Laundry Assistant/Manager

The Job and What's Involved

A laundry assistant/manager works in a laundry and is responsible for laundering items such as:

  • Bed linen and duvets.
  • Hospital linen.
  • Towels, bathmats and facecloths.
  • Restaurant table linen and chefswear.
  • Work shirts that need washing and pressing.
  • Laundry-owned items that are rented out, such as work clothing, bedding and towels.

Laundry workers may be involved in the following tasks:

  • Working in a reception or collection area checking items being received.
  • Collecting and delivering items in a van or lorry.
  • Sorting items by colour, size or fabric type, or operating mechanised sorting equipment.
  • Weighing and loading laundry into cleaning and washing machines.
  • Working in the finishing section where articles are dried, pressed, ironed, steamed and folded.
  • Checking that articles have been thoroughly cleaned.
  • Repairing garments and textiles.
  • Packing, bagging or hanging items ready for collection.

In a smaller laundry they may have to do all these tasks, but in a larger laundry they are more likely to work in one particular section of the process.

They may liaise with people from other departments. For example, in a hospital they might work with hospital porters who collect and deliver items.

Laundry managers are responsible for making sure that the laundry staff carry out their duties. They may also do management tasks such as maintaining profitability and setting targets, accounting and payroll duties, recruiting and training staff, and making sure health and safety requirements are met.

Many laundering processes involve using machinery such as washer-extractors, tumble-dryers, irons and garment-finishing equipment.

Laundry workers usually work 35 to 40 hours a week in shifts. Many laundries are open six or seven days a week, including Saturdays and evenings. Part-time work and overtime may be available.

Laundries can be warm, crowded and noisy places. The work can involve a lot of walking, stretching and lifting. Uniforms or protective clothing may be provided.

The work may be unsuitable for people who suffer from allergies due to the regular use of detergents.

Starting salaries for laundry assistants may be around £11,500 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Laundry assistants/managers are employed throughout the UK, although most laundries are in urban areas. They may work in:

  • Commercial laundries.
  • Smaller domestic laundry companies which offer a delivery and collection service.
  • Laundry departments in places such as hotels, hospitals and prisons.
  • Textile renting companies that rent out, launder and maintain items such as corporate uniforms, protective work clothing, or hospital or hotel bed linen.

Jobs are advertised in Connexions centres and Jobcentre Plus offices, in local newspapers and on company websites. Magazines such as Laundry and Cleaning Today also have recruitment sections.

Education and Training

There are no set academic requirements to become a laundry worker, although literacy and numeracy skills are important. Employers look for young people who are reliable and willing to work to high standards. It may help to have practical skills or previous experience of working in a laundry, cleaning or dry-cleaning environment.

Commercial laundries may not allow employees less than 18 years of age to operate certain types of machinery.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Training usually takes place on the job, under the supervision of experienced colleagues. Many organisations offer in-house training and the opportunity to study for relevant qualifications:

  • The Guild of Cleaners and Launderers offers qualifications in all practical laundry subjects.
  • SATRA offers a number of short courses related to laundering.
  • The Society of Hospital Linen Service and Laundry Managers offers training for all those involved in healthcare linen services.
  • NVQ/SVQ Level 2 in Laundry Operations or Laundry Service Support.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A laundry worker needs to be:

  • Fit and healthy to cope with the physical demands of the work.
  • Able to work well within a team.
  • Able to operate complex machinery.
  • Able to follow instructions.
  • Good at counting and measuring.
  • Prepared to do routine and repetitive work.
  • Methodical, with high standards.
  • Aware of health and safety regulations, especially infection control in hospitals.
  • Reliable and punctual.

Your Long Term Prospects

With experience and training, promotion is possible for hard working and enthusiastic employees. Laundry assistants may progress to supervisory or managerial roles, and eventually to the job of laundry manager.

It may be possible for laundry managers to become self-employed and set up their own businesses.

Get Further Information

Guild of Cleaners and Launderers (GCL),
1 Wellfield Road, Offerton, Stockport,
Cheshire SK2 6AS
Tel: 0845 600 1838

SATRA, SATRA House, Rockingham Road,
Kettering, Northamptonshire NN16 8SD
Tel: 01536 410000

Skillfast-UK, Richmond House,
Lawnswood Business Park, Leeds LS16 6RD
Tel: 0113 239 9600

Society of Hospital Linen Service and Laundry Managers,
Linen Services Manager, Airedale General Hospital,
Steeton, Keighley BD20 6TD
Tel: 01535 294231

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