Team Clean, Inc.

Life Lessons to Combat the Flu

Every parent has warned, “Don’t touch that, you’ll get germs!” and shouted, “Go wash your hands!”

The fight to keep little ones healthy can seem like a losing battle. Children constantly put their fingers in their mouths, wipe their noses and rub their eyes. With each motion, they essentially spread germs and parents can only follow them with disinfecting wipes for so long.

Eventually, those children grow up and need to apply their parents’ advice – recognizing what they should and shouldn’t touch and learning when to wash their hands.

You Never Stop Learning

Flash forward to young adults attending college.  For most, living on campus marks the first opportunity to be away from home and the watchful eyes of parents. Suddenly, these independent students have to remember to take their own vitamins and get a good night’s sleep.

Shared spaces at colleges and universities increase the likelihood of spreading germs. Students and faculty repeatedly pass through classrooms, cafeterias, and bathrooms and they unconsciously touch common surfaces like stair rails and door handles. This constant exposure to germs could lead to illnesses.

The influenza (flu) virus can be spread when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or even talks in close proximity. Sometimes the flu can be transmitted by touching a surface with the flu virus and then touching one’s own mouth, eyes or nose. An infectious virus plus young people, with lower immunities from lack of sleep and (possibly) poor diets, equals a perfect storm for a flu epidemic.

Time to Take Notes

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests “the best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year.” The organization also recommends staying home, covering sneezes and coughs and washing hands (where have we heard that before?).

The CDC also reported, “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.” To help slow the spread of the flu virus, the organization suggests cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects in the schools. This includes frequently touched items like desks, doorknobs and computer keyboards. The CDC also claims that “flu viruses are relatively fragile, so standard cleaning and disinfecting practices are sufficient to remove or kill them.” Some tips to consider:

Cleaning 101


  • Kills germs on surfaces and objects
  • Uses chemicals
  • Reduces the risk of spreading the infection
  • Helps clean electronics – phones and computers (disinfecting wipes)


  • Removes germs and dirt from surfaces and objects
  • Works with soap (detergent) and water
  • Doesn’t necessarily kill germs, but lowers the number of germs
  • Reduces the risk of spreading the infection


  • Reduces the number of germs on surfaces and objects
  • Works by cleaning or disinfecting

The CDC strongly urges following the directions on the labels of cleaning products and disinfectants and confirming that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved their effectiveness against the influenza A virus.

Locations with large populations of people, like colleges and universities, should take precaution during cold and flu season. The administration and on-campus clinic should react quickly to reported cases of the flu by posting reminders about vaccinations and proper cleaning and disinfecting techniques. And of course, they should remind everyone: “WASH YOUR HANDS!”

Electrostatic Sprayers

Taking Charge of Germs

Consider how many common objects you touch in a given day – door handles, key pads at check-out, faucets, shopping carts, railings – the list goes on.

Now imagine the amount of unclean hands touching those same surfaces. Even if you routinely wash your hands, you can’t avoid the harmful bacteria and viruses accumulating on common objects. These germs continue to grow and start the dominoes falling as one by one they spread to each new hand that touches them.

Fighting the Spread of Germs…
Thoroughly cleaning common surfaces with safe disinfectants helps stop germs from spreading. But can a spray cleaner and rag handle such a big job? For a complete assault on germs, consider an electrostatic sprayer. This easy-to-use tool covers more surfaces faster than traditional spray bottles. Plus, it uses less chemicals while providing full coverage of objects.

…at the office
The influenza virus can live up to 24 hours, so diligent hand washing is imperative. If you touch an infected surface and then touch your mouth, eyes or nose, the likelihood of getting sick increases exponentially.

Studies have found that the work place can be a breeding ground for germs. Your desk could be ground zero, starting with your keyboard and phone. Contaminated common areas include, but are certainly not limited to, elevator buttons, staircase railings and door handles. An electrostatic sprayer can quickly and safely disinfect your personal space and high traffic areas to destroy harmful organisms.

…at the gym
Signs posted at the gym remind guests to wipe down equipment after each use. It’s common courtesy to wipe sweat off of a machine, but is that enough to reduce the spread of infections?

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA is a type of staph bacteria that often causes skin infections. MRSA can be passed to another person through body contact with an infected wound, by sharing personal items like a towel or using exercise equipment that has touched the infected skin. To reduce the risk of spreading MRSA and other infections, gym equipment, locker rooms and saunas should all be sanitized with an electrostatic sprayer.

…in the schools
A petri dish is defined as a container used for culturing bacteria and other microorganisms. That sounds a lot like day care centers and schools. The continuous parade of unwashed hands and shared surfaces provide the ideal environment for spreading germs and infections.

Using a handheld electrostatic sprayer can efficiently clean these surfaces thoroughly by targeting entire objects. And there’s no need to touch surfaces by hand. Plus, sanitizing the contents of a room with an electrostatic sprayer improves air quality and eliminates odors, without the strong smell of bleach that results from many spray bottle cleaning solutions.

…in many locations
The technology behind the electrostatic sprayers allows the system to work with different chemicals like biocides and disinfectants for veterinary clinics, hospitals, food processing plants and much more. The sprayers can also be used to apply insecticides or fumigants from warehouses to barns.

It’s important to adopt a cleaning protocol that helps stop infections from spreading. Traditional spray cleaning bottles do not provide complete surface coverage. Paper towels generate a lot of waste, while repeatedly using the same cloth could become ineffective. To cover more surfaces faster, with less chemicals, clean with confidence and clean with an electrostatic sprayer.

Why Uniforms Make a Difference?

Achieving Uniformity
On any given day, you can spot a sports fan, college alum or guess where someone works. How do you know? The logos and colors they’re wearing are the first clue. A closer look reveals a team, school or company name embroidered on a hat or printed on a piece of clothing. This unofficial “uniform” symbolizes a brand and its message.

Wearing a favorite player’s jersey shows respect for the team and the athlete. After all, you’ve got another person’s name printed on your back – that’s showing support. And the fans at a game show their allegiance to the home team with a sea of people decked out in the same color. The sense of pride is obvious, bonding thousands of strangers in a stadium or arena together.

On the field, court or ice, players wear uniforms. In addition to sports teams, employees in restaurants, retail chains, mass transit, hospitals and more can also be identified by their uniforms. There is one thing that these people have in common. “One” being the key word. It comes from the Latin, unus or uni (Merriam-Webster). These people are showing unity, a form of harmony. Through their shared occupation, they have created a union and stand united.

First Impressions
If you’re looking for help in a store, there’s a sense of comfort locating an employee. Finding assistance is easier when the staff wears matching shirts and name tags. Uniforms provide a neat appearance and instill a sense of confidence in the customer and the employee. The customer trusts that the employee will provide assistance, and the employee feels pride in their knowledge.

Wearing the Brand
A company logo and name reveal a brand and the brand’s message. Employees wearing a uniform are essentially walking billboards, so make sure they look good. Your staff will look professional in embroidered polo or button-down shirts. Matching hats create a more casual, but relatable look, while showing off the logo or slogan. The more exposure the brand gets, the more customers will recognize the company.

Showing Pride
Police officers, fire fighters and emergency medical personnel proudly wear their uniforms and follow the code that comes with earning it. These first responders are instantly recognized and respected for their commitment to serving others. Public servants’ uniforms also include badges, name tags and other emblems to symbolize rank.

Ranking Uniforms
In other occupations, company uniforms can help distinguish a hierarchy. When an employee gets promoted, they can be rewarded with a managerial-level uniform as a sign of respect. This modification could include a different color or style of shirt, or the addition of a tie, scarf or jacket. This simple uniform variation provides a visual reminder of leadership among the staff, while maintaining brand awareness.

When a team or employees wear a uniform, they promote the sense of “one.” They now represent the same organization. Together, they establish an equality that doesn’t reflect their personal income or social status. Instead, by wearing their uniform, they present a company’s brand and its ideals.

What Relocating Commercial Tenants Want

If a company needs to relocate, every minute of the transition could mean lost revenue.  Technological and communication advancements have certainly improved the ability to work remotely, however, a physical workspace is often critical.  Service industries like legal and medical practitioners need to meet clients and patients on a regular basis. Each day a company cannot schedule appointments, it loses money.

Relocating commercial tenants have to transition into a new space quickly and easily. Here’s what they need:

  1. Move-in Condition

A fresh coat of paint and a thorough cleaning provide the foundation for a ready-to-move-in space.  The addition of working lights and energy-efficient window treatments save prospective tenants time and money too. Perhaps new tenants need temporary desks, chairs, filing cabinets, shelving and more.  By offering a furniture package and wall dividers, to organize large areas into cubicles, a new tenant can settle into the space faster.

  1. Meeting Tech Specs

Without the proper means for communication, a business cannot survive. A commercial tenant needs dependable, fast WiFi as well as cable and phone lines in multiple locations. Some tenants may also request television hook-ups in waiting areas.

  1. Maintained Common Areas

A tenant’s main concern is the operation of their business, so building maintenance should not be a concern. When transitioning to a new location, business owners need to be reassured that management will promote the same high level of quality that each tenant offers their own clients.

On the outside

The property or facility manager must maintain the exterior grounds – this includes overall curb appeal with regular landscaping service, effective lighting, and prominent signs.  Sidewalks and building surfaces should be power washed and windows should be cleaned regularly.

On the inside

Once an employee, guest or client has entered the building, the overall impression is created in the lobby.  Decorative features add to a professional environment: contemporary artwork, nice furniture, potted plants, good lighting and even soft music. Restrooms should be available on each floor and serviced daily.

  1. Building Amenities


Posted security personnel deter criminal activity and protect the tenants and their guests or clients. For added security, some offices require employees to wear identification badges, some may need to be scanned to access the building or their company’s office.


Employees and guests should have ample parking choices near the building.  The lot should be well-lit and monitored for safety.


A large office building may provide a mail service to accommodate many floors and offices.  However, a smaller building should have a secure system for receiving mail and accepting packages.


Depending on the size of the building or complex, the facility manager may rent space to vendors to sell snacks and coffee in the lobby, particularly for visitors.  To accommodate tenants, some buildings may offer a full-service cafeteria, barber or work-out facility.

 Building Receptionist

A lobby receptionist can answer visitors’ questions, sign in guests, handle deliveries or call to announce visitors.

  1. Fully-equipped Meeting Spaces

Many tenants need access to small or large meeting rooms and a professional conference room. These spaces should also be temperature-controlled and equipped with adjustable lighting and window shades. For meeting efficiency, the following should be standard: phones, wipe boards, a projection screen, and a television monitor. If these rooms are shared with other tenants in the building, an electronic reservation system should be in place for booking them.

Commercial tenants want to quickly move into a new space with little disruption to their current operation.  A smooth transition helps maintain productivity and provide uninterrupted customer service, without losing income.

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.

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.

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    Team Clean’s headquarters at the Philadelphia Navy Yard are open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.