I own a successful coin laundry in a small town in the Midwest. One of my promotions is giving my customers free detergent – all they need Monday through Friday. The problem I have is that some of the customers use too much of the detergent and over-suds the washers.

I was thinking of mixing the detergent with water, cutting it by 50 percent. Will this work? Should I do it?

It depends on the detergent. Some detergents contain solids that emulsify only when heated at a certain temperature and given a certain amount of time. Some less-expensive detergents emulsify in warm water only.

You could try mixing your detergent with warm water and then let the solution sit for a couple of days to see if there is a separation. Generally, if there is separation, the solids will sink to the bottom.

Other the other hand, why go through all of this? Perhaps just give your customers less detergent. Buy some cups that will hold only the proper amount of detergent for a certain size of washer. For example, you could have a four-ounce cup for your toploaders, a six-ounce cup for your 50-pound washers and so on.

I have stains inside of my gas dryers on the backs of the drums. Is there anything that can be used to remove these stains without scratching the finish?

There are a number of synthetic cleaning pads available at the retail level that can do the job. You likely can purchase these pads at your local supermarket. They should remove the stains without scratching your stainless steel dryer drums.

My store is three years old and approximately 4,000 square feet. It’s in pristine condition, has great parking and a lot of large machines. However, a new laundry opened up about a mile and a half from me and is taking away some of my business.

I was thinking of dropping my vend prices, giving away a free wash for every five paid washes, or perhaps going to free dry and raising the vend prices on my washers. What do you think?

Honestly, I don’t think any of those ideas are very smart. What’s to keep your competitor from duplicating whatever promotion or giveaway you implement – and, if that happens, you will lose whatever advantage you may have gained; at that point, all you’ve done is create a headache for yourself and a loss of revenue for your business.

In fact, the only time I would recommend extreme promotions is if you’re trying to attract customers away from surrounding apartment buildings. Today’s route operators have become very aggressive with their pricing and with the types of equipment they are putting into the buildings.

But, for you, my advice would be to keep your store clean, well maintained, bright and friendly. Remember, if you gain a customer because of a giveaway or a promotion, that customer generally will eventually go back to where he or she came from, if everything else is equal.

I recently acquired a commercial account, and I’m having problems removing some basic stains. I’m washing the items in 50-pound frontloaders; the cycles consist of a wash and three rinses; my water temperature is 120 degrees; and I’m using name-brand detergent. What else do I need to do?

You need to add a pre-wash cycle of at least three to seven minutes – this will go a long way toward breaking down those stains.

Also, because you can’t get your water temperature above 120 degrees, you should use a commercial-grade detergent that contains enzymes. This type of product should help you tackle some of those more stubborn commercial stains.

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