Team Clean, Inc.Team Clean, Inc.

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.

Lower Bills with Efficient Cleaning Equipment

Of course, you have to clean your home. But the amount of resources you use for house cleaning can balloon if you’re not careful.  Team Clean, the Philadelphia-based janitorial service, points out that your automatic dishwasher likely uses between three and fifteen gallons per load of dishes. Your washing machine takes 16-40 gallons for every load of dirty clothes. To use them in an environmentally friendly manner to reduce the amount of water, energy and other resources being used requires efficiency, which in turn requires a plan.

The Plan

Step One would be listing your cleaning chores that use resources, including water and energy used by appliances and water used for mopping floors. Where are time, energy, water or other resources being wasted? And can you reduce the waste with more efficient cleaning?

The Prep

The goal here is to not intentionally waste your time or resources. So before any cleaning task is undertaken, set yourself up in a cleared area, without the clutter that can slow things down, and with the tools you’ll need at hand (that includes buckets, cleaning products, squeegees, rags and so on).

The Fine Print

With cleaning products, the label is your best friend. It has the instructions on how much to use for the best results.  Following them will help prevent wasting the product or getting less than the cleaning power you need.

Step By Step

To take your cleaning seriously, plan your cleaning progress methodically. If you’re wet-mopping a floor, plan your route so you don’t cross your own path and mop over where you just mopped, wasting water. You’ll use less cleaning materials if you clean methodically instead of impulsively.

Cleaning Ideas That Save Resources

Kitchen: Fun Fact: Dishwashers use less water and energy than you do when you hand-wash a load of tableware. So the green thing to do here is to run a dishwasher only when it’s full. If your washer has an air-dry feature, use it and save the energy needed to heat your dishes dry. And please, just scrape the plates and put them in the washer. Pre-washing your dirty dishes only wastes time and a great deal of water.

Laundry: Take a little longer to stare at your washing machine to figure out what green options came with it. Make sure you’re selecting the right load size—running a full “Heavy Load” cycle for three socks and a pillowcase wastes detergent, water, time and electricity. Some clothes, like jeans and good shirts, can benefit from cold-water washing, which also saves energy. Use only the manufacturer’s suggested amount of laundry detergent; more won’t get your clothes cleaner.  Once your things are out of the washer, hang-dry them if you can.

Floors:  The more often you sweep up, the less mopping you’ll have to do. And when you do finally mop, the already-cleaner floor won’t require excessive amounts of detergent or water.

For countertops: Brush crumbs and other table debris off your kitchen surfaces before you spray or wipe them. You won’t need as many towels or rags to get the surfaces clean. So you won’t have to do as much laundry, and you won’t need to buy more paper towels as frequently.

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.

Cleaning Ice Melt

It’s another brutal winter, one where unusually large snowfalls are blanketing the country. And that means hardwood floors will not only get wet (which they shouldn’t), but the rain and snow that’s tracked in on them will likely be mixed with salt or ice melt, leaving streaks and puddles on your floors.  Here’s how to keep them clean and protected during this snowy, rainy, icy winter:

Be Prepared.

Keep an abundance of rags, old towels, and other clean wiper-uppers near your doors to use immediately. The faster you clean the floor up, the cleaner you’ll get it—don’t give the moisture and chemicals time to soak into the wood.  Keep a broom or vacuum handy to sweep away granules of salt or ice melt that could scratch your floors’ surfaces. And, if you can, lay down mats on every walking surface to keep the moisture from touching your floors at all, as well as a large, absorbent mat by the front door for shoes.

 

One More Tip: Consider spreading kitty litter on your sidewalks and steps instead of salt or ice melt. While it won’t melt snow or ice, it will vastly improve your visitors’ traction while being safer for your floors.

 

Know Your Chemicals

Most ice melt products use essentially the same calcium chloride (i.e. salt)-based recipe, with variations and blends that can also include potassium chloride, sodium chloride, magnesium chloride and urea. The makeup of most ice melt products is based on calcium chloride because (a) it melts snow and ice effectively and (b) it’s cheap.

One More Tip: The downside with salt is its high pH levels, pretty much the same levels you’ll find in, say, floor strippers. These pH levels break down your floor’s finish, leaving the wood underneath defenseless. Immediate cleaning action is recommended.

Wiping Out the White

Once the salt starts breaking down your hardwood floor’s finish and the moisture dries, you’ll note how it leaves a white residue or film on the floor. That’s the alkaline salt residue, which should be neutralized.  Dampen a soft cloth with warm water and gently wipe in a circular motion. After the floor has dried, if there’s still a white residue, dilute one cup of white vinegar in one gallon of warm water, and wipe the area, again with a circular motion. Buff-dry the spot immediately.

One More Tip: There’s most likely a commercial floor cleaner made specifically for your home’s floors. Determine what that cleaner is and add it to your anti-snow arsenal before the next blizzard hits.

 

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.

Is Your House Making You Sick?

Cold and flu season is hitting hard this winter, and your challenge is twofold: First, making sure that cleaning your house isn’t making you sick.  Second, if you’re feeling ill, figuring out if your symptoms originated from the flu or from your house.

 

After all, many of the symptoms of the flu—coughing, sneezing, fatigue, congestion, runny nose, sometimes a fever—can also be the result of allergies from dust being kicked up or commercial cleaners being used improperly.

 

But yes, your indoor environment and its microscopic inhabitants could be making you sick. Here’s where they’re hiding:

 

1. Heating and Cooling Systems

 

Problem: When your HVAC system cools your home, it also leaves traces of water in the ducts, creating the perfect breeding ground for mold and bacteria. That microbial growth can trigger respiratory issues like headaches and coughing.

Solution: Stay on top of your monthly air filter replacements. Hire professional cleaners to clean out your air ducts every couple of years, and ask for their suggestions for your heater’s cleanest and most efficient operation.

 

2. Indoor Leaks

Problem: You can’t see the leaks in your HVAC system that are causing mold growth in your home, and that’s bad news for anyone in your household susceptible to asthma and allergy-based breathing problems.

Solution: Moisture is your enemy. Think dry, dry, dry. Dry closets, dry pipes, dry basements, dry attics. Clean and dry where any moisture, even a little drop, has accumulated. Remember, you’re only seeing, and cleaning, surfaces; what’s not visible can make things even worse. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask a professional. A good plumber or roofer has been through this situation many times.

 

3. Furniture

Problem: The comfy upholstered chair you’ve had for decades. That big pillow your sister gave you when you bought what became your kid’s go-to TV couch. The only mattress you know you can sleep on. These are a few of your favorite things. Especially if you’re a dust mite. Microscopic dust mites see us humans as large, soft bags that provide them with warmth and humidity. Dust mites live everywhere people live. Most people can safely ignore them, but each dust mite is a little time bomb for someone with asthma or allergies, triggering strong, debilitating reactions.

 

Solution: Cycle your linens every week. Sheets and towels should be washed in the hottest possible water, and thoroughly dried. Give furniture, throw pillows, carpeting and curtains a weekly vacuuming and dusting. If your household includes someone who’s sensitive to dust mites, look into specialty mattress and pillow covers specifically designed to keep dust mites out.

 

4. The Bathroom

 

Problem: If an older mattress is like Times Square for dust mites, the bath mat in front of your shower is Hawaii.  Bath mats provide a warm, wet breeding ground for bacteria, mold and dust mites. When your shower’s over and you step on that bathmat, you’ll be drying yourself off while standing on dust mites. Oops.

Solution: First, towel off while you’re still standing in the tub or shower. (Slippers might come in handy here.)  Don’t sprinkle cornstarch on yourself—dust mites love the stuff.  And make sure washcloths, towels and bathmats get nice hot baths of their own in your washer, followed by a thorough drying, at least once a week.

5. The Refrigerator

Problem: Frost-free refrigerators have an electric coil in each freezer that melts frost every four hours. The melted water drips into a pan and then evaporates, thanks to warm air from the refrigerator’s compressor. But if that pan is filled with dust, your refrigerator will blow that dust into your home.

Newer refrigerators may not have a tray, but the coils on the back of the machine need to be dusted off regularly. Shut off the refrigerator’s power before undertaking this, and be sure to wear gloves to avoid injury from the sharp edges of the coils.

Solution: Give your refrigerator a regular cleaning, along with the wall and floor behind the refrigerator. Check your manufacturer’s instruction manual to determine whether there is a tray and to learn the best cleaning methods.

 

6. The Vacuum Cleaner

Problem: We all need a vacuum cleaner to suck up the allergens.  But your vacuum could be spewing them all back into the air. The best vacuums have HEPA filters (for High-Efficiency Particulate Air). These filter more than 99 percent of the particulates in the air. But beware of the “HEPA-like” filter, which doesn’t do much more than release particles into the air without filtering.

Solution: Double-check your vacuum for a HEPA filter. Make sure your cleaning service uses a HEPA-filter vacuum, as well, so your home isn’t being contaminated from allergens in previous houses.

7. Cleaning Products

Problem: Conventional cleaning products, like the ones you’ve been buying for years, may cause eye irritation, headaches, breathing problems, and at worst, be carcinogenic.  Many people clean with them, but they don’t take precautions against the harmful effects of commercial cleaning products.

Team Clean, the Philadelphia-based janitorial service, offers Green Clean solutions, which employ green cleaning best practices, including the use of safer and Earth-friendlier cleaning products.

Solution: Clean glass with a mixture of water and vinegar. Toss your abrasive scrubbing product and use baking soda instead. Soap and water can work just as well as a commercial cleaner for most surfaces. Alternatively, look for cleaning products marked “green” and be careful not to confuse “natural” products for those that are safer to use.

 

 

 

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.

Now, Team Clean Combats the Flu As They Clean

Philadelphia’s premier cleaning company, Team Clean, tackles office buildings, stadiums and national treasures.  And now, they’re armed with the very latest in cleanup technology, a system that attacks the flu as it cleans your space.

Say hello to the Clorox® Total 360® System, a revolutionary new surface treatment system that uses electrostatic technology to provide superior 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.”

The professional cleaning industry voted the Clorox Total 360 System the 2017 ISSA Innovation of the Year and named it the Visitors’ Choice Award winner.

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.

“Illness and absenteeism can have a huge impact on businesses,” notes Ms. Allie. “We do everything we can to help prevent the spread of infectious germs. The Clorox Total 360 System lets us do it in less time and with less product so we can provide efficient, comprehensive surface treatment that delivers an even cleaner, healthier environment for our clients.”

 

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.

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:

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.”

Losing Money

Is Your Cleaning Cleaning You Out? 8 Signs You’re Squandering Money

You may think you’ve gotten your office and building cleaning systems right where you want them.  But your current cleaning systems could be costing your business extra money and decreasing your bottom line.  Here are 8 key factors that could be costing you 20%, 30% or even 40% of your budget for cleaning and supplies.

  1. Too Many Products

It’s said that a great chef needs only two knives: a chef’s knife and a paring knife. An efficient janitorial staff also knows how to do more with less.

4+ cleaning products are too many. Specialty cleaners add up quickly, especially if you’re using multiple ready-to-use products. Look for products that can do all your multi-purpose cleaning– glass, grout, tile, floors, stainless steel, carpet and general surfaces.

  1. Inconsistent Training

How long does it take to train each new custodian? If you have to develop your own training program from scratch, or if the training materials provided are difficult to use, you’re wasting time and money while training your staff. A good training system is simple and crosses language barriers to get your custodians up to speed quickly. Of course, if you use a professional corporate janitorial service like Team Clean, no basic training is necessary.

  1. Accidental Surface Damage Costs

If an irate customer sends you a bill for bleach spots on a carpet, you’ve paid too much for your cleaning chemicals. Reduce your risk by using safer cleaning products. Look for products that are marked safe on any water-safe surface. If you must use products that could potentially damage surfaces, make sure the training is clear (see above) and that custodians know the proper handling procedures according to the product’s instructions.

  1. Workers’ Compensation Claims

6 out of 100 custodial workers file chemical-related Workers’ Comp claims per year.  No one wants to see staffers injured, and no one wants to deal with a Worker’s Comp claim. If you have reoccurring issues with chemical-related Worker’s Comp, it probably ties back to the safety profile of the products. How do you pick safer cleaning products?

  1. Those Ready-to-Use Blues

Ready-to-use (RTU) products seem convenient, but they’re far more costly than concentrated chemicals. You always want to look at the in-use cost per gallon. An RTU carpet spotter could run you $4 or $5 per quart, whereas a concentrated chemical could cost less than a dollar per quart. Plus, you get the added sustainability bonus of not having to dispose of all those RTU plastic bottles.

  1. Residue = Sticky = More Cleaning Time

Some cleaning products work by adding more and more detergent to the formula. Products like these can leave behind a lot of sticky chemical residue, meaning surfaces get dirtier faster. When your shoe (or, worse, your bare foot) sticks to the floor, that’s the excess detergent in the cleaning chemical making itself known. If your staff cleans the floor again with the same chemical, it just leaves more and more residue. It’s a vicious cycle that can only be broken by replacing that particular chemical with something that’s easier to work with.

  1. Angry Customers

If you have to go back and redo a cleaning task because of customer complaints, you’ve wasted extra time and money. This issue comes back to basic customer service, product effectiveness, and simple, straightforward training.

  1. Saving Green by Cleaning Green

A lot of people think that staying green is more expensive, but green is all about resource reduction.  Green cleaners are typically in concentrated form, reducing cost over ready-to-use products. They’re safer alternatives to traditional chemicals, so you’ll see less damage and less workers’ comp. Green products often come in eco-friendly containers. If you add greener cleaners on top of other green practices, like entry mats and high-efficiency equipment, you’ll be directly addressing almost all 8 of these cleaning issues that are unnecessarily costing you time and money.

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