Processing linens for local hospital and nursing homes can be a lucrative side business for many cleaners. Some items may show stiffening barriers, cracks, and rips after repeated washing. Here's what is happening and how to prevent this sort of damage.
Repeated commercial processing may damage the barriers used on incontinent pads and adult briefs. The repeated exposure to chlorine bleach, which is often used as a cleansing product and sterilizer in commercial processes, can break down the barrier material. The bleach tends to dry out and weaken the vinyl. Once the vinyl becomes stiff, the areas that are folded or creased will crack and develop into holes.
In addition, exposure to high heat in tumble drying can degrade the barrier, resulting in stiffness, self-sticking, and cracking.
To minimize the damage, reduce the amount of bleach used in processing and make sure you have sufficient rinsing. Lowering the temperatures in drying also may prevent some damage from occurring.
The rip on this incontinent pad is an example of the types of
damage that can occur after repeated washings.