How do I know if a cleaning product is safe to use?
The most important thing to do is read the label. Just because a product has a Green Seal or US Green Building Council label on it does not mean that it cannot do damage to you or the item that you are working on. There will always be warnings on the label pertaining to proper use and accidental ingestion. Be sure to check dilution rates and adhere to those guidelines. Just because “a little is good” does not mean “a lot will be better.” Never mix two cleaning products together unless you have knowledge about the reaction that can be caused by the mixture.
Test in an inconspicuous location on the item you are trying to clean. Wait until the surface is completely dry before determining whether or not to proceed.
What are the four variables of cleaning effectiveness?
OK, this question is not frequently asked – but it should be. The Four variables are:
The longer chemicals are working usually the more effective they are. When you soak really dirty dishes in water overnight they are much easier to clean the next day as the soils have emulsified. Also, anti-microbial / anti-bacterial chemicals have specified dwell times to kill germs. And of course, it is recommended to sing a children’s rhyme twice through while washing your hands to give the soap time to emulsify and encapsulate the soils on your hands.
Generally speaking the hotter an object [including water] the faster the molecules making up that matter are moving. [This is why those objects often expand in size.] The faster the molecules are working the faster the chemical reactions will occur – thus speeding up the cleaning time.
Everything is made up of chemicals. Certain chemical compounds react with other chemical compounds in consistent ways. In the cleaning process we must be concerned with the ph level [alkalinity] of our cleaning solutions as well as degreasing abilities and solvent or enzyme content. Can’t resist, here’s just one chemistry joke:
A neutron walks into a bar and asks “how much for a drink?” the bartender says “For you, no charge”
Mechanical cleaning action is nothing more than abrasion. The more abrasive the more effective the cleaning. Choosing the correct level of mechanical action is important. For example, the abrasiveness of a terry towel to clean a hand print off of a wall would be a smarter choice than using a steel wool pad which would damage the paint.
How does soap work?
On a detailed and scientific level “soaps” are sodium or potassium fatty acids salts, produced from the hydrolysis of fats in a chemical reaction called saponification. Each soap molecule has a long hydrocarbon chain, sometimes called its ‘tail’, with a carboxylate ‘head’. In water, the sodium or potassium ions float free, leaving a negatively-charged head.
Soap is an excellent cleanser because of its ability to act as an emulsifying agent. An emulsifier is capable of dispersing one liquid into another immiscible liquid. This means that while oil (which attracts dirt) doesn’t naturally mix with water, soap can suspend oil/dirt in such a way that it can be removed.
Why do spots on carpet reappear shortly after the carpets are cleaned?
The most common reason for spots to reappear is due to large amounts of liquids that have soaked into the backing of the carpet or into the padding below. Sugars or other soils that are beyond the reach of a hot water extraction method of cleaning are left behind when the fibers closest to the surface are cleaned. During the final stages of the drying process when the last bit of moisture is evaporating those sugars and soils “wick” up the carpet fibers to the surface. The carpet fibers on the surface are now “sticky” and will soon re-soil.
The best way to fix this problem is to clean the soiled areas after the carpeting is completely dry for the initial cleaning process. The trick is not to over-wet the carpeting on the subsequent cleanings so the “wicking” action will not recur. Blotting the carpeting with a lightly damp towel is the best technique. If the soils are transferred to the cleaning towel then keep turning the towel and repeating until the towel is no longer getting a soil transfer. If a transfer is occurring without using any chemicals [other than water] on the towel then do not use any chemicals. Any soaps or cleaning agents that are left on the carpet fiber will make them sticky and prone to attracting more soils.
It may take two or more subsequent spotting sessions to get the spot removed from the top of the carpet. Although the spot may no longer be visible on the carpet we all know that deep in the backing of the carpet or in the pad below there are still sugars and soils. Hopefully they will stay there, but they may reappear the next time the carpet is “steam cleaned” and the carpet fibers are wet enough for the soils to once again wick to the surface.
What is the difference between and spot and a stain?
A spot can be “got” but a stain will remain. That may sound a little silly, but in reality we sometimes must bow to the laws of nature and resign ourselves that we cannot always reverse certain chemical reactions and may not be able to restore items to their original condition. Understanding how spots happen and what options are available gives us the best chance to keep spots from becoming stains.
What can I do to help my carpets and flooring last longer?
The most dangerous thing to all floors and carpets is abrasion. It is the small particles of sand, dirt and debris that act like sandpaper and grind the fibers of your carpeting and the finish on your floors away. The “pounds per square inch” under the heel of a shoe or the ball of a foot is much higher than you might imagine and the microscopic grinding that your floors endure is amazing.
Vacuum carpets and dust mop or sweep hard floors frequently.
Use walk off mats to prevent the little particles of dirt and sand from getting on your flooring and carpet.
Spots or spills on hard floors or carpets might look bad, but they don’t cause your flooring to wear out. Stop the abrasion and your floors will look better and last longer.
Is Scotchgarding my carpet or sofa a smart choice for me?
Maybe. Scotchgard is actually the 3M brand name of a chemical that is also distributed by other manufacturers but since 3M “cornered the market” of this chemical so early the name has become synonymous with the process. The Scotchgarding process is actually the application of a temporary coating of a Teflon based chemical barrier. In simple terms this process puts a slight “waterproofing” barrier on the fibers. This barrier slows down the absorption of liquids and soils into the fibers thus allowing greater chance for spills to be cleaned before they stain the fibers.
The Scotchgarding process does not prevent soiling from happening but it does prevent the likelihood of stains occurring. [See “The difference between and Spot and a Stain.”] It also makes the eventual deep cleaning process of the carpet or sofa much more effective as many soils were prevented from going deep into the fibers. During a wet or “steam cleaning” process most of the Scotchgard treatment is removed from the fibers and Scotchgard would need to be reapplied to the carpet or sofa.
Many modern carpet fibers and upholstery fabrics are now manufactured with built in Teflon type coatings and Scotchgard treatment is just not necessary. If you carpet or upholstery is not made of such a fiber you might want to consider having the treatment applied, especially if the fibers are light colored or in a situation where there are likely to be subject to spills or abuse.
What is the length of time that I am committed to use Big Green Cleaning Company for an office cleaning service?
Unless your company specifies otherwise the standard Big Green Cleaning Company contract is a month-to-month contract with just 30 days required by either party for cancellation. There is no long-term commitment or risk. Our philosophy is that if we are not pleasing you we do not deserve to be there. Our goal is that we will be your cleaning company; month-to-month – Forever!