Mold and Mildew Prevention

Mold and mildew are particularly tough cleaning foes. There’s nothing worse than black and green spots crawling along your grout lines and up the walls of your bathroom – not to mention mold’s toxic affects on air quality. Mold spores have been linked to rashes, congestion, fatigue, headaches, chronic sinusitis, as well as other afflictions in more sensitive individuals. You may be used to turning to bleach immediately when you see mold rear its ugly head, but there are ways to fight it that don’t involve harming your lungs and skin.

Preventing mold from growing in the first place is obviously the ideal non-toxic solution. What prevention really comes down to is humidity. Take away moisture and mold can’t grow. Here are some tips to help you make your bathroom as dry as possible.

A bathroom-venting fan is your first line of defense. Make sure it is rated to fit the size of your bathroom. One rule of thumb: a fan must exhaust 1 cubic foot per minute (CFM) for every square foot. So, a 40-square-foot bathroom needs a fan rated for 40 CFM. Run the fan during showers and afterward for at least 20 minutes.

Keep a thermometer that also measures humidity or a hygrometer in the bathroom and in at least ne other room in the house. Relative humidity levels should be kept below 50%. Use a dehumidifier, heater, or air-conditioner when other moisture controls fail.

Repair any leaks in your bathroom and elsewhere in your home or office building. Be aware that mold can grow inside your walls and ceiling. Any source of moisture will help mold thrive.

To learn more about how Landrum’s Services skill and expertise can eliminate maintenance problems in your place of business visit www.landrumsservices.com.

Tips for Finding a Real Green Cleaning Company- Beyond the RFP

Just about every cleaning company is now touting their “green” record. Companies have replaced their old equipment for more sustainable, greener choices, and they have traded in their toxic cleaners for safer ones. But how do you know that the custodial company you are working with is doing more than adding some sustainability check boxes to their RFP? Building owners/managers understand now more than ever that sustainability practices are not only good for the environment, but are also cost effective. So what is a building owner to do? How can they cut through the red tape to find out who his delivering a green service?

We hope these tips will help you figure it out:

Training: Inquire about the training regimen — it should include initial green training as well as safety training and refresher courses.

Standard Operating Procedures- The SOP’s should specify acceptable procedures for each process. They should be clear and reasonable and should fully address waste handling and disposal, as well.

Management- What are the metrics of the day-to-day management process? There should be a clear commitment to managing green metrics.

Reporting- Are reports and results readily and easily available to you?

Purchasing- Is there a clearly defined purchasing and distribution process that outlines what is acceptable and what is not? If the building manager is doing the purchasing, is there a tool available to ensure they are purchasing the right supplies?

Safety- Ask to look at their safety records. A company’s safety record says a whole lot about its overall management and practices as a whole.

It is a big challenge to find the right custodial company for your building, we hope these tips help you through the process.

 

 

 

Take Pride in Yourself

As I worked in my office last week, I watched two young men walk in to apply for positions with my company. They were wearing hoodies and blue jeans, and they had obviously had no experience in how to handle themselves in an interview. It was clear that they never were given any guidance on how to present themselves in an interview, how to communicate effectively through how you look and what you say. I found myself pulled to speak to them, to offer them some advice from a man who had been in their shoes. When I was a young man, I was a custodian. That is not a job that a lot of people will take seriously and be proud of. After suffering through personal trials, I decided to take pride in what I do every single day. When I was promoted in the school district I worked in, I started wearing a suit to work. People asked me why a custodian would wear a suit. I knew that I needed to take pride in the path God put out for me to follow, that I needed to do what I do to the best of my ability. Once I made that change in my heart and mind, success followed. I consider it a responsibility to support programs that help young people build skills, grow confidence, and understand the value of hard work and dedication to whatever job you end up working at.

What Does Clean Smell Like?

Have you ever noticed that certain scents can bring forth a rush of memories? Whenever I walk into an elementary school cafeteria, I am instantly transported back to my youth. I can almost feel the plastic tray in my hands as I try to make the difficult choice of what to eat that day. Certain colognes remind me of old flames, bringing about an intense emotional reaction. The same holds true for how most people expect “clean” to smell.

Most of us have been raised with bleach, pine, ammonia, and lemon oil as the scents that we associate with cleanliness. When we walk into a building and smell bleach and pine, we just know that the building is clean. That’s what our homes smelled like after our families cleaned, so surely that is what a clean building should smell like. But are those scents actually the smell of “clean”? Not really. What we are smelling that we think is “clean” is fumes from the chemical cleaners. Many of those fumes are toxic. But since our brains associate the scents with cleanliness, we are rarely affronted by them.

What does “clean” smell like, then? In a word: nothing. A truly clean environment should not have any odors. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of clean is:

a : free from dirt or pollution <changed to clean clothes><clean solar energy>

b : free from contamination or disease <a clean wound>

c : free or relatively free from radioactivity <a clean atomic explosion>

A truly clean environment should not have chemical odors. If you are cleaning with non-toxic and chemical-free products, you may end up smelling a little vinegar, or maybe a little bit of orange, lemon, or lavender. But that is about it. Many of the natural cleaning products on the market today are scented with essential oils such as lavender, orange, tea tree, pine, and lemon because the consumer expects their home to have those fragrances if it is really clean. Incidentally, it helps that those oils do have amazing antibacterial and sanitizing properties.

Landrum’s Services Top 10 Eco-Friendly Cleaning Ingredients

When we mention air pollution, the first things that come to mind are car exhaust and smog. According to the EPA, indoor air is typically 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air. Winter is just around the corner, and with it comes closed windows and very little time outdoors in the fresh air. Now is the time to start using Landrum’s Services Top 10 Eco-Friendly Cleaning Ingredients to eliminate the harmful chemicals from the air in your workplace (and home).

Non-toxic ingredients are just as effective at cleaning, disinfecting, and deodorizing as harmful, toxic ingredients like chlorine bleach and triclosan.

1. Baking Soda- Works great as a deodorizer and non-abrasive cleanser. Try sprinkling it on your carpets before you vacuum, mixing it with water to use as a paste to clean your oven, and applying to a damp sponge to clean sinks and counters.
2. White Distilled Vinegar- Clean windows, remove soap scum, sanitize counters and refrigerators, and much more. Vinegar can be used full-strength in a bottle to be sprayed on virtually any surface that you want to deodorize. To use as a glass cleaner, we recommend using equal parts vinegar and water. For a streak-free, lint-free shine, wipe dry with crumpled newspaper.
3. Borax- Cleanse, deodorize, disinfect, soften your water, and remove stains with this wonder-product. Sprinkle borax on your carpet, let it settle in for about 30 minutes, then vacuum away your carpet odors. Add it to your laundry to increase the efficacy of your detergent, and sprinkle it along your walls to deter pests.
4. MonoFoil- Eliminate molds, mildews, and microbes for long periods of time with MonoFoil. Apply MonoFoil to all areas that are prone to mold, and it keeps the mold away for up to 30 days. Use it on all your frequently touched areas like doors, phones, bathroom surfaces, and the copy machine to prevent the spread of illness in the workplace.
5. Citrus Oils- These are nature’s stain removers. The acid in citrus fruits make them great cleansing agents, as well. A few small drops combined with water will work for most applications, including disinfecting, air freshening, cutting grease, and cleaning paint brushes. The wonderful scent left behind leaves everyone confident in the cleanliness of your building, as well.
6. Reusable microfiber cloths- Use these to dust. They pick up dust particles without needing any chemical help, and they leave no residue.
7. Tea Tree Oil- One of nature’s most powerful disinfectants, add 2 teaspoons to 2 cups of water and pour into a spray bottle. Spray it on anything that is musty or mildewy. Within a few days the smell will be gone. Tea tree oil is also great to use anywhere you need an antiseptic.
8. Hydrogen Peroxide- Commonly used as a disinfectant, it can be used to wash the pesticides from produce. Clean walls and countertops with 3% hydrogen peroxide by spraying on and wiping off like you would with any household cleaner. To clean floors, add 1 cup of 35% hydrogen peroxide to a gallon bucket of hot water. For everyday maintenance of floors, you can simply spray 3% hydrogen peroxide directly onto the floor and mop.
9. Washing soda- A relative of baking soda, washing soda cuts grease, cleans petroleum oil, removes wax and lipstick, and neutralizes odors.
10. Kosher salt- A little bit of kosher salt and some elbow grease make a terrific scouring powder. Stubborn coffee pot stains don’t stand a chance against kosher salt and ice cubes. Pour in 2 tablespoons of salt, add 6-8 ice cubes, and shake vigorously. Rinse it out, and you won’t believe your eyes.

These 10 items can be used as a replacement for just about any harsh cleaner you are currently using. Check out the Ecocycle website for recipes using these ingredients: http://www.ecocycle.org/hazwaste/recipes.cfm.

Breathe easier this fall and winter by using these great eco-friendly cleaning ingredients. Put a few plants in the office and let them clean the air for you. You will be surprised at how much better your workplace and home will smell, how much better you feel, and how much money you will save on sick days, tissue, and cough drops.

 

Cleaning Tip for September

4 Tips to Extend the Life of Your Carpet

Businesses often choose to invest in carpeting for its warmth and inviting feel. It’s only natural to want that investment to last and look great as long as possible.

1. Mats- Place mats at high traffic areas, particularly entrances. Mats can protect your carpet from damage caused by dirt coming in and out of your building. They are smaller and easier to clean than an entire carpet, and they can stop a significant amount of debris from ever making it into your building. Make sure your maintenance professional is cleaning the mats on a regular basis, though, to maximize efficacy.

2. Vacuuming- Dry vacuuming is the best way to remove dry soils such as dirt, dust, sand, and gravel. High frequency vacuuming removes a high percentage of these dry soils before they can slip into the carpet’s pile and cause damage.

3. Spot Cleaning- Spills do happen. Our recommendation is to blot, not rub, the spill with a clean white towel. This will remove much of the spill without damaging your carpet fibers.

4. Steam Clean in the Spring and Fall- Revitalize the appearance of your carpet with semi-annual steam cleaning. Research shows that steam cleaning provides the best results due to high temperatures and pressure. Oily residue is removed, and appearance is noticeably improved.

Studies prove carpets that are maintained well last 3-4 years longer than those that are not maintained. You gain the benefits of aesthetically pleasing flooring, improved air quality, and expense reduction.

If you have questions about how a carpet maintenance routine can be implemented in your place of business, contact Landrum’s Services today.

School Cleaning and Maintenance Tips

Children and toxic chemicals don’t mix. With the sheer numbers of children in class rooms, cafeterias, and gyms, many custodial services are overwhelmed with cleaning and maintenance problems. The growing dangers of superbug and flu strains post a challenge to schools and families, as well, and schools are the perfect breeding ground for these germs.

Unfortunately, most custodial companies use “industrial strength” cleaners that throw off toxic fumes into the air.  Children can be affected by these toxic cleaners through inhalation, skin contact, or ingestion. The side effects are many, with some of the most serious being headaches, nausea, and the worsening of asthma conditions.

Here are some signs that your child may be suffering from poor air quality at school:

1. Your child starts the day healthy, but develops a headache or nausea during the school day.

2. Your child comes home from school angry, itchy, tired, or sick.

3. Your child uses more asthma medication during the school day.

4. Your child comes home with odd odors on his or her clothing.

Here are some tips to follow if you are a school administrator or custodian:

Reduce Grime and Dirt

1. Wet mop instead of using a dry broom. This reduces dust.

2. Ban carpets and rugs, use only hard surfaces for flooring and walls.

3. Ban the use of cleaning chemicals brought from home.

4. Keep garbage cans away from fresh air intakes.

5. Place “walk-off” mats at each entrance to decrease dirt from shoes.

Purchase Safer Cleaning Products

1. Make sure your cleaning products have been green by independent third parties. Many companies make invalid claims about the safety of their products.

2. Choose products with the lowest possible hazard rating on their Material Safety Data Sheet.

3. Avoid products with fragrances, odors, and dyes, as they can be irritating.

If you are a school administrator who is looking for ways to make your building safer, there are many resources for you.

Visit:

Green Seal at www.greenseal.org.

Environmental Choice Program at www.environmentalchoice.org for green rated products.

The maintenance professionals at Landrum’s Services provides solutions to schools in Indiana, and we are available to answer any of your questions. Call us at 317.228.0780 or email us at admin@landrumscleaning.com.

Cleaning Tip for July 2011

Why Clean Windows are Important

There are a few obvious reasons for maintaining clean windows- a better view, professional image, and improved heat efficiency come to mind. What most people don’t know is that due to the porous nature of glass, it can easily become degraded due to pollutants. And windows, especially commercial ones, do not come cheaply.

Over time, glass can be corrupted with a number of contaminants such as oxidation, sea spray, hard water from sprinklers, acid rain, over spray from painting and caulking, etc. Due to the porous nature of the glass, it can be degraded quickly with even these daily contaminants. We recommend cleaning windows at least twice a year to prevent costly repairs or replacement. Talk to your maintenance professional about the tools they use to keep your windows clean, and make sure that they are not ignoring this integral piece of your building’s maintenance regimen.

Cleaning Tip for June 2011

The summer heat is here, even though the calendar is still reading “Spring.” Homes and businesses are closing up the windows in favor of the a/c unit, and air quality concerns get moved to the forefront. I offer two tips for improving the quality of the air you breathe:

1. Use green cleaners instead of chemical-based ones:

Baking soda is a great non-abrasive cleanser for sinks & counters.

Vinegar is excellent for glass and most metal surfaces.

Borax deodorizes garbage pails and disposals, and it cleans & whitens walls and floors.

MonoFoil keeps your areas sanitized for long periods of time after cleaning, with no harmful fumes.

2. Treat your filters and clean your heat pump coil:

Odors begin emanating from the a/c unit. This is called “dirty sock syndrome” by some, and it is caused by mold and mildew building up on your heat pump coil. We recommend cleaning your heat pump and treating it with MonoFoil to prevent the return of the mold and mildew. You will also want to treat your filters with MonoFoil, as dust and allergens get to be a big problem during the summer months.

Landrum’s Services believes that your building can be spotless and smell great without the use of harsh chemicals. Contact us with any questions you may have about our green cleaning and building maintenance services:

Email admin@landrumscleaning.com or call us at 317-228-0780.

Benefits of a Clean Office Building

We are all busy running our businesses. It’s easy to ignore the dust bunnies, smudges, and overflowing trash cans in favor of completing a deadline. Keep in mind, however, that it is a good business practice to maintain a clean office. Here are two measurable benefits of keeping a clean workplace:

1. An office is more productive when it is clean. Employee morale is higher, and they have more pride in their workplace. They can also focus better and accomplish tasks more efficiently when their area is clean. Office cleanliness is a signal of work expectations, with dirty offices breeding chaotic work practices.

2. Your customers judge you on what they see. When your customers see a clean, tidy work environment, they have more confidence in your work standards, organizational skills, and even your brand.

Setting the Priorities

You have to start somewhere when instituting a cleaning regimen. The four most important areas to focus on are:

1. Restrooms: While the restroom accounts in size for only about 5% of most buildings, it is the source of 95% of all building cleanliness complaints. Keep your restrooms clean for your customers, employees, and yourself. (See our last blog post for an in-depth discussion on the virtues of clean restrooms.)

2. Lobby/Reception Area: First impressions are powerful. Keep your windows clean, plants & counters dusted, and polish and vacuum frequently in this area. While this can be especially challenging in the hot, dusty months of summer, keep in mind that the foyer is the first area most of your customers will see. To ensure cleanliness in this area, make sure your cleaning company expresses an understanding of how critical it is to keep your entrance looking great at all times. Ask them questions about their process and standards for your foyer to make sure they have a plan for keeping your entrance crisp and providing a great first impression at all times.

3. Office & Desk Area: At minimum waste baskets should be emptied and the vacuum run on a daily basis. Encourage your employees to stay organized and keep clutter minimized.

4. Lunch/Dining Area: Often used, yet seldom cleaned, the employee eating area can quickly become a hotbed of germs and filth. This is a critical area to have a cleaning policy in place, for both your staff and your customers. Keeping it clean encourages the staff to respect the area, and it improves morale. (Heaven forbid a customer loses his way and ends up in a questionable lunch room.)

If you are struggling to keep up with your cleaning solutions and are ready for a courteous, professional cleaning team, contact us at admin@landrumscleaning.com. We would love to hear from you and get you on the road to getting a great first impression every time a customer walks through your doors.