Team Clean, Inc.Team Clean, Inc.
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.

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.

 

Clean Schools

Clean Schools = Better Students = Higher Grades

Where do you prefer to shop?  In a spotless, fresh-smelling boutique, or in a grimy store with sticky floors and a mysterious stench permeating everything? Where do you prefer to lunch?  In a sparkling-clean cafe with that wonderful fresh-baked aroma, or in a fly-infested diner that might not have been cleaned since Diana Ross was a Supreme.   Ask anyone where they’d rather live, work and study, and clean/fresh beats dirty/grimy every time. This is especially evident in schools and other educational settings, where productivity is essential.

According to several studies, there’s a strong correlation between the cleanliness of school facilities and the achievements of students and teachers.

PROMOTING HEALTH HELPS

In one Australian study, respondents said an approach that promotes health and cleanliness significantly impacts productivity of students and teachers. Cleaner school environments generally have a more positive influence on an educator’s job stress.

Such work environments foster employee commitment. The more teachers are happy with their work environment, the better they teach, and the more students will learn.

CLEANLINESS AFFECTS LEARNING

In another study, this time in the United States, more than 80% of students polled said a lack of cleanliness is a big distraction in schools. The study is based on the five levels of cleanliness outlined in APPA’s (Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers) Custodial Staffing Guidelines for Educational Facilities.

The results said a lack of cleanliness becomes a distraction for student at APPA Level 3 (or casual inattention) and Level 4 (moderate dinginess). Most of the students said they desire APPA Level 1 cleanliness (or orderly spotlessness), or at least a Level 2 (ordinary tidiness).

How important is cleanliness to the way the immediate environment is perceived? Cleanliness was named the fourth most important building element that affects the personal learning of students. Noise, air temperature, and lighting were named top three. Students reported a dirty learning environment aggravates allergies, spreads germs, worsens distracting bug and rodent infestations, and promotes higher stress levels in individuals.

These studies show that cleanliness is important not just in schools, but in other establishments as well. Healthy building occupants are productive, and for students, this often translates to better grades and performance.

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. For further information about Team Clean, please visit http://www.team-clean.com

 

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