On-Campus Laundry 101

Do your washers and dryers make the grade? Here are some of the things you can do to optimize your laundry room’s performance.

Whether your campus is home to hundreds or thousands of students, there’s at least one thing each of them has in common, besides staying up too late for that exam in the morning: dirty laundry. From the incoming freshman taking on washing clothes for the first time to the students who wait all semester to clean everything they own—it’s no surprise that on-campus laundry rooms must be up to the task, day after day.

Giving students a laundry room they can rely on doesn’t just benefit them, but can also help your campus generate more profitable returns. Maintaining equipment, cutting utility costs, incorporating technology, and finding the right route operator to work with—all play a role in making the most out of your on-campus laundry.

Monthly utility costs and expenses are key areas of concern for on-campus laundry rooms. In order to address costs, consider utilizing updated, efficient equipment. Doing so can play a major role in lowering your expenses. While Energy Star®-certified machines use less energy, and cost less to operate, you can also better manage utilities by ensuring proper venting, and staying up to date with machine maintenance.
Other features to keep in mind, especially with washers, are efficient, powerful drive systems. Ideally, you want a drive that delivers consistently balanced loads. This will help end users complete their laundry more efficiently and in less time, freeing up machine availability—and keeping students satisfied.

Consider Total Cost of Ownership

From a long-term standpoint, campuses should look at the total cost of ownership of laundry room equipment, as total cost of ownership can impact operations. Total cost of ownership in the commercial laundry industry references the amount paid for equipment, plus the amount it will cost to operate and maintain it over its lifetime. Energy costs, warranties, machine longevity, and product quality all significantly influence this final expense.

Think of it this way: washers and dryers are similar to owning a car. Older machines will eventually need more servicing and use more energy resources to perform. If your laundry room is currently equipped with older equipment that continually requires attention, not only is it an inconvenience for students, but you’re also spending money to repair machines and losing the money that machine could be making.

Newer machines are going to perform more consistently and efficiently. They can also be more user-friendly, and aesthetically pleasing, giving students more reason to see your laundry room as a campus amenity, not an inconvenience.

This is not to say though that older machines need replacing immediately. By making sure equipment is being used and operated properly, you can help increase its longevity. You can also perform small maintenance tasks to help the cause. For dryers, make sure exhausts are cleaned and lint free; check drive belts for wear and tear, and grease bearings if needed. Similarly, with washers, inspect bearings and drive belts, and check all hosing attachments for leaks and loose connections. Cleaning soap dispensers after cycles can also help maintain a washer’s performance.

Like any machine, by taking the right maintenance precautions, and using equipment as it’s intended to be used, will help extend your investment’s lifespan.

Technology is Making Inroads

For college students, everyday life includes using the latest technology. Technology is also influencing laundry room equipment. Today’s machines are delivering a modern experience. Here’s how.

Laundry, like most industries, depends on cutting-edge technology to thrive. Machine capabilities continue to advance with online tools, connectivity, and technology now playing major roles in the way commercial laundry operations run. Most newer products have software capabilities that can provide more control and remote access to the laundry room.

You now have the ability to adjust machine pricing or provide refunds, receive notifications for maintenance issues and machine productivity, update system software, and streamline payment options for users. Some products can even let students know what machines are available for use through smartphone apps. Tools like these help to decrease machine downtime with more intuitive service notifications, and give students a more dependable, user-friendly laundry option.

The Role of Route Operators

Another aspect to consider is route operators. Route operators can play a significant role for on-campus laundry rooms. They can assist with everything from helping design your laundry room, choose and install the right products, configure or reconfigure floor layout, provide machine maintenance, and collect profits. Regardless of leasing or purchasing, you want to work with a route operator who is familiar with properties similar to yours, and offers energy-efficient equipment.

If you’re not performing maintenance in-house, you also want somebody who has the capacity to service your campus in a timely manner. Having a machine out of service is not ideal for students, and is not helping your property generate revenue.

About the Author

Trey Northrup is general manager of Commercial Laundry for Whirlpool Corporation (maytagcommerciallaundry.com).