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Floor Articles

Floor Stripper and Floor Finish Basics

by Steve Hanson

If you'd like to offer floor care services for resilient tile in your cleaning business, you need to know some of the terminology in order to understand how the chemicals work. Following are some of the characteristics for floor strippers and finishes, as well as definitions of some of the terminology you need to know.

Characteristics of Floor Strippers:

* The purpose of floor stripping chemicals is to dissolve the existing floor finish, so it can be removed without harming the flooring.

* Floor strippers have a high pH, usually between 10 to 14. High pH chemicals are on the alkaline side of the pH scale.

* Most floor strippers contain high levels of VOC's (anywhere from 10% to 30%), which can be harmful to the environment. There are now "greener" alternative floor strippers, which contain lower levels of VOC's (as little as 6%), if you'd like to offer green floor care services.

* Strippers are created to work with a floor cleaning system, so you want to use a stripper that is designed to work with a particular floor finish.

Characteristics of Floor Finishes:

* Floor finish is a liquid applied to a clean floor in thin layers, in order to protect it from damage and daily use. Floor finishes are used on floors that are not harmed by water, such as VCT (vinyl composition tile).

* Floor finish is primarily made up of polymers, waxes, solvents, plasticizers, and surfactants.

* Floor finishes are created to work with a floor cleaning system, so you want to use a floor finish that is designed to work with a particular line of daily cleaners, burnishing chemicals, and floor strippers.


* pH Scale - Determines the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. The scale ranges from 0 to 14. At the 0 to 6 end of the scale is where solutions are acidic. At the 8 to 14 end of the scale is where solutions are alkaline. Pure water has a pH of 7, which is neutral.

* VOC (volatile organic compound) - Organic chemicals that produce vapors that can be harmful to the environment.

* Solids - What is left on the floor surface after the floor finish cures. Usually expressed as a percentage of weight. The higher the percentage, the more coating that is left on the floor after it dries. However, keep in mind that a higher solid content does not necessarily mean the finish has better durability or gloss.

* Polymer - Synthetic compounds of usually high molecular weight. The solids content of the floor finish usually contains 50% polymer - this is what forms the film on the floor, and is what gives the finish its durability and shine.

* Wax Emulsions - Wax consists of anywhere from 5 - 20% of the floor finish, and is what enables the floor to be "buffed". Synthetic waxes have now replaced natural waxes because of their slip resistance, black mark resistance, and durability.

* Plasticizers - Substances added to floor finish to keep it soft and pliable. Plasticizers allow the chemicals to work together to form a film without flaws and imperfections. They also help the finish to be impact resistant.

* Surfactants - Used to increase the contact of two or more materials, sometimes known as wettability. This allows the floor finish to be spread more easily onto the floor.

Visit your local janitorial supply house for more information on the product lines they carry. Again, do not use a stripper from one product line and a finish from another line, etc. Floor care products are designed to work together as a floor care system. There are many lines to choose from so ask lots of questions of your supplier before choosing a line to use.

Steve Hanson is co-founding member of The Janitorial Store (TM), an online community that offers weekly tips, articles, downloads, discussion forums, and more for anyone who would like to learn how to start a cleaning business. Visit The Janitorial Store's blog and get inspired by reading cleaning success stories from owners of cleaning companies.

Copyright (c) 2007 The Janitorial Store

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How to Clean Grout in Floors

by Steve Hanson

Restroom cleanliness is one of the most common complaints cleaning companies receive. When cleaning restrooms, keep in mind that they should not only look clean, but that they should feel and smell clean. An important part in maintaining a high level of cleanliness is making sure the floor grout is clean. Grout is porous, so over time, moisture, contaminants, and even dirty mop water can discolor it. These circumstances can lead to staining, odors, and aid in the growth of bacteria, mold, and mildew.

There are several reasons is it so difficult to clean floor grout:

* Using a cleaner that doesn't float contaminates to the surface.

* Using a cleaner that contains detergents that settle into the grout with dirt and oils.

* Sealers may have been improperly used in the past. Instead of keeping out dirt and oils, these may now be trapped in the grout.

* Acidic or high pH cleaners make grout more porous and fragile with the result being the grout re-soils faster.

* Cleaners used in the past may have left residues that become dirt magnets.

Before starting to clean tile and grout it is important to analyze what dirt and contaminants you're dealing with. Then based on that information, select a cleaner designed for cleaning that type of soil and is suitable for the flooring being cleaned.

Using the right cleaner and using it correctly are important steps to keeping grout clean. To avoid soap scum, daily cleaners must be salt free. When deep cleaning, the cleaner needs to be free of high levels of potassium and sodium salts. The cleaner you use must be able to float contamination up as well as transfer it to the mop so the grout comes clean. Carefully consider the pH of the product you are using. Acidic based cleaners (low pH) bleach rather than clean and basic cleaners (high pH) tend to be high in salts. Be cautious about the use of citrus products. Many of these products leave unwanted residues that make floors feel sticky. It is important to use the right chemical as bacteria can get trapped into grout and tile. It may be necessary to use a germicide cleaner, especially around toilets and urinals, to kill bacteria and remove any urine that has dried into the grout or tile.

Cleaning grout is often labor-intensive at times even requiring scrubbing by hand, which may not be practical in a large restroom. There are procedures you can follow to help keep grout clean. First, use a chemical proportioning system to dilute chemicals accurately. When you use too much chemical, sealants break down faster. Second, have adequate ventilation to help prevent the build up of odors and speed up drying. Frequent changing of mop water and mop heads helps to make sure that contaminants are picked up and not pushed back into the grout. Consider switching to microfiber mops as they have proven to be the most effective at removing contaminants from floor surfaces.

When cleaning, liberally apply chemicals and don't allow the floor to dry before scrubbing. Always allow proper dwell time, which is typically between 5 and 10 minutes. The next step is to use the right tool to scrub the floor surface. To effectively clean the surfaces use floor brushes. After thoroughly scrubbing the floor, remove the excess liquid. A wet vacuum works well as it will pick up the excess water, dirt, residue and cleaning chemical used on the floor.

New and innovative equipment can also make cleaning grout faster. High-pressure water systems (up to 1200 psi) can effectively deep clean, loosen, and remove soil. Some systems also heat the water, which aids in the cleaning process. Grout cleaning systems also have auto-feed/auto-dump capabilities so you can use them continuously without stopping. The machines pick up loosened soil and leave no residue. Another option is using cylindrical brush technology. These machines do not use pads like rotary buffers, but instead use rotating brushes. These brushes penetrate and loosen the dirt in grout and tile.

To keep grout and tile looking their best it is important to train your staff and make sure they continue to follow the proper procedures when cleaning grout. Having written procedures and checklists can help to assure the proper cleaning techniques are always followed.

Lack of attention, carelessness, and the wrong types of cleaners used will lead to dirty grout and the entire floor looking dull and dingy. Paying attention and spending a little extra time when cleaning grout will keep not only the floor, but the entire restroom, looking and smelling clean.

Copyright (c) 2006 The Janitorial Store

Steve Hanson is co-founding member of The Janitorial Store (TM), an online community that offers weekly tips, articles, downloads, discussion forums, and more for anyone who would like to learn how to start a cleaning business. Visit The Janitorial Store's blog and get inspired by reading cleaning success stories from owners of cleaning companies.

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Tips for Removing Gum From Carpet

by Steve Hanson

If your cleaning company is responsible for carpet spotting or overall carpet cleaning, you are eventually going to run across gum that is smashed into the carpet fibers. You may be cleaning up just a piece or two or if you are cleaning the carpet in a school or bowling alley, you may be removing gum every few feet. So is there a fast, easy way to remove these rubbery pieces of goo?

Begin by using a bone scraper and gently, but firmly scrape up as much of the gum as possible. This may remove the bulk of the gum, but don't forget you still need to remove any sticky residue that remains. For any pieces remaining, use a product such as Unbelievable Goo D-solv-r Pro (from Core Products).

Spray the chemical on a white blotting cloth and then blot the gum - do not spray it directly on the gum or the carpet. Once you have removed the gum rinse thoroughly with hot water. This will remove any of the chemical that is left on the carpet and help to prevent it from resoiling. Some people have found that after using the bone scraper they can use a volatile dry solvent and hot water in their extraction machine to remove any remaining pieces of gum. The heat helps to soften the gum and remove any remaining residues. Or you can use a citrus gel, which is a non-volatile dry solvent. Just remember that you'll need to rinse the citrus gel to remove any residue. No matter which process you decide to use, do not apply too much chemical.

Another way to remove gum is to "freeze" it. Fill a plastic bag with ice and rub it over the gum. Then chip away the frozen pieces with your bone scraper. After removing the pieces of gum you will still need to use your extractor to remove any remaining residue. There are also aerosol sprays on the market that will "freeze" the gum. Use these products with caution, as they can damage the carpet fibers. The process you use will naturally depend on how much gum you need to remove. If the area is heavily caked with gum it may be easier to use a bone scraper and then a good solvent with an extraction machine as opposed to the time it would take to either "freeze" or clean each spot with D-solv-r Pro.

As you are cleaning up the gooey mess from gum, remember to do a thorough job and remove as much of the residue as possible or the carpet will resoil quickly and you may be called back by an unhappy customer who notices the carpet looks dirty!

Steve Hanson is co-founding member of The Janitorial Store (TM), an online community that offers weekly tips, articles, downloads, discussion forums, and more for anyone who would like to learn how to start a cleaning business. Visit The Janitorial Store's blog and get inspired by reading cleaning success stories from owners of cleaning companies.

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Back to Basics Floor Care

by Steve Hanson

Stand out among all the cleaning companies in your area by ensuring the floors in your buildings shine! Floors that receive good service regularly will have a sparkling shine. This shine will be a positive reflection on your company and employees.

On the other hand, poor quality floor care stands out in many ways. Floors not properly cared for can become discolored in corners, along the edges, and under furniture. On VCT flooring, this is often a sign of wax build-up or improper stripping procedures. Scuffed or dirty floors are a strong signal that floor maintenance occurs infrequently or is not thorough, and overall gives the impression that your employees do not care about their work. Also, keep in mind that dirty floors can quickly become slippery, which can lead to serious falls and accidents.

Basic floor care includes sweeping, dust mopping and wet mopping. Dust mop and sweep before performing any other floor care procedures. When sweeping, it is important to sweep edges, corners and hard to reach areas. Make sure to get under shelving and move light objects to sweep under them. Dust mopping will remove roughly 90% of the soil and debris found on most hard and resilient floor surfaces.

After sweeping and before you begin mopping make sure to put out wet floor signs. When you get ready to wet mop, prepare your cleaning solution by using four gallons of cool water and a neutral cleaner. Begin your mopping by cleaning the corners and edges being careful not get cleaning solution on baseboards or nearby furniture. After mopping the corners and edges, fill in the open area using a figure eight pattern. Change the mop water whenever it becomes dirty. After mopping, clean and store the equipment properly so it will be ready for the next use.

If you are using a microfiber mop instead of a traditional loop mop head, mix your solution in your pail and then immerse the microfiber pads into your solution. Wring out and roll up your mop pads. Then store the mop pads in a bucket or container until you are ready to use them. Once the pads become soiled, remove them and put them into a container for laundering.

Pay careful attention to small details when cleaning floors:

Employees should tell their supervisor of any problems such as loose tiles. Also report when the floor needs scrubbed or recoated.

Keeping floors clean and shiny will have positive impact on your company and your employees. Help your company stand out among others by giving the floors in the buildings you clean proper care.

Steve Hanson is co-founding member of The Janitorial Store (TM), an online community for owners and managers of cleaning companies who want to build a more profitable and successful cleaning business. Sign up for Trash Talk: Tip of the Week at and receive a Free Gift!

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This page created: 07/13/09
Last Update: 9/13/09