Have you ever been in a big hotel, or a hospital, and thought about where all that laundry gets done? A few months ago I was wondering just that when I was visiting a friend in hospital, and my wondering led me to the "FM Vaskeri”, the building where for over 100 years the laundry of Copenhagen’s five public hospitals is washed, dried, pressed and folded.
”We get dirty laundry, items from the people working at the hospitals, and from the patients at the hospitals, beds and so on” says Svend Aage Christensen who is in charge of the laundry. “We start by sorting it so we've got same kind of items in a bag. We put approximately 50 kilos in the bag, and we have two big washing machines that can wash between one and two tons an hour.” These 8 meter long washing machine are just some of the tools that help the 110 employees at the laundry wash 40 to 50 thousand items a day. “We wash approximately 20 tons a day, 100 tons a week” explains Svend. Everything is washed at 60 degrees celsius to make sure no germs are left.
You might imagine that some items are too soiled to be reused, but it turns out the real problem is not blood and faeces, but something a little less obvious. “Sometimes pens get left in pockets, and we don’t have much luck washing items when that happens. But almost everything else can be washed many, many times” says Svend. For this reason, there is a special light table that employees use to inspect items as they come into the laundry, making sure nothing is left in the pockets.