Out with the Mold, in with the New
PVC-coated bags help reduce mildew damage to linens and uniforms
By Scott Benjamin
For over 10 years, some of our industry's largest textile rental service companies have benefited from a simple solution to a potentially costly problem. The issue is twofold?mold and mildew cause damage to linens and uniforms. Operators also would face expensive laundering costs to clean and dry these textiles as well as the bags that handle them. PVC-coated polyester mesh bags offer a practical alternative that can help save time, money and aggravation in processing.
Traditional linen and uniform pickup bags used to consist of either the old "potato" bag or bags made from cotton, cotton-blend or polyester material. Today's PVC-coated polyester mesh bags represent a modern solution to an age-old dilemma. PVC?poly vinyl chloride?is a commonly applied thermoplastic polymer that has many uses. From tubing used in plumbing products to the material used in credit cards, PVC is everywhere. The textile industry quickly adopted PVC by applying it to different fabrics. Whether a facility extrudes PVC to make fabric or simply dips and coats the fabric with PVC, the same benefits result.
Linen service providers currently use PVC-coated mesh bags in restaurants, hospitality, healthcare, correctional and commercial settings. Recently, uniform service providers have begun using PVC for its many benefits, including easy viewing of bag contents for sorting purposes.
In 1997, TRSA conducted a survey that confirmed a common problem of mildew in the textile service industry. While 85% of respondents used a mildewcide, they continued to suffer from mildew in their facilities. The combination of the PVC coating and the open weave of the mesh allow air to circulate freely, thus reducing or eliminating mildew formation. Textile service companies that operate in geographic areas with high temperatures and humidity are keenly aware of this benefit.
When polyester mesh fabric is dipped in PVC, the fabric is fortified. It resists mold/rot, abrasions and tears, as well as flames and hydrostatic charge. Other important benefits of adding PVC to fabric include: increased tensile strength, heightened tear resistance of the fabric, easy cleaning and malleability in cold weather. Once in service, the coated mesh bags can help linen service and uniform companies win the war on mildew, thereby reducing processing costs and enhancing durability.
According to a survey conducted by Plexus Industries, San Diego, professionals were asked to identify any potential negatives associated with PVC bags. While most responses included praise for all the benefits described above, two potential issues were identified. The first is potential cross contamination due to the open weave of the product. A sloppy, soiled linen or garment can "transfer" through the mesh and soil other items. This mostly occurs when route drivers pile sloppy soil bags on top of other bags with clean goods. A simple effort to train drivers will virtually eliminate this problem.
A second area of concern is the initial investment in the bags. Since the price is higher than that of traditional soil bags, some survey participants expressed the need for less-costly bags. Nevertheless, these responses came mostly from companies that don't currently use PVC-coated mesh bags and aren't aware of its many cost-saving advantages.
The application of PVC to the coating of polyester mesh bags helps to reduce processing costs for two reasons. First, eliminating mildew from the laundering process means cutting back on rewashes and additional cleaning agents. Second, reducing these activities helps prolong the service life of linens or uniforms.
While the start-up cost of these bags is higher than that of traditional bags, they have a substantially longer service life. They resist cuts and won't run if a cut occurs. Another significant cost benefit stems from energy efficiency, as certain PVC-coated mesh laundry bags don't require machine drying after extraction. Oftentimes, by looking beyond the obstacle, a simple solution can turn out to be the most profitable.
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Plexus Industries is a provider of PVC-coated polyester mesh bags. Characteristics of its product include: