Understanding Commercial Linen
There is a retail mythology in buying linen which relates to the quality of sheet being determined by the thread count or threads per inch.
Firstly what does thread count mean? – it is a measure of the coarseness or fineness of a fabric, It is measured by counting the number of threads contained in one square inch of fabric or one square centimeter, including both the length (Warp) and width (Weft) threads. The thread count is the number of threads counted along two sides (up and across) of the square inch, added together; it is especially used in bed sheeting.
There is a common misconception that thread count is an important consideration when purchasing bedding. However, linen experts claim that beyond a thread count of 600, there's no difference in quality. The amount of thread that can fit into a square inch of fabric is limited, suggesting that bedding beyond 800 counts is likely a marketing strategy.
What determines commercial sheets? – The yarns used, the construction of the sheet and using the equal yarns in both the warp & the weft – makes the sheet stronger
A standard yarn used in commercial sheets is 20s or 21s – the higher the yarn number (20s), the finer the yarn, for instance, to produce a sateen quality satin stripe top sheet, most use a 40s yarn.
Trickery of some retailers, they can describe a sheet with a higher thread count as being a finer sheet. Some people could be misinformed on this terminology of what finer really means. One could assume the word finer means luxury or improved, however the word finer in regards to thread counts often just means thinner, and is completely unrelated to quality. Higher thread count = finer yarns/ threads.
To determine the difference, we look at the weight of a sheet. Weight is important. A good commercial bed sheet should weigh between 155-180 grams.
It is important to remember that commercial linen does get a harder workout and each time a sheet is laundered, some of the fibers can get lost which contributes to the wear and tear factor.
Commercial bedding = need to use thicker yarns/threads
Domestic bedding (Retail) = Finer/ thinner yarns/threads
The world's cotton comes from genetically modified (GM) seed, China & India produce the majority of the world’s cotton, they purchase the remaining cotton from America & Pakistan, who produce the best cotton to use for our commercial hospitality industry.
Pictures below are diagrams of pulling threads apart to count more within the square inch, to be able to market the sheet with a higher thread count:
Sheeting fabric is made up of fibers running in two directions at right angles to each other, known as the warp and the weft. The warp runs lengthwise and the weft runs across the width. These threads are combined during the weaving process.
KNOWING YOUR BED SHEETS
We recommend washing your bed linen separately and before use, in a cool/warm machine wash.
Wash before use is because your bed linen has been handled during manufacturing and has been in a stored environment and therefore maybe dusty.
Always wash colours separately.
Avoid overloading your machine; this will prevent long fibers from breaking.
Allow the machine to fill up and begin agitating before you add detergent or bleach.
Try to avoid heavy bleaching where possible. White sheets tend to last the least due to the bleaching required in laundering to maintain the whiteness.
Remove washed linen promptly from the machine, this helps to reduce wrinkling.
Do not over dry your sheets.
Place through iron roller whilst still damp, this fabric requires a minimum of 10% moisture, this will finish off the drying process as well as ironing your crisp white bed sheets. Try to feed your sheets through the width of the sheet first, hemmed edge first. This will help with getting more use out of your sheets.
Cotton is the ideal fiber for towels, as it is absorbent, soft, durable and easy to care for. The commercial grade construction of cotton towels ensures they withstand the rigorous cleaning procedures associated with commercial use.
KNOWING YOUR BATH LINEN
Cotton toweling has three fibers which form the pile or loop of the towel, which is anchored into the base fabric. During the weaving process, these three threads are combined according to a given pattern.
A good commercial towel should be a ring spun rather than a courser feeling open-end yarn and 100% cotton.
All cotton towels will shrink in the first few washes. The extent of the shrinkage is influenced by the size of the different yarns used, the density of the weave, difference in weave pattern and importantly the laundering temperatures & time on drying cycles.
Pulled threads can occur when loops are caught on sharp objects, due to the towels being woven not knitted. If threads are pulled they can simply be cut off.
Cotton towels should remain white with the proper use of good chemicals and by adhering to the correct washing procedures. However, greying can occur through impure water quality and the overuse of optical brighteners which can cause colour loss.
Coloured towels are dyed in batches, which may give a slight colour variation between different towel batches.
Always wash towels in a cool/warm machine wash separately before use.
CARING FOR YOUR BATH LINEN
Always wash coloured towels separately from your whites, please use a detergent designed for coloured items.
Do not bleach your coloured towels.
Washing powder/liquid should be fully dissolved prior to adding your towels to the machine.
Fading or patchy colour of towels may occur if detergent comes into direct contact with towels and not completely washed out.
Avoid using brighteners on coloured towels as brighteners only brighten white towels. This could affect the colour of the towel.
Do no use fabric softeners, as overuse can leave a coating on the fibers, which can reduce the absorbency of the towel.
Do not iron or dry clean your towels, it may leave your fiber piles flat.
Tumble dry on a medium heat will give the towels the softest of finish. Drying excessively at high heat could make the towels harsh/rough to the touch.
If your towels feel rough or crispy, this means that the towel has been over dried, you need to look at reducing the time in the dryer and or the temperature of the dryer, Over drying could remove the natural moisture present in the fabric and it may cause the fabric to become brittle, which could shorten the lifespan of your towels.
Bleach will remove colour from your towels, (if a reactive dye towel or brighteners used on vat dye towels) try to avoid contact with bathroom cleaners.
Towels have been handled through a manufacturing process and have been in a stored environment and maybe dusty, also towels are generally stacked on shelves, and may look flat in appearance, washing will ensure the pile regains fluffiness,
Combing is a method for preparing fiber for spinning by use of combs. The combs used have long metal teeth, and only barely resemble the comb used on hair. However, they are used in a similar fashion with one comb holding the fiber while the other is moved through, slowly transferring the fiber to the moving comb.
WHAT IS COMBED COTTON?
Combing the fibers removes the short fibers and arranges the fiber in a flat bundle, with all the fibers going the same direction. This preparation is commonly used to spin a worsted yarn. Woollen yarns cannot be spun from fiber prepared with combs, instead, the fiber must be carded. Cotton is combed when it is to be used for high-quality counts. In general, combing is done with fibers that are longer, and carding with fibers of a shorter length.
PROCESSING POLYESTER TABLE LINEN
Table linen that is made from 100% spun polyester will last longer than 100% Cotton products.
Polyester can also retain its colour better than cotton. Polyester can have disadvantages that need to be taken into account when processing, to help the fabric last its lifetime.
The wash process must be designed to suit the material. To avoid excessive creasing in the wash, polyester will need to be loaded into the washer at a level that is 20-25% below the machine’s rated capacity. Polyester physical features mean that if it is loaded to the same level as 100% cotton, there is a high risk that the mechanical action will not be sufficient to remove soiling efficiently. A higher degree of loading can also lead to excessive pressure creasing with the risk of thermal shock.
Polyester is naturally attracted to oily substances. Many of the edible oils and fats used in cooking are highly refined and will be difficult to remove.
Polyester needs a higher level of alkalinity and a raised wash temperature; high alkalinity will ensure good emulsification of the oils and fats, preventing re-deposition. However higher wash temperatures will often “Set” protein stains, such as blood which can make it difficult to remove.
A stack of white polyester table linen with varying shades of grey and white indicates that the processes need to be adjusted to prevent soil re-deposition.
To avoid thermal shock creasing a cool down phase should be used at the end of the main wash stage before the hot liquor is drained from the machine.
Unlike cotton, polyester does not absorb moisture, the only water on fabric will be held between the fibers and the weave.
Polyester table linen requires no less than 10% moisture within the fabric prior to feeding into the ironer, not to be dried prior to ironing; this will incur thermal shock to the fabric.
Avoid leaving wet polyester laying around too long before ironing to avoid pressure creasing.
Keep polyester covered whilst in storage to avoid localised evaporation and dry areas on the linen.
If polyester is overheated during finishing, it will lead to overall glazing giving a very shiny finish and damaging the fibers.