What is the difference between commercial and household laundry?

Both commercial and household laundry services aim to achieve textile cleanliness, but they differ significantly in terms of scale, equipment, and processes. Commercial laundries operate on a much larger scale and use specialised equipment. They prioritise efficiency, have advanced quality control measures, and take environmental factors into consideration. These commercial laundries play a significant role in many industries by providing customised processes, adhering to regulations, and offering cost-effective solutions.

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Freya Gutteridge

Business & Insights

While both commercial and household laundry share the common goal of cleaning and refreshing textiles, they differ significantly in scale, equipment, processes, and purposes – and understanding these distinctions is essential, especially if you are considering the services of a commercial laundry company. 

We'll delve into the key differences between commercial and household laundry, shedding light on the unique aspects of each.

Volume and scale

One of the most glaring differences between commercial and household laundry is the scale of operations. Commercial laundries handle a huge amount of laundry compared to what you might do at home. Picture the laundry output of a hotel, restaurant, or hospital. This scale necessitates specialised machinery, space, and personnel to efficiently process, clean, and maintain these extensive textile inventories.

Specialised equipment

When you think of household laundry, you likely envision a washing machine and dryer – two essential pieces of equipment for most homes. In contrast, commercial laundries employ an array of specialised equipment, each designed to handle specific types of textiles. They may include large-capacity washing machines, dryers, ironers, ozone cabinets and folding machines. Moreover, commercial machines are built to withstand constant use and are more robust and durable than their household counterparts.

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Processing speed

Efficiency is paramount in the commercial laundry world. The sheer volume of laundry that must be cleaned daily demands fast turnaround times. Commercial machines are optimised for speed, allowing for rapid washing, drying, and finishing. This enables businesses to maintain a continuous supply of clean linens, uniforms, and other textiles, which is crucial for their daily operations.

Quality control

While households focus on keeping clothes clean and presentable, commercial laundry services take quality control to another level. Ensuring that every textile, from bed linens to restaurant napkins, meets stringent cleanliness and hygiene standards is a top priority. Commercial laundries use advanced detergents and chemicals to disinfect and sanitise textiles thoroughly. They also implement rigorous inspection processes to detect and address any stains or damages.

Environmental considerations

Another contrast between commercial and household laundry is the scale of environmental impact. Commercial laundries have a substantial environmental footprint, and it's a facet overlooked by many in the industry. That’s where we’re different. 

At Oxwash, we use a special cleaning method that's better for your clothes and the environment. Instead of using harsh chemicals like traditional dry cleaning, we clean with water and biodegradable detergents. This not only keeps your clothes in great shape but also helps protect our planet.

We've also teamed up with Cleaner Seas Group to create clever filters that prevent microfibres and plastics from getting into the water. These filters reduce the release of these tiny particles by almost 99%.

Customisation and specialisation

Another significant difference lies in the customisation and specialisation offered by commercial laundries. Household laundry is typically a one-size-fits-all affair, where you choose from a few standard cycles on your machine. Commercial laundry services, on the other hand, tailor their processes to the specific needs of each client. Whether it's a healthcare facility requiring medical-grade sanitation or a hotel demanding impeccable linen presentation, commercial laundries specialise in meeting these unique demands.

Regulatory compliance

Compliance with industry-specific regulations is a critical aspect of commercial laundry operations. For instance, healthcare linens must adhere to strict infection control protocols, necessitating specialised washing processes. Commercial laundries invest in staff training and equipment calibration to ensure that their clients' textiles consistently meet the required standards. 

In fact, we have just been accredited with EN 14065 Atlas Certification – a requirement to clean NHS linens.

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Cost considerations

While household laundry costs primarily revolve around the price of detergent and utilities, commercial laundry services factor in several other costs. These include labour, maintenance, utility expenses, and the significant initial investment in industrial-grade machinery. However, the efficiency and scale of commercial laundries often translate to cost savings for clients who can offload their laundry responsibilities and focus on their core operations.

Commercial laundry is the backbone of many industries

In summary, the distinction between commercial and household laundry extends far beyond mere scale. Commercial laundry services are characterised by their specialised equipment, rapid processing speeds, stringent quality control measures, environmental considerations, customisation, and compliance with industry regulations. 

While household laundry serves personal needs, commercial laundry is the backbone of various industries, ensuring that businesses can provide clean, safe, and presentable textiles to their clients. Understanding these differences is essential when considering the services of a commercial laundry company, as it enables you to appreciate the specialised care and expertise they bring to the table.


If you have any questions about commercial laundry services, get in touch with us today
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