This section is from the book "Modern Buildings, Their Planning, Construction And Equipment Vol6", by G. A. T. Middleton. Also available from Amazon: Modern Buildings.
(Contributed by H. C. Queree)
In a well-appointed steam laundry, such as that erected at Filey (Fig. 132) from the plans of Mr. H. Davis, F.R.I.B.A., or that illustrated in Plate V., both of which were executed by Messrs. W. Summerscales & Sons Ltd., the goods on arrival are checked, booked, marked, and sorted out according to colour and kind of material. Flannels, linens, silks, curtains, etc. are separated and placed in their respective bins, which are made of wood, in number and size to suit the requirements and wishes of the manager. A useful size is 3 feet wide, 4 feet deep, and 3 feet high. Such bins may be constructed as boxes, or may have one side open, as shown in the sorting-room in Fig. 132.
The floor is usually made of good cement concrete, and the architect would be wise to consult the laundry engineers as to whether any of the machinery requires special foundations, some of the heavier types of hydro-extractors being of that category, although those now being made are so well balanced that an ordinary floor will safely carry them. In the wash-house there is naturally a great wastage of overflow water, and provision must be made to carry this away. The floor should be made slightly sloping towards the sides, so leaving the centre gangway perfectly dry. All drainage within the laundry should be of the open-channel type, smaller gutters leading to the main channel from the outlets of washing machines, hydros, etc. It is deemed advisable that the gutter should empty in a cesspit, where grease, etc., can accumulate and be cleaned out - together with any buttons, etc., which may have got astray in the course of washing. Where objection is taken to this cesspit, the water may waste into a gulley trap, and so away to the sewer.
The goods, after having been sorted, are then washed and rinsed, in some cases by hand, in others by machinery; silks and curtains, which require great care, being always washed, rinsed, and wrung out by hand till thoroughly free from dirt or spots, when they are boiled and rinsed, either once or more often, and then wrung out and placed in a hydro-extractor which drains out the water. Where the hydro is not used the goods are taken through the wringing machine.
The next step is either to take goods direct to the ironing machine, or to further dry them in a heated room, or by means of specially constructed drying closets. Such delicate articles as -silk blouses, etc., would probably be hung on rails in the laundry itself, the heat derived therefrom being sufficient for the purpose of drying them.
Where articles have to be blued they are placed, after going through the washing process, in a blueing machine, or left in the washing machine and blue added to the boiling water. In some laundries it is preferred to do this by hand, by immersing goods in a trough built of brickwork, lined inside with white glazed tile and outside with wood sheeting.
As to starching, there are two processes in vogue, but that which has been most generally used in England is known as the raw-starch process, in which, as the name implies, the starch is used in an uncooked state. After its application the goods are taken to the hydro, where the moisture is, to a great extent, extracted; and, whilst still wet, they are passed on to the ironing machine to be finished, the starch being thus cooked under the hot roll of the machine; for it is essential that the starch should be cooked at some time during the operation, so as to give the glazed finish to starched goods. The boiled-starch process is largely used in America, and is being adopted by our newest laundries. In this case the starch is put into the linen ready cooked, and the goods are then placed in a box-like press which extracts any surplus starch, and are then dried, and again passed into another press (Fig. 133), which dampens the goods before they are finished in the ironing machine.
The goods, having gone through their complete re-cleansing process, are sent to an ordinary large-sized table, where the forewoman examines them as to their cleanliness, finish, etc., and if satisfied forwards them to another table, which must be of good capacity, from which they are taken to packing tables, preferably in a separate packing-room (see Fig. 132), sorted out and placed in wall racks, each customer having one or more racks according to the quantity of goods sent. These racks are made of wooden uprights and battens, and may be of any size as required; but a compartment, 2 feet 3 inches wide, 2 feet 3 inches deep, and 1 foot 6 inches high, will be found convenient.
The Filey Laundry, which may be considered as a typical one, cost £2541 exclusive of site, but inclusive of buildings, machinery, well-sinking, pumps, and water softener.
In laundries in connection with hospitals, asylums, and other such public institutions, where it is essential that all goods should first of all be thoroughly disinfected, special machines are provided. For ordinary laundries, however, this does not apply.