Monday, July 29, 2013

What's In Your Prespray?

This article was originally published in Cleanfax. 

There are a variety of prespray products, and all have multiple components. This article will analyze some of the leading ingredients used in presprays, what those ingredients deliver and how they can fall short.

Much has been written about this class of molecule and most cleaners are familiar with surfactants and surfactant types: Anionic, cationic, amphoteric and nonionic. Surfactant molecules provide the following services: Foaming, surface tension lowering, wetting, soil suspension and emulsification. The industry uses hundreds of different surfactant types.

What can go wrong with surfactants? Some are mutually incompatible, some foam when you don’t want foam, some biodegrade very slowly and some are irritating to skin, eyes and lungs — even the ones used in cosmetics and toothpaste. Of course, the worst characteristic for cleaners is that some leave sticky residues that lead to the dreaded customer complaint about resoiling.

Some tips when using surfactant containing products:
  • Use no more than the recommended label concentration. Surfactants don’t always work better at higher concentrations. Sometimes the performance actually declines.
  • If you get creative and think you have an additive that works great in a surfactant containing product, check with the manufacturer first. You might indeed have a great idea, but there might be a compatibility problem.
  • Low foaming surfactants are becoming ever more popular and they actually work pretty well. If you are accustomed to seeing foam during a preconditioning, for example, and you don’t see it when testing a new product, fear not. If it cleans, the lack of foam will make the extraction process much easier.
The story on solvents is similar to that of surfactants: Hundreds of types, multiple functions and multiple downsides. Water is actually a very unique molecule and is very important in cleaning. The major function of a solvent is, of course, to dissolve something. That “something” is intended to be the soil but, hopefully, will not include the fabric, the shiny coating on the surface or a textile dye.

Polar solvents tend to dissolve in water, and non-polar solvents tend to dissolve in oil. Solvent polarity crosses the entire spectrum so that a product formulator can dial in virtually any solubility that he or she wants. It is very common to use a blend of solvents in a prespray in order to attack specific soil types. We often describe water soluble and solvent soluble soils, so an intelligent selection of solvents goes a long way toward removing such diverse materials as petroleum based soils, cosmetics stains, dried fruit juice and so forth.

Solvents have received more than their share of attention over the years. Volatile types can, but do not always, cause bad odor, health issues, air pollution and fire hazards. Because of these problems, solvents have received a lot of regulatory attention, so cleaners continue to see dramatic changes in product design. California, for example, updated their volatile solvent regulations once again as of December 31, 2012.

Your customers also tend to be somewhat concerned about solvents for fear of odor and/or health impact. The trend therefore is to use solvents that will not evaporate but are very water soluble and easily biodegraded.

Most cleaners have seen and used enzymes in the form of spotters, presprays and odor control agents at one time or another. Perhaps the best way of describing an enzyme, at least the types used in cleaning products, is that they are a pair of chemical scissors. They find something to cut, cut it and then move along to the next thing. Just as a pair of literal scissors is not changed or destroyed when properly used to cut paper, so too an enzyme molecule reacts to break down a soil type but isn’t changed or destroyed in the process.
Enzymes have become popular for several reasons. They are viewed as relatively safe because they are not corrosive and don’t generate ozone such as would a solvent. They are also naturally derived, which is a very popular catch phrase these days.

As with surfactants, we can offer a few tips on proper use:
  • Enzymes tend to be pretty fussy about their environment. They usually work better when warm, but not too warm. They become ineffective if temperatures are too hot. They also work best in a specific pH range, so don’t get creative with acidic or alkaline additives unless the manufacturer specifies their use.
  • Enzymes like to do their work in a fairly leisurely manner. They don’t have a schedule to keep. You have to be patient and allow enough contact time for them to be effective.
  • Enzymes can be pretty irritating to the lungs, so avoid breathing dusts or aerosols generated during normal application. After all, the enzyme can’t tell the difference between the protein soil in the carpet and the lining of your lungs.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Introducing the New STANDard in Stand-On Scrubbers

We are excited to introduce the SC1500™ REV™ stand-on scrubber, our most recent addition to its innovative line of REV automatic scrubbers. As a market leader in floor cleaning technology, Advance is strengthening its industry reputation by expanding its unique REV technology into the stand-on scrubber category.

The SC1500 stand-on scrubber delivers increased cleaning productivity, with up to 109 minutes of cleaning per tankful, over other stand-on scrubbers in the marketplace. With a compact, easily maneuverable design, the SC1500 allows operators to step up and start cleaning. To satisfy both daily and deep scrubbing applications, the SC1500 is available in a 20-inch REV or 20-inch disc model.

With a large 12-gallon tank capacity, low flow rate, up to 3.5-hours of battery runtime and fast operating speed, the SC1500 provides efficient cleaning performance. Requiring minimal operator training, the SC1500 features a OneTouch scrub on/off switch and intuitive dashboard controls. Additional benefits include:
  • Easy handling allows operators to simply step up, push the pedal and start cleaning
  • Uniform scrubbing with no swirl marks and floor finish removal capabilities with the SC1500 REV scrubs deeper while using far less water and chemicals
  • One pass cleaning through increased down pressure enhances cleaning productivity
  • Low noise level and silent mode enable daytime cleaning and cleaning of noise-sensitive areas
  • Sustainable cleaning is achieved with the standard, onboard EcoFlex™ System, allowing operators to effortlessly switch between chemical-free cleaning or select from weak to strong cleaning intensities

Due to its simple operation, high capacity and productive, quiet cleaning performance, the SC1500 is ideally suited for daily cleaning in hospitals and health care facilities, schools, office buildings, restaurants, shops and supermarkets.

Read the full press release here.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Three Keys to Green Carpet Care

This article was originally published in ISSA.

While the practice of green cleaning in schools and offices has become fairly common, green carpet care is a lesser-known exercise. This is unfortunate because in many facilities, carpet is the largest surface used on a daily basis, and some carpet-cleaning methods have the potential to negatively impact the environment.

To help facilitate the discussion and bring awareness to the subject, let’s define green carpet care as using systems, products, and procedures to help keep carpets clean and healthy with the least amount of impact on the cleaning worker, building occupants, and the environment.

Green carpet cleaning can be accomplished when the following three key principles are employed.

Building occupant involvement. Green carpet care is a shared responsibility. This means building users must do their part by immediately pointing out stains, spots, and soiled areas of the carpet to cleaning professionals. This is important because stains and spots have a tendency to attract more contaminants, making the carpet unhealthy and stain removal all the more difficult. Attending to a problem area quickly also can mean that less chemical will be necessary to clean it. Whenever less chemical is used in any type of cleaning, it is better for the health of the user and the environment.

Appropriate chemical selection. Similar to other cleaning products, carpet care chemicals have evolved over the years and many green-certified carpet cleaning chemicals exist today. Many of these products can become more effective when a heated carpet extractor is used. In turn, this can mean that less chemical is necessary, again helping to reduce the chemical’s impact on the user and the environment.

The problem with some older or more conventional carpet cleaning chemicals is that they may release high levels of volatile organic compounds—or VOCs—into the air. They also contain a number of ingredients that we now know can cause a variety of health-related problems. For instance, some traditional chemicals have been identified as triggering asthma attacks in children.

When considering a switch from conventional to green carpet cleaning, facility managers and cleaning professionals must be aware that not all green-certified chemicals are alike. Some chemicals may work better in different situations and on certain types of carpet. Trial and error may be called for; however, a chemical solution will invariably be identified that is not only effective but also environmentally preferable.

Proper equipment selection. Along with proven environmentally-preferable cleaning chemicals, portable carpet extractors have advanced over the years and now contribute significantly to making carpet cleaning greener and healthier. Low-moisture technology also can be a crucial component to green carpet cleaning. While climate and other indoor environment conditions can impact drying results, the ultimate goal of low-moisture carpet cleaning is for carpets to dry in about two hours after cleaning. This helps prevent mold and mildew as well as any resoiling that can occur when carpets are left damp for too long. And, of course, blocked-off areas can be opened to foot traffic more quickly with low-moisture cleaning.

However, achieving low-moisture carpet cleaning does not necessarily require the use of extractors that use less water. Instead, some of today’s advanced machines employ a combination of powerful vacuum motors and more effective wands, which apply water or cleaning solution to carpets and extract so quickly that moisture never rests on the carpet. The process is often referred to as atomization and it can help ensure carpets dry quickly, helping to meet the goal of low-moisture carpet cleaning.

Ultimately, these steps can help make the largest-used surface in a facility healthier and greener. With consistent use, they can serve to make the entire facility healthier and greener as well.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Selecting the Ideal Cleaning Equipment for Manufacturing Markets

Soils ranging from ordinary dust and dirt to oil and debris are commonplace on factory floors, requiring an industrial-strength floor cleaning solution. Our rugged floor cleaning equipment tackles these challenges with ease, cleaning thoroughly while delivering a low maintenance design that increases productivity. The equipment also boasts large debris trays and high quality air filters that work together to capture floor soils without contaminating the air—maintaining a healthy environment for your employees.

Visit our manufacturing page to learn more and select from a variety of equipment for your next cleaning application. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

How to Repair Damaged Marble Floors?

This article was originally published in Cleaning & Maintenance Management.

I just took over the housekeeping in an old office building. The last cleaning service used floor finish on rough and smooth marble squares, leaving a darkened and chipping finish. Can this floor be stripped and cleaned properly without floor finish? I know marble should only be ground and buffed with a light mopping to clean.

Many times we have to continue to do what has been done in the past because changing processes would be too time consuming and costly. Normally, you should and can maintain marble flooring without the use of a topical sealer. The challenge, in your case, may be the difficulty of removing the existing finish as well as the condition of the floor.
Testing in a small area, such as one square of each texture, may be the best bet.

If you can get the existing finish off the floor and end up with an acceptable appearance, there may be hope. I'm not sure why there is a rough finish; it could be by design or just the result of improper maintenance over the years. Prior to making a decision, you may also want to consult several local stone maintenance and restoration specialists to see what they would recommend.

If you do use a stripper, it is important that you rinse extremely well so no alkaline residue remains on the surface or in the stone. Once the floor has dried for at least 12 hours, one or two coats of a penetrating sealer should be applied. 

This answer was supplied by Bill Griffin, president of Cleaning Consultant Services Inc.