before stacking or putting it away. Similarly, don’t stop the dryer mid-cycle without immediately removing the linen and spreading it out to cool. Warm linen left in a confined space really can spontaneously combust, causing a fire!
  • When purchasing a new dryer consider getting one with automatic fire suppression.
  • Don’t be tempted to operate any equipment beyond its rated capacity. Don’t push the dryer to its limits or use it for purposes other than what it was designed for.
  • Ensure all dryers are regularly inspected and maintained, including calibration of timers or temperature controls.
  • Consider the benefits of outsourcing the washing and drying of your linen.
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