Do I need the Test Piece Service?

As an efficient, cost-conscious laundry manager you know the importance of maximizing linen life through improved laundering techniques. ALM's Test Piece Service provides you with the tools necessary for quality assurance monitoring of whiteness retention, tensile strength loss and chlorine bleach carryover.

Since linen represents a major expense, proper wash formulas are required to extend its useful life and to minimize replacement costs. Accuracy of the wash formula is determined by analyzing a ALM test piece after 5 or 20 washings.

Objective testing offers fast results and reliable service. The testing lab, located at the University of Kentucky, functions specifically for ALM's Test Piece Service. The quality of testing is insured by laboratory objectivity since the lab technicians are independent of ALM.

As an ALM member you can subscribe to this testing service and receive either 4, 6, or 12 test swatches yearly, or you may purchase individual swatches.

What types of test procedures are used?

The use of a laundry test piece service allows the user to monitor his/her washing results. It enables you to evaluate the effectiveness of your current laundry procedures or you can compare the whiteness retention, tensile strength and chlorine retention results of any new method or formulation with those of the previous one.


White is defined as the absence of color. The formula used to calculate the whiteness of the test piece will utilize the CIE concept that the perfect whiteness index of 100.00 is the preferred white. The test piece as it is supplied to the subscriber has an average whiteness index of 79.5. After the test piece has been laundered (five or twenty times) and returned to the lab, the whiteness of your test piece will be measured and the absolute whiteness index will be reported. If the whiteness index of your test piece measures 79.5, you have maintained the initial whiteness level of the test piece. If the whiteness index is 85, you have experienced an increase in whiteness. On the other hand, if the whiteness index is 75, you have experienced a loss in whiteness.

Causes of increase in whiteness:

  • Optical brightener-in most laundry detergents
  • Bleaching
  • Bluing

Causes for loss of fabric whiteness:

  • Decomposition of optical brighteners: light exposure
  • Chemical yellowing: alkaline detergent or bleaching with oxidizing agent like peroxide or perborate
  • Natural yellowing
  • Discoloration of white polyester (Typically blue or green)
  • Soil Redeposit ion: (greying, yellowing or general of fabrics that result from soil onto fabrics during laundering)
  • Overloading the washer
  • Insufficient hot water
  • Improper soaking
  • Overlong wash period
  • Improper use of sud-return system
  • Insufficient detergent

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Refers to the ability of a fabric to resist tearing and breaking under tension. Prior to mailing the test piece, we measure the tensile strength of an unlaundered sample that acts as a control for the test piece that you receive as a subscriber. The average strength of an unlaundered sample is 62 lbs. After you launder the test piece and return it, the tensile strength of the laundered sample test piece is measured. If the tensile strength of the laundered test piece was 62 lbs., then there has been no loss or gain in tensile strength. If the test piece results were 60 lbs., the tensile strength loss would be 3.2%. However, if the tensile strength of the laundered test piece was 64 lbs., there would be a 3.2 gain in shrinkage that has occurred in the test piece itself. If the fabric shrinks after launderings, then there are more yarns per inch and hence one can expect an increase in tensile strength.

Causes of excessive tensile strength loss:

  • Bleach: Of all the chemicals laundries use, bleach can be the most damaging
  • Alkalines: The combination of highly alkaline builders and very high temperatures leads to high TSL
  • Mechanical Damage: Cuts, tears, ruptures, or abrasive wear
  • Autoclave problems: Antiseptic damage.
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A drop of orthotolidine indicator on the item will remain colorless if no bleach is present. A product turning a bright yellow on exposure to orthotolidine, indicates that a high amount of bleach is present. This means that bleach is not being decomposed during the washing cycle; and the high temperatures of the drying cycle and of pressing decompose the remaining bleach resulting in yellowing and abnormal tensile strength loss.

Bleach carry-over can usually be corrected by additional running time for the bleach bath which allows the bleach more time to decompose, the use of an anticlor, or both. This is particularly true in permanent press sheet laundering, where urea formaldehyde resin in the fabric results in chlorine retention.

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Payment must accompany all orders.

There are two types of swatches that are available. There is a 5 Wash and a 20 Wash service. Both are laundered and handled identically, with the exception that one is processed 5 times and the other 20 times.  The 20-wash piece yields a clear picture of your facility's processes and the most accurate results.  The 5-wash piece was initially designed for smaller facilities that cannot process a 20-wash piece in one month.  The results provided be either service is reliable, but the 20-wash is preferred for increased accuracy.  If your facility cannot process a 20-wash piece, you may select the 5-wash service.  Note: You must utilize the test-piece services within one year of order date.  Swatches will not be processed after the year has lapsed.

Membership Prices for 5 or 20 Wash:
  • 12 swatches...........$384
  • 6 swatches.............$192
  • 4 swatches.............$128
  • Individual swatch.......$35 each
Non-Member Prices for 5 or 20 Wash:
  • 12 swatches............$540
  • 6 swatches..............$270
  • 4 swatches..............$180
  • Individual swatch.......$45 each


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Have questions?

Call the ALM office for additional information,
or e-mail

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Association for Linen Management
4350 Brownsboro Rd # 310
Louisville, KY 40207
859-624-8878       Fax: 859-454-4454      1-800-645-8787
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