Choosing a Washer-Extractor for your Commercial Laundry

Choosing a Washer-Extractor for your Commercial Laundry

It’s critical to purchase the right machine for your commercial laundry since picking the wrong machine will certainly lead to headaches and heartaches when you are at your busiest time. Today, we’ll take a look at a few options that you’ll have when choosing the best machine for your laundry application.

Hardmount versus Softmount

There are two types of commercial washer-extractors, hardmount and softmount or freestanding style. The difference is in how the forces that are generated during the extract section of the wash program are handled.

A hardmount machine is bolted directly to the floor and all forces generated by the machine during the final spin are transmitted directly to the floor. Due to these high forces, a hardmount machine must be installed on a thick concrete pad, requiring at least 6-12 inches (150-300mm) of high-strength reinforced concrete. If you are replacing an existing hardmount machine, it may be easiest to simply choose another machine of the same size if the floor is in good condition. For new construction, this will be an added expense and it may make more sense to choose a softmount to reduce the total installed cost of the machine.

Softmount machines contain springs and shock absorbers to greatly reduce the forces applied to the floor where the machine is mounted, limiting these forces to only about 20% of the forces applied by a hardmount machine. In practice, this means that softmounts can be installed on virtually any floor that can support the weight of the machine and can even be installed on upper floors. Hardmounts must be on ground level, as the vibration created can lead to unwanted noise and even damage to the building. For new construction, significantly less concrete and construction are required, reducing the total installed cost. Softmounts also extract consistently at high extract forces, which leads to reduced costs and time spent in the dryer, extending the life of your expensive linens and saving money on the fuel required to dry the goods.

Choosing the Correct Size

Many people would say bigger is better, and that may be true in certain busy laundries, but generally, it’s best to have a good understanding of the volume of laundry that needs to be processed in a given amount of time. This way, knowing the amount of laundry that needs to be done versus the number of hours the laundry intends to operate per day can give us the pounds per hour of goods that need to be processed. Very conservatively speaking, a washer of a given capacity can process one load per hour (in practice, this can be much higher but does depend on proper management).

If you are replacing a machine, it’s also good to know what size the dryers and ironer on site are, as the washers and dryers will need to be appropriately matched for best performance. The rule of thumb here is that the volume of the dryer’s cylinder needs to be at least twice as large as the volume of the washer’s cylinder, otherwise the goods are too compacted in the dryer and this will degrade drying performance significantly (the goods only dry when they are falling through the heated air-stream). If there is an ironer in the laundry, be wary of high-speed hardmounts, as their inability to extract consistently will impact the operation of the ironer.

Industry Specific Recommendations

Finally, there are some industry specific decisions we can make to help with the selection process:


New Construction: Softmount washer-extractors, due to higher efficiency

Replacement: Typically, hardmount unless the floor is in poor condition. A softmount will be the lowest installed cost since the floor won’t need to be reworked.


New Construction: Softmount Barrier washer-extractors, due to high efficiency and reduced or eliminated cross-contamination risk.

Replacement: Replace with softmounts for higher performance and efficiency.


Softmounts are always recommended for dairies due to the high extract force. Udder cloths are virtually dry after extract and will require a very short time in the dryer.


Softmounts are always recommended for carwashes due to the high extract force.  Rags are slightly moist after extract and can be used immediately without drying.


New Construction:  Softmount washer-extractors, due to higher efficiency

Replacement:  Typically, hardmount unless the floor is in poor condition.  A softmount will be the lowest installed cost since the floor won’t need to be reworked.

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