On the Line / Operations / How to Choose a Restaurant Laundry Service

How to Choose a Restaurant Laundry Service

Thinking about hiring a restaurant laundry service? Here's everything you need to know.

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DISCLAIMER: This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal, accounting, tax, HR, or other professional advice. You are responsible for your own compliance with laws and regulations. You should contact your attorney or other relevant advisor for advice specific to your circumstances.

Restaurant linens can help develop a restaurant’s visual appeal – establishing a theme, providing elegance or a whimsical touch, and pulling together the overall appearance of your tables. Many restaurants take these linens seriously, opting for high-quality, crisp white tablecloths and napkins. Though these touches help create a memorable ambiance, their maintenance isn’t always the easiest. 

And what’s more, the linens on a restaurant’s table aren’t even the #1 source of a restaurant’s laundry needs: that’d be the chef’s jackets, aprons, and rags. So, so, so many rags. For every shift, say you have 4 cooks, 1 dishwasher, and 1 sous chef working. That’s six jackets, six aprons, and anywhere between 12 and 24 rags to wash after just one shift. Now multiply that by however many shifts your restaurant does a week, and the piles of laundry get almost comically large.

All these kitchen textiles also get so much dirtier than anything would in a home kitchen. The number and volume of spills, splashes, and scuffs in a professional kitchen are infinitely higher — not to mention how sweaty it can get in a kitchen, especially during the summer.

Unfortunately, this means laundry. A lot of laundry.  

Enter: restaurant laundry services. These companies do the laundering for you, ensuring that your cooks have clean uniforms and rage, and that linens stay spotless for each guest. 

Keep reading to learn more about picking a restaurant laundry service for your establishment. 

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Why do you need a restaurant laundry service? 

At the beginning of every shift, every single line cook and prep cook runs to the pile of clean rags and snags a couple to use during a shift, aiming to keep at least one of them on the drier side, and keeping track of which one is getting dirtier and might need replacing. If you’re running low on clean rags, you’ll be faced not only with less-happy cooks, but with a less hygienic environment for them to cook in — which can lead to a world of trouble. 

And a guest’s restaurant experience is built from more than just the food. A great experience also consists of the people, service and atmosphere of a restaurant. Soiled and stained table linens will always detract from the experience, and are sure-fire ways to deter guests from returning. 

While of course you can attempt to wash everything in-house, this can be laborious and time consuming, which is why few restaurants even have laundry machines on site. Here are a few pros when it comes to hiring a restaurant laundry service: 

  • Consistent and reliable results from working with cleaning professionals 

  • It’s efficient and convenient to have someone come by daily (or slightly less frequently) to pick up the ever-growing bags of laundry to be washed

  • Since restaurant laundry services use industrial machines, they can wash more, faster and at a much lower cost

How much do restaurant laundry services cost?

Restaurant laundry services can range from extremely affordable to expensive. Most restaurant laundry services charge between $0.95 and $3 per pound of laundry. These restaurant linen service prices can add up quickly (especially for high-volume restaurants), but many laundry services will offer discounts for recurring services, bringing the average cost of linen service significantly down. 

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How to choose a restaurant laundry service

Here are a few steps to take as you get started choosing a restaurant laundry service.

Think about your requirements

What kind of linens do you need laundered? If you’re a fast casual or quick service restaurant, you likely don’t have cloth napkins or tablecloths, so your laundry needs might be limited to aprons and dishtowels. If you’re a fine dining establishment, the load might be a lot higher — every diner that sits at a table will generate at least one cloth napkin to be washed, so it can lead to a dizzying number if you think about the weekly number of napkins used. 

Take inventory of what you’ll need laundered in a typical week, and keep this in mind when weighing the pros and cons of different providers. 

Create a budget

As established, restaurant laundry services can be expensive. Look at your current restaurant budget, and determine how much can be allocated towards laundry. We know that cash-flow can be complicated, so check out this resource on balancing your restaurant budget, here. 

Look at review sites

Yelp, Consumer Reports, and Google all have powerful review functionalities, so take advantage of this and pay attention to what other customers are reporting. You’ll want a laundry service that fits your needs, is professional and reliable, and of course, has a great reputation, so make sure that the one you chose checks all these boxes.  

Talk to other restaurants

The restaurant industry is tight-knit, so talk to other restaurants in your area and ask them what laundry services they use and recommend. Reviews from friends are always reliable, and pay attention to what names come up over and over. 

Laundry time!

A great restaurant laundry service will save you time and money, allowing you to spend more time focusing on running a great business. For more information on optimizing your operations, check out these resources.

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