YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK - When you stay in most hotels, sheets, and laundry are stripped for your room each morning and sent to the laundry.
In Yellowstone National Park the same is true - only there is only one laundry for the entire park and it is actually in Gardiner, Montana. We recently visited the facility to come clean on the major operation.
Here's some numbers: 4.1 million pounds of laundry this year, a new record by more than a million pounds. As for the seamstresses - they're responsible for nearly 100,000 pieces of clothing and they hem between 3,000 and 4,000 pairs of pants alone each year.
“It's a seven-day process,” said LaRue Weiland, Laundry Operation Manager. “We ship out two semis and two small trucks seven days a week.”
Nothing is stored -- it’s washed, dried, folded and returned every day.
“We take care of every hotel that has a restaurant in it, we have napkins, we have tablecloths,” explained Weiland. “We have three sheets per bed, we have four pillows per bed so it's a lot of pillowcases and a lot of napkins.”
The number is actually four-million pounds cleaned here last year. Fortunately, Yellowstone has the equipment to handle the loads.
“We load the machine with 110-pound packets,” said Rodney Sisiam, Chief Laundry Engineer. “Each one of those packets is being processed every two minutes it moves forward, so a total of 13 packets including the press where we extract the water and then it goes down through the driers, it's all automated.”
“Our old conventional machines like our washer/extractors and stuff were two to three gallons of water per pound,” said Sisiam. “This machine is able to process on a third to a half gallon per pound."
As for park employee uniforms, each is sized, maintained and stored during the off-season. It's a big job for some 60 people during the summer season.
“A lot of people think, ‘oh you just do laundry,’” said Weiland. “No, I just don't do laundry, I do laundry for Yellowstone National Park.”
During the shoulder season, often folks from other departments get a chance to fold and sort, to make sure every bed, table, and pillow in the park sports a fresh uniform - just like the employees every day.