A guide to outsourcing yacht laundry services
Last updated: 20/12/2016
Yacht laundry involves much more than simply the action of washing clothes and bed linen. In fact, the essential act of superyacht laundry is not just restricted to the daily laundering of crew and guest laundry, table and bed linen; the stewardess will also be responsible for the pressing, folding and storage of all linens on board, managing external laundry services and maintaining immaculate cleanliness, tidiness and hygiene in the yacht’s laundry department.
But, when stewardesses are up against the clock or there is a particularly difficult or delicate garment in place to wash, there is often some room for outsourcing laundry from the superyacht to shoreside professionals. Yachting Pages presents a guide to outsourcing yacht laundry, including insight into dry and wet cleaning, caring for fine fabrics, and selecting an effective dockside dry cleaner.
Yacht laundry: The low down
Whether aboard a superyacht, or in your own home, Avi from Mega Yacht Cleaning outlined the three options for washing and cleaning fabrics, textiles and linens:
- Dry cleaning
- Wet cleaning
The method you choose to use will often depend on the instructions found on the care label of garments and textiles, but geographical location and budget also come into consideration, especially when travelling the world aboard a superyacht!
Where possible, it is always recommended to choose a launderette or dry cleaner that offers all three laundry methods so that they can take care of your fabrics properly without the risk of colour loss, shrinkage and wrinkles.
Dry cleaning: Myths and legends
Simply put, dry cleaning is a method that cleans fabrics without the use of water, instead using a specialist solvent called tetrachloroethylene, or perchlorethylene, known in the industry as “perc”.
Used to cleanse delicate fabrics that cannot tolerate an intensive or regular machine wash, dry cleaning offers a gentler cleaning option. For certain fabrics in particular, dry cleaning drastically reduces the risk of colour loss, wrinkles and shrinkage, making it important to follow the care label instruction to dry clean where possible.
Coralie from Nautiplus Toulon explained, “The gentler process of dry cleaning uses the solvent trichloroethylene, also known in the industry as ‘perc’, to clean the stain.”
When trying to determine which fabrics should be dry cleaned, understanding the process and material type is important. According to experts, it is not simply just about checking the label as many care labels aren’t entirely accurate; some ‘dry clean only’ garments can in fact be safely cleaned using a hand washing method. The trick is to use a dry cleaner with an expert knowledge of fabrics and the ways in which they wash, that way there will never be any doubt.
Avi from Mega Yacht Cleaning explained how certain fabrics will always hold on to wrinkles if washed in the domestic washer; although some fabrics may come out perfectly fine after a machine wash, they may hold on to wrinkles that even a dryer or steam cannot shake out. For this reason, it’s usually best to dry clean, rather than put them in the washer.
Which materials should be dry cleaned to avoid shrinkage?
While most fabrics can be dry-cleaned safely, those that cannot include synthetic materials composed of plastic, PVC and polyurethane, as these materials would deteriorate during the cleaning process.
Although everyday fabrics such as cottons and polyester should be fine to wash in the machine, those with complicated fabric blends, intricate designs or patterns may also need to be dry-cleaned. In any event, seeking advice from a professional will offer invaluable insight.
Aside from laundering, additional care must be taken when ironing delicate fabrics. Materials that are sensitive to washing are often also sensitive to other treatment techniques; therefore extra care and effort must be taken for determining proper pressing techniques.
One of these techniques is steaming: Steaming is the process of passing heat in the form of steam through the fabric in order to relax the fibers and remove creases and wrinkles; however no physical contact is made with the fabric. The process of steaming leaves the fabric softer. While hand pressing leaves fabrics smoother, you may be left with a ‘harder’ finish.
Is there an alternative to dry cleaning?
For a long time, there was no safe alternative to dry cleaning. Now, the ability to safely clean a large amount of clothes in an economically viable way becomes possible, with the development of wet cleaning machines.
A relatively new line of high-tech commercial washing and drying machines increase the lifespan of dry clean-only garments in wet washing, by controlling factors such as mechanical action and temperature that can cause garment shrinkage.
By reducing reliance on ‘perc’, wet cleaning successfully cleanses clothing and textiles while reducing the negative environmental impacts of dry cleaning. This method can therefore help dry cleaners to provide clients with the same high quality service, while avoiding the burdens of regulation and liability.
Choosing the right yacht laundry company
Carmen commented, “A good laundry service should offer personalised services for each client, and if you have stained items, it’s important to find a launderette that will treat the stains separately and not just put everything into the laundry machine together, as the stain will never disappear this way.”
With the very nature of a superyacht, and the busy schedules of captains and crew on board, you should always source a company with a punctual delivery service. However, Avi reminded us how important it is to find a service with a sterling reputation for methods as well as delivery; “It’s not unheard of for dry cleaning businesses to deliver laundry to the wrong destination, therefore it is important to find a business with a good reputation.”