Checklist: Water efficiency practices for laundry facilities

Laundry facilities range in size from industrial operations to self-service machine businesses. No matter what a facility's size, it can use the water efficiency practices highlighted in this checklist, courtesy of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, to save water and the costs associated with water supply and discharge.

  • Wash full loads only.

  • Reduce water volumes for partial loads.

  • Install a system to reuse rinse water for wash water make-up. Computer-controlled rinse water reclamation systems can save as much as 25 percent over conventional systems.

  • Employ a rinse water or wash water treatment system to allow reclamation and reuse of the water in laundry operations. These systems treat wastewater for reuse in initial wash cycles and can save up to 50 percent of total water use for the entire system.

  • Investigate washing systems that internally reuse rinse water and wash water in a continuous batch or "tunnel" type process with counter current flow. These washers can reduce water use by as much as 60 percent when compared with washer-extractor types. They also use less chemicals and energy and are less labor-intensive.

  • Install an ozone laundry system that uses ozone rather than detergent as a cleaning agent. These systems work on a closed loop process and use cold water only. Water needed for the rinse cycle is reduced since no detergent is present to be rinsed from the laundry.

  • Schedule wash loads carefully to minimize the need to adjust the chemical/detergent composition and machine variables. Develop methods using minimum water requirements based on load soil conditions and treatment requirements.

  • Install water saving devices on all fixtures.

  • Inspect and repair valves, sensors and other controls regularly.

  • Use static rinse tanks where feasible.

  • Meter flows through the cleaning systems for more effective operations control. By metering flows, minimum flow rates can be accurately maintained.

  • Backflush filter systems only when necessary.

  • Replace conventional machines in laundromats with water saving horizontal axis machines. These washers rotate laundry rather than agitating it and use much less water.

  • Post water efficiency signs telling customers how they can save water and money by washing full loads only or lowering the water level settings on partial loads.

This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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