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Laundry Excellence at King Edward's Witley

Published Tuesday 6th of January 2015 10:13:14 AM

Next time someone in your house complains about doing the washing or ironing a few shirts, spare a thought for Karine Butcher, Laundry Manager at King Edward's Witley, a boarding school for girls and boys aged 11-18 near Godalming, Surrey. Every week (apart from school holidays) Karine and her team of three are tasked with completing the washing and dry cleaning associated with keeping the boarders at this leading independent boarding school with over 400 pupils looking immaculate, whether they are in school uniform, or in their personal 'out of school' clothes.

Of course since the School provides a home from home experience to its boarding pupils, it is not only clothing that needs to be laundered. Sheets, duvets, towels, curtains and soft furnishings from the nine boarding houses are all added to the weekly wash. And as if it that wasn't enough, during the Easter and Summer holidays, King Edward's Witley opens its doors to overseas students from China, Mexico, Spain and parts of Russia. These students visit the School to learn English (as well as studying other modules) and the laundry service is extended to them and their tutors during their stay, while the professional dry cleaning service is also used by local members of the general public!

To keep up with this significant work load Karine, who has spent over 12 years in the dry cleaning and laundry industry, runs the service with impressive efficiency not to mention enthusiasm. Since taking over the reins of the laundry at King Edward's four years ago, Karine has implemented a number of changes to increase the overall success of the laundry operation.

The washing machines at the School are quite unlike any you would find in a regular home. They range in size from 7kg 32 kg (a typical domestic machine is 6-8 kg). Rather than adding the cleaning agent manually, the machines are connected up to pipe work which ensures each machine has the relevant detergent / chemical automatically pumped in via a specific programme selection. This makes for a more energy efficient / economical method of operation as each machine is programmed for the various specific washing loads generated by the School.

Ironing each school shirt for Sixth Form boarders on an individual basis (uniform shirts for the rest of the school are poly cotton so don't require pressing) would be incredibly time intensive - this equates to 300 shirts per week minimum- so the new shirt machine is an absolute godsend. Similar to a trouser press, it makes light work of the job, taking a damp shirt and transforming it into a beautifully pressed garment in under a minute! The machine can also tackle the many crumpled jackets, which make their way into the laundry!

An in-house Dry Cleaning facility within a boarding school is extremely rare it is more commonplace to outsource this service which is not only very costly, it also involves a substantial risk of items of clothing going astray! One of Karine's earliest recommendations was to invest in a new spotting table to replace the existing rather antiquated version. For the uninitiated, a spotting table is a vital piece of equipment for any professional laundry setting, and it is used to 'pre-spot' stains. Anything from food, blood, ink, glue stains magically disappears once under the attack of a hot steam gun and a range of spotting agents. Once the stain has been 'lifted' the item will either go into the dry cleaning or washing machine.

King Edward's Witley is renowned for its exceptional hospitality and part of that relates to the very highest standards of presentation. Another new addition to the laundry is the state of the art flatwork ironer which, ensures all the table linen (and sheets) are crisp and totally crease free for the numerous prestigious events hosted by the School. These include Open Mornings, Award Ceremonies, Leavers' Day and the formal Admissions Day that the Lord Mayor of the City of London attends in full livery and procession.

As a member of the Guild of Cleaners and Launderers Karine makes it her business to keep on top of all the latest innovations in the laundry world, so King Edward's Witley parents' can rest assured that their children will always be impeccably turned out under Karine's watchful eye!
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