Contract textiles might have the same name as domestic textiles for household items such as sheets, pillowcases, duvets, towels and blankets but they are worlds apart in terms of performance specification and expectation.
In contrast to domestic textiles, contract textiles are subject to multiple washes and laundry cycles in commercial laundries (many, many times more than domestic household textile) and will need to be engineered to a sufficiently high quality standard to withstand such demands in the laundry during it’s lifetime. With a contract standard specification one can maximise and optimise the life of the textile item in a commercial environment despite the challenges in the laundry processing environment.
Failure to specify the product correctly will lead to colour changes, tears, holes and generally poor finishing at the laundry leading to possible rejection by the end user.
When the fabric comes off the weaving looms it is imperative to scour, de-size, and remove the final dressing. If the stentering process has failed and the warp and weft are not square then the sheets will bow and skew.
Fabric dressing or starch will disguise the true weight and quality of a sheet and one should weigh the sheet before and after five washes. There should be no more than a 2% variation in weight. If there is a bigger difference then the yarn count is lower than stated. Caveat emptor!
There are other important points to look out for in contract textiles. For example, in the case of bed linen it is always advisable to wash the sheets from new at least six times to remove starch, finishing chemicals and other textile finishes. Also the sheet will start to settle to its final size after initial dimensional changes in the warp and weft.
Tensile strength and shrinkage are all important issues with contract textiles. By ensuring the specification is set correctly in the first place and careful monitoring of the bulk items supplied, disappointment and unwanted surprises can be avoided.
In the case of towels checking the weight is essential as the quality and mass of yarns will determine all aspects of the towel’s life. If the towels are under the specified weight then it is likely that the ground weave will be coarse and the pile loops will then pull and snag more easily.
Again, like the linen (cotton, polycotton or polyester) it is very important to pre wash to remove the yarn oils thus ensuring a soft handle with tightly gripped loops with maximum absorbency. This will avoid the towel being prone to stringing / snagging and breaking down.