Linen Care: Common Staining Issues

Common Laundry Stains Common Laundry Stains
Jana Fiegel
Sr Portfolio Manager North America, Diversey
Jul 12, 2022

Many hotels opt for white linen for its crisp, classic and clean appearance. Yet stains from cosmetics, beverages, room service meals, bodily fluids like saliva, blood and sweat, and even shoe polish are very visible against white linen.

Thankfully, housekeeping can take steps to ensure effective stain removal and hotel laundries can follow recommendations to keep stains and in-wash issues from ruining linen. Together, these best practices will prolong the life of linen, reduce rewash rates and support guest satisfaction, sustainability and the bottom line.

The Importance of Washing Linen Correctly

Handling and washing linen correctly the first time prevents additional marks, removes the maximum number of stains and prevents rewash, thereby lengthening linen life. If processes aren’t managed properly, rewash will result in higher operational costs because additional wash cycles require more water, chemical, energy and labor. 

Proper laundering also reduces the risk that a stained piece of washed linen slips through the quality checks and ends up in a room, which can negatively impact a hotel’s image and guest satisfaction.

Preventing Stains 

Laundries can prevent certain stains from ever occurring, including:

  • Staff misuse stains result from inadequate linen transport, during which linen drops from overloaded trolleys onto floors and housekeepers walk on the linen, or linen gets caught in feeder or folder rolls, rusty belts or in the automatic folder. Removing these grey and black marks is almost impossible and can only be done with an extremely high dosage of a special detergent. This is costly, so the best solution is to properly train staff to avoid situations that lead to stains.
  • Guest misuse stains can arise if a guest uses a towel for an alternate use, such as polishing shoes. Housekeeping managers can dramatically reduce these stains by supplying a shoe cleaning cloth in the room.
  • Color bleeding and dye transfer, which often happens with table linen, results when the textile supplier does not properly fix the dye to the fabric. Dye bleeding is accelerated by washing at high temperatures and/or high pH. Purchasing high-quality linen made from 100 percent cotton can alleviate color bleeding concerns.


Removing Stains

To prevent the wash process from setting stains or creating new ones, laundry managers should keep water treatment and product selection and usage in mind.


Although many laundries are aware of the negative influence of water hardness on the removal of fatty and oily stains, an often underestimated factor in proper stain removal is the presence of heavy metals in the incoming fresh water. Iron and copper have an especially strong negative influence on stain removal so proper water treatment is key.

Laundries should carefully select detergents that have been tested on a wide variety of stains and linen types. For instance, a detergent should be able to remove complex metals found in water without interacting with bleach to remove stains and reduce accelerated loss of tensile strength.

Cleanliness = Comfort

The quality of hotel linen can make or break a guest’s stay. On-premises laundries must train staff in misuse of linen and proper stain removal to keep linen looking its best and to prolong lifespan. Following these best practices and recommended wash processes will ensure customer satisfaction and help reduce overall costs.   

For more information about stain removal, visit our Clax Magic page.