While the terms “commercial” and “industrial” are often used interchangeably, they can be misleading when selecting your on-premise laundry equipment. Despite the numerous similarities between commercial and industrial laundry equipment, there are many distinctions. From physical differences in machine sizes and capacities to variations in features, including technology and ease-of-use, check out this comparison of commercial vs. industrial laundry equipment to discover the best solution for your nursing home, fitness club, hair salon, or other on-premise laundry facility. 

What Is Industrial & Commercial Laundry Equipment?

Industrial laundry equipment is designed to handle a bulk volume of linens quickly, and typically requires a dedicated operating staff. While industrial equipment has programmable features for easy operation, it is specialized equipment that lacks traditional customer-facing operating features. Industrial laundry facilities generally require multiple pieces of equipment, including batch washers with custom operations, extractors, conveyors or shuttles, and in-line drying systems, to properly accommodate the business’s laundry needs. This type of equipment is most commonly used by commercial laundry services that launder linens for other businesses, or on-premise laundries at facilities that serve large volumes of customers, such as hotels, hospitals, and nursing homes. 

Commercial laundry equipment looks similar to residential laundry equipment, but is designed to handle larger loads and features more high-tech operating and cleaning features. With customized programmability and one-touch operation, commercial laundry machines are designed to be user-friendly, so anyone in the business can operate them—no dedicated staff necessary. Commercial laundry equipment might include individual washer(s) and dryer(s) or a stacked high-capacity washer and dryer unit, but does not require other specialized industrial equipment such as conveyors, tunnel washers, or pass-though dryers. Commercial machines are typically used by businesses that produce smaller volumes of laundry, such as gyms and health clubs, veterinarian offices, nail salons, and spas. 

Frequency of Use

Any commercial and industrial laundry equipment from a reputable manufacturer is designed with durability in mind. When following the recommended usage and maintenance guidelines, we have seen both commercial and industrial laundry equipment last decades, with some machines operating exceptionally well at over 50 years old. With that in mind, selecting the correct equipment for your business’s typical usage patterns and pairing it with proper upkeep will impact its useful lifespan. 

Industrial Laundry Equipment is designed for near-constant operation, processing dozens of loads every day. It is made almost entirely of metal or cast iron parts, stainless steel baskets, and heavy-duty drive shafts that can stand up to this type of activity.

Commercial Laundry Equipment is built for frequent operation—with key components made of stainless steel for added durability—but it’s not designed for an industrial-magnitude number of loads each day.

Summary: While both industrial and commercial laundry equipment are remarkably durable, consider how your operation will use it in order to select the best washers and dryers for your needs. All laundry equipment from Western State Design is manufactured and tested to withstand traditional on-premise laundry demands, and with our expert routine maintenance,  lifetime technical support, and top-of-the-line warranties, we can help ensure you get the right equipment that will show up to work every day for many years to come. 

Industry Demands 

Your industry will dictate whether you should consider commercial or industrial laundry equipment. Understanding linen types and sizes, the laundering schedule, staff availability, and the desired turnaround times for your business are good first steps in deciding between industrial or commercial laundry equipment.

Industrial Laundry Equipment is designed for massive loads of soiled linens: Large hotels and resorts, hospitals, nursing homes, and correctional facilities are prime candidates for industrial laundry operations with a dedicated staff. Not only will industrial equipment handle large volumes and bulky linens, but it is designed with sanitation features, like divided cylinders and Milnor Staph Guard, to prevent cross contamination. 

Commercial Laundry Equipment is a practical, efficient choice for a smaller operation, like a spa, health club, or veterinarian’s office. The efficient, fast turnaround of Milnor's Commercial Washer-Extractors makes it possible for service industries with intermittent laundry needs to process loads of towels, uniforms, and other laundry during regular business hours. Many of these machines are easily programmable, so you can create custom cycles for your most frequently used loads to ensure any employee can select the correct settings at the press of a button.

Summary: Industrial and commercial equipment offer specialized features to benefit the industries they are designed to serve. You’ll find sanitation features, specialized programming, and automated processes to benefit nearly any industry. Browse the business sectors we serve to find real-world examples of industrial and commercial laundry solutions. 

Load Capacities

Capacity is an important differentiator between commercial and industrial washers and dryers. Production ranges vary depending on machine types, how they are designed, and from brand to brand. Every washer or dryer has a maximum volume that it can effectively process at once, and adhering to these limits ensures your linens are properly cleaned and  sanitized. While the differences between industrial and commercial capacities are significant, these variations are all intentional as different businesses have unique needs. 
Industrial Laundry Equipment from Milnor can process extreme volumes—up to 725 pounds of dry weight—in each wash load. Industrial pass-through and tilting dryers are designed to perform alongside high capacity extractors and batch washers for a smooth workflow. These industrial laundry machines have features to facilitate loading and unloading, including hydraulic tilt technology, automatic doors, and add-on shuttles and conveyors for improved operations.
Commercial Laundry Equipment generally has a lower individual load capacity than industrial machines, but will process at least three times that of residential equipment. Dexter’s O-Series commercial washers are available in model capacities of 20 to 90 pounds per load, with dryers processing 30 to 170 pounds. These volumes seem moderate compared to industrial equipment, but are ideal for operational efficiency with limited personnel and processing space. Having a variety of capacity ranges on this smaller scale allows businesses to tailor their commercial laundry equipment to their capacity needs. 
Summary: When deciding between a commercial or industrial laundry machine, it’s important to match your load capacity with your actual load size, as overloading equipment can result in inefficient cleaning and laundry room backlogs. Western State Design offers a large range of laundry equipment to meet almost any capacity to streamline your processes and increase productivity.

Installation Requirements and Restrictions

The physical footprint necessary for installing industrial and commercial equipment varies greatly. To meet your objectives, you’ll need to have adequate space to accommodate the appropriate industrial or commercial equipment, while factoring in your workflow and safety considerations. Other factors including utilities, weight limits, and water usage and drainage restrictions will require a professional contractor’s input and assistance for proper installation.

Industrial Laundry Equipment needs its own dedicated space—not just for washers and dryers, but also for any linen staging and finishing equipment. Because the loads are heavy and difficult to handle, making sure there is enough linear space available for you to benefit from in-line processing features, like gravity unloading and pass-through designs, is key to a productive environment. Staff requirements for a large industrial laundry facility also need to be factored into your building (breakrooms, restrooms, and offices) as well as your space requirements for foot traffic, carts, and general work areas.

Commercial Laundry Equipment is much smaller than industrial—most commercial washers and dryers are similar in size to residential laundry equipment. Many businesses can even opt for a commercial stack washer-dryer that will meet their small-scale laundry needs while further saving space. Because of its smaller size, commercial laundry equipment is also easier to incorporate into your facility, especially since most models fit through standard doorways. 

Summary: You’ll need to factor in weight constraints, machine spacing from side-to-side and behind, door opening direction, and any maintenance space required to determine your final layout for a commercial or industrial laundry space. Consult with a Western State Design expert for custom industrial equipment recommendations and floor plan ideas to get the best production out of your commercial or industrial operation. 

Technology & Machine Controls

One area where commercial and industrial laundry equipment are similar is technology. Both styles rely on computerized features to improve the ease-of-use, workflow, and efficiency for your business. Common features include moisture-sensing capabilities, operator alerts, and fire response systems, but one area where industrial and commercial laundry equipment differ is in the intricacy of cycle programming. 

Industrial Laundry Equipment features more robust options for programmable controls, including chemical injections, water usage, and cycle temperatures, with some offering up to 200 preset cycles. The user interface for Milnor machines allows operators to troubleshoot faults and provides more data than a typical commercial interface. Because industrial laundry equipment is often part of a connected workflow, most machines offer the ability to link controls across a large system, adding to an operator’s responsibilities. 

Commercial Laundry Equipment controls are ideal for businesses with specialty cycle requirements while facilitating simple user operation. Commercial equipment is known for its easy-to-use LED screens and simple button controls. These simplified operations are ideal for novice laundry workers or intermittent staff, but also allow management to limit load modifications.

Summary: The technology of industrial and commercial laundry equipment allows businesses to create repeatable processes with whatever level of management oversight they desire. With any programming you choose, you’ll find the computer-operated controls and multilingual interfaces accommodate a diverse workforce, reduce human error, and optimize your efficiency across your industrial or commercial laundry facility. 


The higher the machine capacity and the more advanced the technology, the higher the price point. This is true across the board, for all commercial and industrial washers and dryers. Due to its durability and oversized capacity, industrial laundry equipment is typically more expensive than commercial systems, but selecting purely by price will not suffice when choosing a long-term laundry solution. If your business needs exceed the machine you select, you’ll often end up losing money through inefficient processes and a backlogged workload. Trust Western State Design for the expertise to determine the right equipment for your specific needs. 
Browse Western State Design for laundry equipment to start planning a commercial or industrial operation today. Improving your processes will not only meet—and exceed—the expectations of your customers with cleaner linens, faster turnarounds, and greener practices, but your machines will meet your capacity needs effectively and error-free.