Keeping Tabs on Your Laundry Bill


From aprons and towels in the kitchen to tablecloths and napkins in the dining room, linen needs in a restaurant can be a huge expense— especially with the high costs of laundry services. If you have the room for a washer and dryer, consider doing your own laundry. Even with the expense of the washer and dryer and their maintenance, the extra labor costs and the water bill, you may still come out ahead.

For most operators, however, on-site laundering isn’t an option. That’s why you need to keep close tabs on what gets thrown into the laundry basket. One manager looked at the cost of laundering towels, aprons, etc., and found it was about 2 cents per item. She didn’t think it was much of a problem until she discovered cooks were tossing aprons into the laundry basket after one minor spill and that busers were tossing dishcloths into the hamper after just one run out into the dining room.

She promptly set up linen pars and handed out exactly what was reasonable to use each shift and within each area of the restaurant. If there were six cooks on duty, each was given an apron to use. Set numbers were also established for bar towels, dish towels for bus staff, and aprons for servers. With linen pars in place, she had a better handle on what she could expect to spend each month in the linen and laundry department.

Look at floor mat maintenance as well. Whether entry mats or rubber non-skid mats in areas of the restaurant tending to get wet, examine the cost of renting vs. buying. In some cases, it may make sense to buy the mats and clean them internally while in other cases it makes more sense to let the linen company switch the mats out. Either way it is an expense, but far less costly than a slip and fall accident by a guest or employee. Safety first!

The Bottom Line

One manager noted that although it cost just 2 cents to clean a towel, after just one month of setting linen pars and locking up the towels that she was saving an average of $32 a week on her laundry bill: $32 x 52 weeks = $1,664.00 saved in laundry service fees for the year.

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