Better To Be Safe Than Sorry! Preventing Spontaneous Combustion

Aug 10, 2023

Laundry processes exist for a reason!

Unfamiliar with the concept of spontaneous combustion in dryers? No worries. While it’s a rare occurrence, it does happen occasionally. Speed Queen dryers are engineered to be durable and are designed to minimise the chances of fire. However, there are three straightforward measures that commercial on-premise laundries can take to further decrease the risks.

Spontaneous Combustion

Spontaneous combustion can arise when garments or linens are not adequately cleansed, leaving behind combustible chemicals. When these items are placed in a dryer, it can result in spontaneous combustion. Generally, this is more of a procedural issue rather than a flaw in the product itself.

For instance, imagine a towel used to clean up an oil spill that wasn’t thoroughly washed, leaving some oil residue. If this towel and several others were then dried and heated in a dryer before being left overnight, they would continue to generate warmth. Eventually, the residual oil could ignite, leading to the destruction of the dryer.

Most Speed Queen dryers incorporate safety mechanisms to mitigate the risk of spontaneous combustion. One such feature is the “cooldown cycle,” which involves periodic tumbling to lower the temperature inside the machine and minimise the risk of combustion. Moreover, many Speed Queen dryers are designed to vent heat like a fireplace if something ignites inside, limiting the potential damage.

The Human Factor

In most cases, spontaneous combustion can be attributed to human error. For example, it could occur when a new employee mistakenly uses “formula 4” instead of “formula 5,” resulting in garments retaining residual grease when placed in the dryer. Alternatively, an employee may interrupt the cooldown cycle to expedite their laundry process.

Nevertheless, the solution to reducing the risk is simple: education.

  • Identify potential fire sources, such as oils commonly used in your machines.
  • Select appropriate cleaning chemicals for use in your machines.
  • Educate your staff to ensure they understand the correct process for cleaning garments and linens.

By implementing these three simple steps, the risk of spontaneous combustion will be minimal, and you can have peace of mind knowing that your machines will operate safely and efficiently.

Interested in learning more?