Team Clean, Inc.Team Clean, Inc.

Maximizing Your Curb Appeal

How many chances do you get to make a first impression?

Yes, it’s a trick question.  Are you, or your company, ready to welcome new residents, employees, and clients?

A first impression promotes your investment, reveals your decisions and shows your pride.  If guests arrive at your office, apartment complex or other facility, and see unkempt grounds or dying plants, they immediately lower their expectations.  These negative assumptions, like judging a book by its cover, can affect occupancy rates, and ultimately sales.

A property manager can assess the curb appeal of a building or campus and essentially work from the ground up to refresh the property.

First step: Contact a lawn maintenance company.

Local and national “landscape management” companies provide the ideal services to help create a positive image on your grounds.  Determine the schedule, services, and fees that accommodate the size of the property.  When you find a company that provides great results, consider contracting them for additional properties.

Second step: Look for a maintenance plan that includes:

Consultations – determine frequency of landscaping service and treatment options.

Pre-emergent herbicides – apply to keep weeds and crabgrass away with this preventative treatment.

Fertilizing – schedule to add nutrients to the soil and flower beds and encourage a greener lawn.

Irrigation – keep your investment from drying out with a timed sprinkler system and keep mulch fresh in flower beds to retain moisture.

Inspections – protect the lawn, shrubs, flowers, and trees from insects and other diseases

Seasonal clean-up – prune and trim trees and shrubs, weed and re-mulch flower beds, rake and remove debris.

Third Step: Maximize your real estate.

Rich green grass and lush trees welcome visitors to your property.  Encourage them to stay with essential add-ons that enhance your landscaping plan.

Apartment complexes and townhome communities may be designed with park-like common areas or tree-lined walkways.  Consider enhancing the property and resident satisfaction by staging social areas, a community garden or quiet retreats. Property managers will see the immediate results of adding extra elements that appeal to realtors and potential new tenants too.

 Outdoor socializing – add benches, tables, and umbrellas for residents to eat outside or visit with friends and family.

Zen garden – create a peaceful sanctuary with a waterfall, koi pond or rock garden.

Small details – hang windchimes or flowering plants or add large decorative pots with herbs or flowers to keep insects away or attract butterflies.

Lighting – install solar-powered lights on walkways for guests to enjoy the landscaping into the evening.

Gardening – Assign a small plot of land for residents to maintain a garden to promote sustainability and reduce the carbon footprint.

Business complexes can also utilize enhanced grounds:

Outdoor offices – this trend continues to rise as teams venture outside (for some fresh air) for a change of scenery and team building opportunities.

Welcoming guests – invite guests to relax on a bench before an appointment or meet with them at an outdoor table in the shade.

Vendors – utilize the outdoor space for hosting special events like “Food Truck Friday,” ping pong, washers or horseshoes tournaments.

Designing specialized outdoor spaces encourages residents or workers to interact.  The campus environment builds a sense of community and promotes longevity.

Lay the groundwork to promote your business, by improving your curb appeal today.

I’M MELTING, MELTING… Dealing with Frozen Pipes

This winter is far from over, but between the Bomb Cyclone and record-setting low temperatures, things have gotten very, very cold.

 

Those subzero temperatures could return at any time. And you can either wish that you’d properly prepared your properties to deal with the freeze last fall, or do something about it now while you have a lull between blizzards. We checked with the American Red Cross about the best ways to deal with one of the most destructive problems in severe weather: frozen pipes.  Here’s what they told us:

 

Water is unique in the way that it expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever’s containing the water, including metal or plastic pipes. It doesn’t matter how strong the container is; expanding water can cause pipes to break.

The most frequent freezing takes place when exposed pipes are in:

Outdoor areas during bitter cold, as with water sprinkler lines, outdoor hose bibs and swimming pool supply lines.

 

Unheated interior areas like crawl spaces, basements, attics, and garages.

 

Uninsulated or under-insulated walls.

 

Keeping Pipes From Freezing

 

In late fall, and before the first snowfall:

 

Drain both the water sprinkler’s and the swimming pool’s water supply lines following manufacturer’s or installer’s directions. Adding antifreeze to these lines can be dangerous, and is not recommended.

Drain, and store all outdoor hoses. Close any inside valves attached to hose bibs, and open up the outside hose bibs for draining. Leave the outside valve open so the pipe won’t break when the water expands.

 

Insulate crawl spaces, basements, and attics.

 

Check for other areas where water lines are in unheated areas. Look under bathroom and kitchen cabinets, and in garages. All of these water pipes in these areas will need insulation.

 

Think about installing specific insulation products, like pipe sleeves or heat cable. Using newspapers as a wrap can provide some degree of protection for exposed pipes in locations that don’t normally endure subzero temperatures.

 

If practical, move exposed pipes indoors for the most protection.

 

Easing the Freezing

 

Open cabinet doors in the bathroom and the kitchen to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Move cleaners and household chemicals out of children’s reach.

 

When the weather is severely cold, open the faucet served by the exposed pipes and let the cold water drip. Running even a trickle of water through a pipe helps prevent pipes from freezing.

 

Set the thermostat and then leave it alone. Use the same temperature setting around the clock. This is worth a slightly higher heating bill because it can prevent a very expensive repair job if pipes freeze and burst.

 

Going away during the winter? Leave the heat on, but don’t set your thermostat for lower than 55° F.

 

Thawing Your Frozen Pipes

 

If your faucet works, but only at a trickle, that could indicate a frozen pipe. You’ll usually find frozen pipes against exterior walls. Other likely places for frozen pipes include the foundation, where the water supply enters your home, and exterior walls.

 

Keep the water running. As the melting begins, some drips of water will start coming through the faucet. Running water will speed up the melting process.

 

Heat up those pipes, but safely. Wrap an electric heating pad around the pipe, or use a portable space heater or a hairdryer. Another effective wrap option would be towels plucked from a tub of boiling water. No open flames, please. That means you, charcoal stove. No blowtorches, heaters that use kerosene or propane, or any other open flame device.

 

Apply heat to the pipes until full water pressure is back to normal. If the ice keeps winning the battle and refuses to melt, call a professional plumber.

 

Make sure all the other faucets are functioning properly. When one pipe freezes, others will, too.

 

 

Founded in 1983, Team Clean, Inc. is a commercial janitorial services company in Philadelphia. Due mainly to the service focus and vision of its founder/president/CEO—Donna L. Allie, PhD.—the company enjoyed huge growth. By 1999, it was the fourth-largest woman-owned business in Philadelphia, and the Wharton Small Business Development Center identified it as one of the fastest-growing small businesses in the Greater Philadelphia area.

HOW TO MAINTAIN A FLU-FREE FACILITY: New Electrostatic Cleaning Tech and a Little Elbow Grease

Flu season used to peak between late November and early March. No longer. Some bugs, like MRSA, became superbugs. Disruptive fluctuations in the weather carry bacteria to new and unexpected places. And flu season continues to creep into every season.

Although MRSA is still predominantly related to exposures in hospital or healthcare settings, infections outside those settings are increasing. Schools, arenas, warehouses, restaurants; wherever you find groups people, you can likely find the virus.

MRSA travels by direct skin-to-skin contact or is spread by contact with dirty objects or surfaces that have come into contact with someone else’s infection. Practicing both good personal hygiene and regularly disinfecting surfaces and shared items are important practices for preventing the spread of MRSA.

Here’s a checklist of what you could do at your facility to help prevent the spread of toxic bacteria:

· Emphasize health protection and worker safety in the workplace

· Make sure that supplies for good hygiene are always available, encouraging workers to practice good hygiene

· Confirm that routine housekeeping tasks in the workplace are being completed

· Be sure that equipment and surfaces suspected of being contaminated are cleaned with detergent-based cleaners or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered disinfectants

· Encourage workers to get early treatment for possible infections

To really put the hurt on those pesky superbugs, Philadelphia’s premier corporate cleaning company Team Clean has armed themselves with the very latest in cleanup technology, a system designed to fight flu, MRSA, and other superbugs by attacking the virus as it cleans your workplace. The Clorox® Total 360® System is a revolutionary new surface treatment system that uses electrostatic technology to provide unbeatable coverage.

“The innovative system applies an electrostatic charge to the Clorox disinfecting or sanitizing solution, delivering a powerful flow of charged particles that are attracted to surfaces with a force stronger than gravity,” explains Kristina Vannoni, Associate Director of Marketing, Clorox Professional Products Company. “It covers up to 18,000 square feet per hour, providing superior surface coverage up to four times faster and using up to 65 percent less product compared with conventional trigger sprayers per square foot.”

Team Clean founder and CEO Donna Allie was impressed enough to switch all of her janitorial teams exclusively to the Clorox® Total 360® system. “Schools and similar institutions make up a large part of our business. The 360 represents a major breakthrough in the fight against illness-causing germs, helping our cleaning professionals prevent and contain outbreaks and keeping facilities healthier during cold and flu season and beyond.”

Over the past four decades, Team Clean’s experience and expertise have successfully serviced companies and organizations requiring: General office cleaning; Government offices and facilities; the Education sector; Events and Sporting venues, including stadiums and convention halls; and services for industrial plants and warehouse facilities.

Social Responsibility: Doing Business For Good

Vendor A and Vendor B have both made their pitches, and now it’s up to you. Both offered very similar products at very similar prices.  But Vendor A has been cited numerous times for illegal dumping of waste and other transgressions, while Vendor B has a clean record and is an active member of a city-wide Zero Waste initiative.

In other words, one vendor is taking its social responsibility seriously, and the other is not. With everything else being equal, which vendor do you choose?

Research has found that shoppers, who have plenty of other options, will abandon a business that isn’t socially responsible.

At the very least, engaging in socially responsible actions helps give companies a good reputation.

Right now, many companies that want to begin CSR initiatives start with one or more of these four broad categories:

  1. Green efforts:  Businesses have a large carbon footprint. Reducing those footprints is a step that’s good for the company and for society as a whole.

 

  1. Philanthropy: Money is always welcome at nonprofits that deal with social causes. But donations in kind are also welcome; your company may have products and services that could benefit charities and community programs. One good place to start would be joining the Giving Tuesday charitable movement, which takes place the day after Cyber Monday to kick off the holidays.

 

  1. Ethical HR: It’s socially responsible to be fair and ethical with all employees.  And it also sets an example for your industry, especially in other nations with labor laws that are different than those in the US.

 

  1. Volunteerism: By doing good deeds without expecting anything in return, companies can demonstrate their commitment, voice their concerns about specific issues and show their support for positive initiatives and organizations.

 

Philadelphia’s Team Clean embraced CSR from the day they opened for business. As a professional janitorial service, Team Clean lost no time in joining the citywide Philly Spring Cleanup, where 21 Team Clean volunteers removed approximately 75 bags of trash and debris.  Team Clean’s CEO Donna Allie also served as the chair of the American Heart Association’s “Go Red For Women” yearlong national campaign against heart disease.  And her “Think Green” initiative promotes green cleaning products instead of the standard commercial cleaners, which can be harmful if touched or inhaled.

Major corporations can have an outsized impact on whatever causes they choose to champion. But you don’t need to be in the Fortune 500 to make a difference.  Even a boutique business or a one-person company will discover that the long-term benefits of corporate social responsibility far outweigh the cost of donating a portion of their profits

Rethink Recycling

The dress is a knockout. A form-fitting scarlet sheath with a train that goes on for miles. The fact that it’s made from cereal boxes, recycled paint and parachute scraps almost seems beside the point.

Titled “Eco-Flamenco,” this dress was created by artist and environmental advocate Nancy Judd, who has been rethinking recycling. “It is in the challenge of transforming materials that are difficult to work with or that are seen as ugly, into something that is pretty, glamorous or interesting that makes me come alive,” she told reporters at an exhibition of her work in Ft. Collins.  And “Eco-Flamenco” carries her message in numerous ways. For example, the red ruffles on its train carry 5,000 eco-pledges written on the scraps before they were sewn onto the dress. (Many of Judd’s fashion pieces are referred to as “sculptures,” depending on whether they can be worn or not).

One of Judd’s more versatile materials is called “plarn”—plastic yarn, made from those flimsy plastic shopping bags that cannot be recycled. Plarn is very much a homegrown solution to the problem posed by these bags; anyone who can crochet, braid or knit can make plarn at home with a pair of scissors. Once you have enough, you’ll be crocheting sturdy, reusable tote bags, purses, doormats, and more in no time. Crafters across the country have embraced plarn as another way to rethink recycling, and the humble plastic yarn that would otherwise have been waste has inspired countless communities, websites and YouTube videos for the curious.

While some are rethinking how plastics can be reused or recycled as formal wear or pocketbooks, others are looking at recycling the stuff that came in those pesky (and unrecyclable) clamshell containers.  Yes, food.

In New York City, residents already had blue and green recycling bins for glass, metal, paper and plastic. Brown bins for organic waste began appearing on sidewalks last summer.  Food waste had been ending up in landfills, which was no longer tenable. Besides hogging the lion’s share of each landfill, organic waste was heavy and expensive to ship. It also released methane, a greenhouse gas, as it decomposed.  New York sanitation officials say that the goal is for every resident of the city to have a way to recycle food scraps, along with other trash organics, like yard and leaf waste. The organic waste will be composted and used as garden fertilizer, livestock feed, and as biogas that can be used as fuel.

These are just some of the positive results that have emerged from people and communities who rethink recycling.  After dinner tonight, take an extra few moments to contemplate your table scraps, and where they’ll be going after they leave your kitchen. Is there something better, more useful and less hazardous your organic waste could be doing?

______________________________________________________________________________________

Founded in 1983, Team Clean, Inc. is a commercial janitorial services company in Philadelphia. Due mainly to the service focus and vision of its founder/president/CEO—Donna L. Allie, PhD.—the company enjoyed huge growth during its first two decades. By 1999, it was the fourth-largest woman-owned business in Philadelphia, and the Wharton Small Business Development Center identified it as one of the fastest-growing small businesses in that metropolitan area.

Flu

SLOWING THE FLU: How the Pros Clean and Disinfect a School

When the summer ends and school returns, so does the flu. But the flu can be slowed and sometimes stopped when school personnel take these active measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Cleaning and disinfecting are part of a broad approach to preventing infectious diseases in schools. To help slow the spread of influenza (flu), the first line of defense is getting vaccinated. Other measures include staying home when sick, covering coughs and sneezes, and washing hands often. Below are tips on how to slow the spread of flu specifically through cleaning and disinfecting.

1. Know the difference between cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing

Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.

Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection.

2. Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are touched often

Follow your school’s standard procedures for routine cleaning and disinfecting. Typically, this means daily sanitizing surfaces and objects that are touched often, such as desks, countertops, doorknobs, computer keyboards, hands-on learning items, faucet handles, phones, and toys. Some schools may also require daily disinfecting these items. Standard procedures often call for disinfecting specific areas of the school, like bathrooms.

Immediately clean surfaces and objects that are visibly soiled. If surfaces or objects are soiled with body fluids or blood, use gloves and other standard precautions to avoid coming into contact with the fluid. Remove the spill, and then clean and disinfect the surface.

3. Simply do routine cleaning and disinfecting

It is important to match your cleaning and disinfecting activities to the types of germs you want to remove or kill. Most studies have shown that the flu virus can live and potentially infect a person for up to 48 hours after being deposited on a surface. However, it is not necessary to close schools to clean or disinfect every surface in the building to slow the spread of flu. Also, if students and staff are dismissed because the school cannot function normally (e.g., high absenteeism during a flu outbreak), it is not necessary to do extra cleaning and disinfecting.

Flu viruses are relatively fragile, so standard cleaning and disinfecting practices are sufficient to remove or kill them. Special cleaning and disinfecting processes, including wiping down walls and ceilings, frequently using room air deodorizers, and fumigating, are not necessary or recommended. These processes can irritate eyes, noses, throats, and skin; aggravate asthma; and cause other serious side effects.

4. Clean and disinfect correctly

Always follow label directions on cleaning products and disinfectants. Wash surfaces with a general household cleaner to remove germs. Rinse with water, and follow with an EPA-registered disinfectant to kill germs. Read the label to make sure it states that EPA has approved the product for effectiveness against influenza A virus.

If a surface is not visibly dirty, you can clean it with an EPA-registered product that both cleans (removes germs) and disinfects (kills germs) instead. Be sure to read the label directions carefully, as there may be a separate procedure for using the product as a cleaner or as a disinfectant. Disinfection usually requires the product to remain on the surface for a certain period of time (e.g., letting it stand for 3 to 5 minutes).

Use disinfecting wipes on electronic items that are touched often, such as phones and computers. Pay close attention to the directions for using disinfecting wipes. It may be necessary to use more than one wipe to keep the surface wet for the stated length of contact time. Make sure that the electronics can withstand the use of liquids for cleaning and disinfecting.

5. Use products safely

Pay close attention to hazard warnings and directions on product labels. Cleaning products and disinfectants often call for the use of gloves or eye protection. For example, gloves should always be worn to protect your hands when working with bleach solutions.

Do not mix cleaners and disinfectants unless the labels indicate it is safe to do so. Combining certain products (such as chlorine bleach and ammonia cleaners) can result in serious injury or death.

Ensure that custodial staff, teachers, and others who use cleaners and disinfectants read and understand all instruction labels and understand safe and appropriate use. This might require that instructional materials and training be provided in other languages.

6. Handle waste properly

Follow your school’s standard procedures for handling waste, which may include wearing gloves. Place no-touch wastebaskets where they are easy to use. Throw disposable items used to clean surfaces and items in the trash immediately after use. Avoid touching used tissues and other waste when emptying wastebaskets. Wash your hands with soap and water after emptying wastebaskets and touching used tissues and similar waste.

If the constant cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing put too much of a burden on the school’s staff to do the job properly, a professional janitorial service with in-school antibacterial and flu experience like Team Clean may well be safest way to go.

Team Clean, whose clients include primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, employs effective cleaning techniques to combat mersa (antibiotic-resistant bacteria) and stringent employment screening and hiring procedures, with the goal of producing an environmentally safe and clean facility, free from harmful bacteria.

Naturally, school bathrooms present their own challenges. Team Clean’s Spotless Restrooms program has been particularly effective in residence halls, which require detail cleaning in restrooms to eradicate harmful microorganisms that can cause serious illnesses. This program utilizes specialized equipment and Green chemicals to provide effective sanitation in these rooms.

Need more info? Take a look at these other CDC pages:

Recycling

Is Recycling Worth the Hassle?

The familiar recycling symbol can be seen on garbage bags, dump trucks and trash cans all over the world. The phrase “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is taught to school children. We all know that recycling is a simple way in which every person can contribute to making a better world. But surely there must be more benefits of recycling than just reducing the amount of trash we throw out. After all, it takes time and effort to collect, separate and send away that trash. But the fact is, there are many ways in which recycling makes for a better and happier world.

Recycling helps us…

Reduce the Size of Landfills: One of the biggest reasons why recycling has been promoted is that it does reduce the strain on our environment. By utilizing waste products in a constructive way, we can slowly decrease the size of our landfills. As the population grows, it will become difficult for the landfills to hold so much trash. When this happens, our cities and landscapes will face pollution, poisoning and health problems. Recycling helps to keep the pollution in check, and decreases it, little by little, over time.

Conserve Natural Resources: Scrap cars, old bottles, junk mail and used rubber tires are becoming common features of our landfills. All of these may seem endless, but the resources required to make them are vanishing quickly. Recycling allows all of these junk items to be used over and over again so that new resources do not have to be exploited. Recycling conserves natural resources such as water, minerals, coal, oil, gas and timber. Another benefit of recycling is that it allows more emphasis to be put on creating technology to utilize what already exists. This is why a number of industries support programs where they can receive large quantities of recyclable material to convert into new items.

Offer More Employment Opportunities: Recycling is a huge industry within itself. After you deposit your trash for recycling, it has to be sorted and shipped off to the right places. Thousands of workers are involved. Certainly, one of the major benefits of recycling is that it creates more jobs in the community and provides stability to the entire process. Throwing the trash away creates some six to seven jobs at best, where recycling can help create close to thirty jobs.

Offer Cash Benefits: Recycling is not all about being charitable and doing what is good for the environment. If it were so, everybody would recycle out of the goodness of their hearts. Most governments have policies in place that give financial benefits to those who recycle. People that take aluminum cans or glass bottles to the recycling plant get a cash benefit in return. In fact, many teenagers can pick up recycling as a way to make extra money on the side. Old newspapers, appliances, plastic, rubber, steel, copper and even beer cans can be sold for money.

Save Money:  A strong economy is efficient. What drags it down is having to pay for resources that are growing scarce in the country. Every bit of recycling counts when the economy does not have to pay for planting more forests, mining iron ore or purchasing fossil fuels from other countries. When the jobs increase, the economy gets a boost. As the cost of maintaining the current waste disposal system goes down, all the money saved can be diverted to where it is needed the most.

Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions: When you recycle products, you tend to save energy responsible for increases in global warming. Recycling helps to reduce air and water pollution by cutting down the number of pollutants that are released into the environment. A recycling rate of 30% can is almost equivalent of removing 30 million cars from the roads.

Save Energy: When you recycle aluminum cans, you can save 95% of the energy required to produce those cans from raw materials, energy saved from recycling one glass bottle is enough to light a light bulb for four hours. This clearly shows how much energy can be saved if recycling is taken on a larger scale. The reduced reliance on foreign oil also helps with long-term savings.

Stimulate the Use of Greener Technologies: The use of more recycling products has pushed people towards greener technologies. Use of renewable energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal is on rise,  which has helped to conserve energy and reduce pollution.

Bring Different Groups and Communities Together: At the end of the day, recycling is an act that can bring a community together, whether by picking up trash from the roads as a team, or collecting waste materials to raise money for schools and colleges. Many simple programs that make a community stronger can be built upon the many benefits of recycling. In fact, it is one the best ways to teach children about responsibility and taking an initiative.

Prevent Loss of Biodiversity: Less raw material is needed when you recycle products. The beauty of recycling is that it will help you to conserve resources and prevents loss of biodiversity, ecosystems and rainforests. Dangerous mining activities will be reduced. Soil erosion and water pollution will be reduced, which in turn will help native plants and animals survive in forests. The amount of deforestation will be significantly reduced if the pace of recycling increases.

The benefits of recycling are easily understood, and the effects of recycling are all positive. Team Clean supports all forms of sustainability. All Team Clean employees receive mandatory training in proper Green chemical usage, both to minimize waste and to maximize efficiency—two important benefits of cleaning Green. By using Green-building best practices, Team Clean helps building owners solve problems, improve building performance over time, and insure a safe and healthy workplace for occupants and visitors.

Adapted from Conserve Energy Future.

Removing Graffiti

BAG THE TAGS: Why Removing Graffiti is So Hard

Removing graffiti is still one of the toughest building maintenance chores to deal with.  Soap and water usually won’t do it. But a lot of harsh chemicals and sharp scrapers might. However you choose to deal with graffiti, the cleaning-off process is a long, messy one if you choose to do it yourself. And your results are not guaranteed.

To save time, money and the agony of defeat, a professional cleaning firm like Team Clean, which has successfully dealt with graffiti for decades, is probably the best way to go.

But if you’re determined to do it yourself, here’s what you’ll need in your graffiti fighter’s tool kit:

1.          Aerosol solvent
2.         Clean cotton painters’ rags
3.         Trash bags
4.         Inexpensive paintbrushes, rollers and paint containers
5.         Paint matching various surfaces around your neighborhood
6.         Paint scraper
7.         Dust mask
8.         Safety glasses
9.         Kitchen cleaner and water in spray bottle

Solvents and Cleaners
There are a number of graffiti removal products on the market. It can help to become familiar with each one. Learn about safe use and safe handling. Some of the better-known solvents available at major hardware stores can be hazardous to your health. Using a respirator is probably safer than using a dust mask. Breathing this stuff is obnoxious and NOT healthy.

You need to be aware of wind conditions. You need eye and breathing protection when you use it. Rags used with solvent should be discarded properly. DO NOT KEEP FLAMMABLE RAGS IN CONTAINERS in your vehicle or garage.

Know the product you are using and HOW TO HANDLE AN ACCIDENTAL INJURY when using the product.

Some of the markers the vandals are using are not permanent. We’ve been able to clean some signs with soap and water.

Safety Glasses 
Safety glasses keep paints, solvents, and dust from entering the eyes. Always use caution. Never compromise eye safety.

Cleaning Smooth Surfaces
Test an inconspicuous area of the surface with your cleaning material. Most modern signs clean quickly. Start by cleaning with soap and water first then proceed to solvents.

Cleaning from Rough Surfaces 
Many times paint on a rough surface causes permanent damage. The character of the surface will change because, in some cases, it is virtually impossible to remove all of the paint from a porous surface. A perfect example is a cinder block wall. You may be forced to paint the wall—the entire wall. Simply framing the damaged area leaves you (and the vandal) with an ugly blotch.

We have found that pressure washers, using sand, can actually etch a cinder block wall, further hastening the wall’s demise. A wire brush is somewhat limited in effectiveness as well. Our city, instead, uses a power washer with a biodegradable emulsifier approved by our sewer department. In most cases, we have been able to completely remove the vandalism. However in some cases, because of the porous surfaces involved, a slight hazy remnant of the graffiti still remains.

Elbow Grease and the Wire Brush
An inexpensive wire brush is excellent for removing paint from many surfaces. The surface will look like someone has wire brushed it but the vandal’s message will be history. Any surface where you use a wire brush should be a surface, that will over time, weather back to the original color or texture. Every graffiti fighter needs a wire brush in his or her tool kit.

Use the wire brush on: 
Telephone poles
Street curbs
Some rough metals
Smooth stone surfaces
Decorative rocks
Wood fences
Concrete

TIPS ON REMOVAL
1. When you engage in graffiti removal, you become very aware of how much more difficult it is to remove it than it is to apply it. This is especially true in the case of rough, unpainted brick surfaces. Painted surfaces are probably best repainted, though it would be wise to have a supply of graffiti removal solvent ready for rapid response. This is also true because recent graffiti seems to be easier to remove than old graffiti.

2. For surfaces like mailboxes, utility boxes, steel roll-up doors, lampposts, etc., liquid graffiti removal solvent (Savogram) is the way to go. This graffiti should be removed as soon as it appears. This requires only some light duty steel wool, a small spray bottle of solvent, and a cleaner like TSP to wash the area down after removing the graffiti. Very little solvent should be used if the graffiti is recent. Just spray on some solvent, lightly rub with steel wool (or even heavy duty paper towels) and then wipe clean. You’ll want to use rubber gloves and lightly wash the affected area after removing the graffiti. Spray solvent such as Jasco, is not recommended for mailboxes or other painted surfaces since it will cause so much paint to bubble up that the “cleaned” area may look worse than it did with the graffiti.

3. For a brick surface, especially red brick, we recommend a professional cleanup, using a biodegradable emulsifier. This method minimizes the toll on the surface. It is generally too difficult to tackle a very rough surface with wire brushes and solvents, and the finished job will still bear a fair amount of the evidence of the graffiti.

4. For routinely painted surfaces like fences and some wall, it would be wise to have plenty of matching paint available for immediate cover-up within a day or two of the appearance of graffiti. In a business district, we recommend that some standard colors be employed in locations that are graffiti-prone and that an understanding be developed among property owners and business managers to allow for painting over graffiti quickly without having to secure permission from all affected parties. Rapid response is the key and this is only possible if the job is made as easy and automatic as possible.

Graffiti removal is not always a simple “spray it on, wipe it off” affair, especially when it involves brick or other rough surfaces or when paint has been there for a long time. You should expect to encounter examples where the best you can do is reduce the graffiti to an unrecognizable fade, even if it is not possible to completely remove it. Try both solvents if one doesn’t seem to do the trick. Don’t give up too soon. Sometimes, several applications of solvent or allowing to sit for a longer time will take care of things.

Commercial Cleaning

Commercial Cleaning: Cost or Investment?

Maintaining a clean workplace environment can pay for itself many times over, and often in unexpected ways. According to CleanLink, some of the most significant benefits kick in immediately:

  • There’s a direct correlation between a clean work environment and improved employee health. A clean environment can help reduce worker sick days.
  • A regular cleaning program preserves and protects building assets such as carpets, floors, tile surfaces, equipment. It prevents excessive wear and extends lifespans.
  • A sparkling workplace can be an excellent marketing tool, whether you’re trying to impress prospective clients, lease space or sell the building.
  • A clean, healthy building plays extremely well with occupants, creating a welcoming atmosphere, often subconsciously encouraging hard work and collective effort.
  • The appearance is one of the major elements that separates one building from another and brings added value.

Some experts say that the cleaning industry should be included under the umbrella of the healthcare industry, since cleaning plays such a vital role in keeping people healthy and productive. Aiding attendance, productivity and customer satisfaction can build a financial argument that will convince even the accountants.

Appearance will always be a major reason for commercial cleaning, but headlines about flu, MRSA, C. diff and other germs will mean higher cleaning standards and an increasingly important role for commercial cleaning companies like Philadelphia’s Team Clean.  As Donna L. Allie, Team Clean’s CEO, points out, “A well-maintained facility has the added effect of boosting employee morale, as well as contributing to an accident-free work environment. It also minimizes absenteeism caused by illnesses that can be prevented by the effective control and elimination of bacteria and germs.”

Stephen Collins of Stephco Cleaning & Restoration notes, “When we start to connect the dots between proper cleaning, employee attendance and performance, customer satisfaction and spending, then the value of commercial cleaning will be better understood and it will be harder to cut cleaning budgets — or to always choose the lowest bidder.”

Avoiding Classroom Germs, From Sniffles to Flu

The first and most effective defense against the flu is cleanliness.  John Rosales of the NEA outlines the five basic steps of flu-fighting in our schools:

From the first fall sniffles to the advance of flu season, educators and students can’t completely avoid being exposed to colds and viruses, but they can take actions to reduce the chances of getting sick.

We asked four experienced, award-winning custodians—those professionals on the frontlines of keeping schools clean—for their advice on minimizing the spread of germs in the classroom. Here are their top five tips:

1.         Wipe It Down

Fortunately, custodians provide a thorough cleaning of classrooms before and/or after school, but teachers and paras can help contain the spread of germs in between classes by “cleaning desktops, counters, sinks, soap and paper towel dispensers especially during a flu outbreak,” says Pat Nicholson, winner of the 2009 C.L.E.A.N. Award (Custodial Leaders for Environmental Advocacy Nationwide). “Wiping door handles and frames, walls and counters that are touched by hundreds of hands every day with an effective sanitizer and a micro fiber towel will limit the spread of viruses.”

2.         Stock Supplies and Cover Up

“Teachers and paras should keep tissues, hand sanitizer, and sanitizer wipes in classrooms for when kids sneeze or cough,” says Briana Rivera, from Saks Elementary School in Anniston, Alabama, and a runner-up in this year’s C.L.E.A.N.  Award competition. “As a preventive measure, they should talk to the kids about covering their mouths and washing their hands to contain the spread of germs.”

Steve Brooks of the Maryland State Teachers Association has spent 15 years in school maintenance. He says that classrooms with sinks should have the proper hand sanitizers to take advantage of a quick way to kill germs before they spread.

“When students cough, immediately ask them to go to the sink and wash,” says Brooks, president of the Calvert Association of Educational Support Staff. “Keep disinfector wipes in stock and continuously wipe off.”

3.         Monitor Students and Send Them Home When Appropriate

When necessary, teachers should send sick kids home.

“Paras can help keep an eye on the kids who are coughing,” says Brooks, a graduate of the ESP Leaders for Tomorrow program. “Because kids cough and keep going.”

Nicholson confirms that staff should be on the lookout for students as well as teachers with flu symptoms. “Staff with the flu should stay home as well,” he says.

4.         Minimize Objects That Attract Germs

Teachers and paraeducators should also “always work to minimize the number of objects in a classroom that are handled by students and can carry germs,” says Arnold.

Nicholson says sofas, beanbag chairs, recliners, and rugs are “asthma trigger reservoirs,” providing a home for dust, dust mites, pet dander, and pathogens which can trigger asthma attacks. Nearly one in 10 students has asthma.

“These students will benefit from the removal of these items,” Nicholson says. “This type of furniture also obstructs cleaning in your classroom.”

And while you’re at it, cut down on clutter.

“Uncluttered horizontal surfaces can be cleaned quickly and easily,” says Nicholson. “Desks and countertops collect dust and particulates. It takes custodians longer to clean surfaces covered with clutter.”

5.         Work as a Team

“Dealing with germs is a team effort,” says Brooks, who works at Patuxent High School in Lusby. “We might not get 100 percent of them, but you need to have the teacher and para supporting what custodians do in the morning and after school.”

Other vital members in this team effort include students.

“We teach kids everything else, so we can teach them how to keep from spreading germs,” Brooks adds.

This article has been edited. The original appeared here.

 

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