Clean Windows Can Improve Moods

clean windows

“My favourite journey is looking out the window.”

-Edward Gorey

A home is usually the biggest investment most people will ever make. And according to real estate agents, one of the biggest factors in choosing a property is the quality of natural light in the home. So let the sunshine in — through clean windows!

And for businesses, light is just as important. Because windows are one of the first things a client notices, dirty windows create an unfavourable impression which can actually negatively affect sales.  Clean windows make for a pleasant and professional environment for guests, clients and staff.

Clearly it’s the view

We often take windows for granted. We get up every day and look outside. Clean windows cheer us up as we look out onto the world; dirty windows do just the opposite and can contribute to a glum mood. It’s a subtle thing but looking through sparkling windows means you’ll feel more chipper as soon as you start the day, and with warmer weather approaching the view will only get better.

Why it’s important

Besides improving one’s mood, did you know that clean windows actually prolong the life of the glass?

Windows can really take a beating. They’re exposed to harsh weather conditions, acid rain and hard minerals. They collect dirt and grime, which can make them weaker and lose their transparency over time. And that not only makes them harder to clean but can eventually ruin them altogether.

Regular cleaning makes it easier to remove stubborn stains and extend the life of the windows — making it easier on your pocketbook in the long run.

Simple window cleaning tips

So what can you do to make the windows at home or at work look better and last longer? Here are a few simple tips for easy window cleaning:

  • Tackle the job on a dry and cloudy day. Cleaning windows in the blazing sun will quickly dry the cleaning solution on hot windows before you can wipe it off, making it difficult to remove streaks. If it has to be done on a sunny day, start on the shady side of the house.
  • Always sweep the dirt off of the frames and sills before you begin washing the windows. This will prevent a muddy mess from forming after the window cleaner is applied.
  • Apply the cleaning solution liberally. If you hold back and don’t apply enough cleaner to allow the dirt and grime to dissolve, you’ll always end up with streaks. You can use commercial glass cleaners (eco-friendly, please) or you can easily make your own.
  • Use a microfiber cloth. Paper towels, rags or even newspapers do dry windows, but nothing works as well as microfiber cloths. They’re super absorbent and guarantee a streak-free and shiny window. Plus, they’re re-usable.
  • Pro tip: When wiping the windows, wipe horizontally on one side of the glass and vertically on the other side. That way, if there are any streaks, you can quickly tell which side they’re on.

Whether it’s a home or a business, clean windows project a brighter, more positive atmosphere and can even improve your mood, productivity and sales!

At Allcare, we care about clean. Get in touch for your free, no-obligation quote.

Floor Maintenance: The Shining (or not)

floor maintenance

We walk all over them, we run on them, we scratch them and track dirt all over them, yet the only time we notice them is when they’re dirty, worn or uneven. We’re talking about floors, of course — and floor maintenance.

Shiny or matte?

Most people think that shiny floors are a sign of good housekeeping. They might be a bit slippery but at least they’re clean, right? As opposed to matte floors, which might not be as attractive to some, but offer better traction.

Shiny floors do tend to be the preference for most North American business owners because the belief is that if it’s shiny, it’s clean — and cleaning contractors deliver what the customer wants.

But according to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), European businesses prefer matte flooring. So it’s less about the look of the floor and more about safety. In fact, Europeans think that shiny floors are sort of odd.

So, which floor finish is better?

Clean vs. shine

When it comes to floor maintenance, the notion that shiny floors are cleaner than matte ones may seem like a no-brainer. But there’s a big difference between shiny-clean and shiny-dirty. If enough elbow grease and chemicals are used, you can always make a dirty floor shine.

The most important step in maintaining a shiny floor is the cleaning that’s performed before the shining. Filthy mop buckets and dirty equipment are a couple of the main offenders in this shiny-yet-dirty equation. Floors must be thoroughly cleaned before buffing — because buffing alone merely pushes the dirt around and can actually damage the flooring.

There’s no connection between cleanliness and shininess. And, of course, matte floors need to be cleaned just as thoroughly as shiny floors.

Endurance and shine

The greatest threat to floor maintenance is plain, old dirt. Once grit and grime is ground in to the surface of a floor the only way to bring it back is to completely strip and refinish it, which can be time-consuming and expensive. A consistent, thorough cleaning regimen is the best way to keep costs down and prolong the life of any flooring surface.

Shiny floors do marginally improve the durability and lifespan of a floor, depending on the various polishing sealants and finishes used. But the best way to prolong floor life, regardless of finish, is regular cleaning.

What about safety?

Whether dull or glossy, a clean floor is a safer floor because a clean surface improves contact between the floor and the soles of our shoes.

But even if a shiny floor is clean, it can be harder to see moisture on a shiny floor. Indeed, that beautiful shine can act like camouflage, leading to inadvertent slips and falls.

Floor safety can now be measured by using something called a tribometer. Developed by the NFSI, the Universal Walkway Tester (UWT) is a nifty piece of equipment that can determine how slippery a floor is. The UWT supplies cleaning contractors and their customers with measurable data in regards to floor safety. If a floor is found to be unsafe there are methods and various finishes that can be used to improve safety.

The Verdict

So, at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter what kind of finish a floor has, shiny or matte — it really just has to be clean.

For the low-down on floor maintenance and cleaning options for your plant or office space, feel free to contact us.

At Allcare, we care about clean.

 

The Invisible Army: why it may be time to re-think your cleaning staff

cleaning staff

 

When they do it nobody notices, and when they don’t, everyone does. But just who are “they” and what do they do?

Your cleaning staff is the invisible army that sweeps in and cleans your workplace when you’re not there so the following day can begin smoothly and efficiently. Just imagine if there were no cleaners. What would your plant or office look, smell and feel like?

These nighttime ninjas are dedicated employees who take pride in their work, often for many years at the same location, unknown and unrecognized by the 9-to-5 inhabitants of the places they clean.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T  (just a little bit)

Not only are cleaners generally invisible to staff because they work at night, many staff members don’t even give them a second thought. But keeping your cleaning staff in mind isn’t just nice, it actually creates efficiency so you can get more for your janitorial buck.

Consider for a moment: when an employee leaves a messy work space, it’s sort of like your teen leaving their dirty laundry all over the place and expecting you to pick it up before you get down to the vacuuming and dusting. Frustrating, right?

Leaving a neat desk or work space at the end of the day helps your cleaners be more effective by allowing them to spend more time on the deep-cleaning jobs that keep your office super-spiffy, fresh-smelling and germ-free.

Over and above

In addition to their regular duties, your cleaners do a lot of things that aren’t technically in their job description.

They’re a Lost and Found department for stray wallets, jewellery and smartphones. They monitor the coffee machine that everyone forgets to turn off. They lock the doors, set the alarm system, and switch off lights when the last employee leaves the building. Your cleaners also alert office and plant managers to after-hour emergencies like flooding, electrical problems and other facility issues.

And because cleaning staff mainly work at night, they’re like de facto security guards for many companies.

Allcare founder Chris Kandelas illustrates the point: “We had a cleaner at a building that was working after hours and there was a female staff member working late. She was the only one in the building besides the cleaning crew. The cleaner took it upon himself to keep an eye on her while she got safely to her car in the dark parking lot. As the customer later said, ‘That was over and above what they’re here to do.'”

Your cleaning staff is part of the team

Human nature being what it is, cleaning staff are sometimes blamed when things go missing or something is broken. It’s easy to point the finger at someone from outside the company rather than take the time to find a plausible explanation. But remember: just like you and your co-workers, your cleaners never want to jeopardize their jobs by doing something unethical.

We really are a part of your team — whether you see us or not.

—–

“We care about clean” is Allcare’s motto. It reflects our philosophy and provides the direction for everything we do. Whether it’s our approach to cleaning or the way our clients and employees are treated, it’s all about caring.

And so far, it’s been a successful approach. Naturally.

Get in touch today for your no-obligation quote.

 

Keep a lid on it: Why you need to pay attention to roof maintenance

roof maintenance

Sometimes it feels like there’s an endless to-do list when maintaining a building or a house. Some of the upkeep can be put off until later. But roof maintenance is one of the tasks that needs to be top priority — especially with our Canadian climate.

Heavy snowfalls, spring thaws and rain, scorching summer heat and leaf-clogged eaves troughs in autumn can wreak havoc on any roof if you’re not paying attention.

So, what’s the big deal?

Your roof may be out of sight but keep it top of mind when thinking about risk management. What may not seem like a big deal can rapidly escalate into a major headache and cause significant business disruption, as well as health issues for your staff and customers.

Don’t wait until you see water dripping inside your facility. You can avoid costly repair bills by taking a pro-active approach toward your building’s exterior surfaces.

What to look for

First off, let’s talk about puddles – fun for kids to splash in, but a warning sign on a flat commercial rooftop. An adequate drainage system to eliminate puddles after a storm or winter thaw is crucial. While some puddling may occur naturally, any pooling that persists for more than a few days is a potential problem.

Each square foot of puddling adds about 5 lbs. of weight per square inch. Also watch for damaged flashing that seals the roof where angles meet and along the seams.

On pitched roofs, the water won’t puddle but extreme weather events can damage the shingles, eaves troughs and flashing which will compromise your building’s “exterior envelope”.

Health issues from mold and mildew

Mold and mildew caused by water damage from roof leaks can create serious health issues for your staff and customers. Many people are sensitive to mold, which can cause throat irritation, stuffiness, difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing and eye irritation. Those with asthma or compromised immune systems are particularly vulnerable to mold exposure.

Once mold has contaminated a facility, extreme care must be taken to clean it and prevent further growth.

Roof maintenance – check regularly and act quickly

As part of your building’s maintenance routine, be sure to have a roof maintenance professional inspect the roof at least twice a year, particularly in the spring and fall.

In the spring, identify any damage that may have occurred during the winter from snow and ice. Be sure to have the repairs done immediately before heavy spring rains cause more deterioration.

Inspect the roof in the fall to make sure it’s in good condition to handle the harsh winter months.

Tip Sheet
  • keep gutters and drains clear of debris
  • trim back overhanging branches
  • keep the roof clear of snow (if possible)
  • schedule regular roof inspections, especially after severe weather events
  • inspect the perimeter, especially the flashing
  • check for loose shingles – or on a flat roof, cracks in the membrane
  • observe the seals around pipes and other roof openings
  • repair any roof damage as soon as possible

Making small repairs to prevent roof leaks is one of the best ways to extend the life of your roof and protect your facility’s interior.  A financial investment now will save a lot of money later on and will ensure that the building — and the people inside it — stay safe and sound.

Get in touch

We care about clean — and about your health and safety.

Hey, kids, let’s science! The Magic of Microfiber

nylon molecule
(Photo: Michael Ströck/Wikipedia)
Microfiber packs a big punch

Fun fact: the average person spends about 20 hours per month on household cleaning.

But there are tools to make the job easier and science has given us so many labour-saving inventions, it’s easy to take them for granted. (Just think about how laundry used to be done!)

Microfiber cloths are so eco-friendly, effective and efficient they’re a must-have for any green cleaning kit. But how do they do what they do? Read on for the lowdown on this “magical” fabric.

She blinded me with science

The story of microfibers goes all the way back to 19th century Holland, when Johannes Diderik van der Waals laid the foundation for modern molecular physics. Building on that knowledge, chemical engineers of the 1950s and ’60s began experimenting with ultra-fine filaments for industrial applications.

By the 1970s, Ultrasuede hit the market and expanded the possibilities for new applications of the material. Not only was the ersatz suede used for making groovy pantsuits but also for interior, automotive and aircraft design applications.

But it wasn’t until the ’90s, when Swedish materials scientists began to develop the technology further, that microfiber cloths revolutionized green cleaning in both industrial and household applications. Today, microfiber cloths are widely used in Europe where environmental awareness is greater, but the technology is still catching on in North America.

So, what’s so big about tiny?

Microfiber is a synthetic combination of polyamides (aka nylon) and polyester. This substance is used to create super-fine strands with a diameter about 10 to 50 times thinner than a human hair. The strands are then split even further creating tiny fibers which are about the size of the average bacteria. Germs, begone!

microfiber versus cotton
Microfiber versus cotton

Thanks to this micro splitting process the surface area of microfiber is roughly 15 times greater than that of cotton fabrics, allowing it to trap more dust, dirt and bacteria in its million tiny edges. More surface area equals more efficiency — you get big results from those teensy fibers.

Another benefit of microfiber cloths is that they won’t scratch or mar even the most delicate surfaces because they attract debris instead of pushing it around. That’s why microfiber cloths are used for lens cleaning and other precision applications.

Remember that 19th century Dutchman van der Waals? He was the first scientist to describe the properties of molecular attraction. The “van der Waals forces” inherent in the plastic microfibers are what give these mighty cloths their ability to attract grime and germs, hence the nickname “dirt magnets.”

But is it green technology?

You bet it is. Microfiber technology virtually eliminates the need for paper towels and toxic cleaning chemicals.

Using these cloths will even reduce your water usage. A microfiber mop weighs far less than a traditional string mop and uses about half the water to get the job done.

Added bonus: microfibers are lint-free, making them ideal for glass and other shiny-surface cleaning. No more harsh window cleaners, which can be damaging to your lungs with repeated use.

Show me the money

Microfiber cleaning products can tolerate between 100-200 washings. That’s a long life for a cleaning product. So, you’re not only getting a more thorough, more environmentally-friendly result, but you’re also reducing your budget. Gotta love science.

At Allcare, microfiber cloths are just one of the products we use to make your facility shiny and germ-free. Get in touch today for more information on our Green Housekeeping practices.

We care about clean.

Don’t be S.A.D.: How to beat the Winter Blues with some simple hacks

Yes, the Winter Blues are an actual thing

It used to be called simply the “winter blues” but in 1984 mental health researchers first described Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and made the link between reduced sunlight exposure and mood disruptions. If you find you’re feeling depressed starting in late fall and throughout the winter, you may just be SAD. Symptoms include difficulty with concentration, decreased libido, anxiety, lethargy and even carbohydrate cravings. So, savour those yummy Christmas cookies but be mindful: weight gain is another SAD symptom.

There’s plenty you can do to beat Seasonal Affective Disorder

The good news is that there are a few easy lifestyle tweaks that can help ease the symptoms of this seasonal syndrome.

The first order of business is to make sure you optimize your vitamin D levels. A simple blood test will let you know whether or not you’re deficient. If you are – and those of us living in cold, northern climes are prone to deficiency, especially during winter – you can supplement with vitamin D3 to raise your levels to the optimal range.

An added benefit of ensuring you have enough of the so-called “sunshine vitamin” is that recent studies indicate, in addition to the known benefits of helping maintain healthy teeth and bones, D may have a protective effect against cold and flu viruses, as well as some cancers.

The sunshine prescription

Of course, nothing brightens the mood like sunshine itself. Take time for yourself to go for a brisk walk when the sun is shining, preferably around noon when you’ll get the most benefit from the sun’s rays.

If you can manage to get away to a tropical place in winter, you’ll store up enough vitamin D to help get you through to spring. It’s estimated that just 30 minutes of full body sun exposure around mid-day generates about 10,000-20,000 IUs of vitamin D.

Staying active — a little bit of exercise for 30 minutes at least 3 times a week — can lift your mood and relieve anxiety and stress. And be sure to get enough sleep, but not too much — it’s easy to hide under the covers when you’re depressed.

Whether you work from home, in an office or an industrial environment, in addition to helping alleviate the winter blues, proper lighting makes work easier and more efficient.

Poor lighting conditions, such as low, glaring or shadow-casting light can cause headaches and eye fatigue, which can lead to more serious consequences like workplace accidents. Proper lighting reduces stress and increases productivity by allowing you to concentrate better on the task at hand.

Chase away the Winter Blues with a light box

Light therapy, in the form of a full-spectrum light box, has been used for decades to effectively combat seasonal affective disorder. SAD sufferers use the specially-calibrated table-top light in the morning for just 30 minutes a day. It’s simple and easy – just turn it on while you’re catching up on the news or scrolling through your social media feeds.

So, if you’re feeling SAD, no need to suffer in the dark. The best way to beat the winter blues, to work more efficiently and to have a healthier, happier life is to live in the light.

We care about clean — and your health

Get in touch with us today for your no-obligation Healthy Space assessment.

Is Washing Your Hands Really Necessary?

hand-washing

When you were a kid you were taught to wash your hands — before every meal, after using the bathroom and after coming in from outside. But now you’re an adult and you know all about hand-washing. And if you don’t wash them occasionally, it’s not the end of the world, right?

In 2015, Initial Washroom Hygiene conducted a massive survey of 100,000 people about their hand-washing habits. According to the survey, a staggering 62% of men and 40% of women didn’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. So, is this just another harmless oversight or does it have real health consequences?

The average person has about 1,500 bacteria per square centimetre on their hands, so good hand hygiene is crucial in reducing the spread of germs and controlling disease. Germs, such as bacteria and viruses are invisible and everywhere. They’re on everything you touch, cellphones, hand rails, shopping carts, even your toothbrush. Germs can spread rapidly after handling raw meat, by using the toilet or by coughing and sneezing.

As mentioned above, you should be washing your hands throughout the course of your day, but let’s get real and talk about the bathroom. Bathrooms are where bacteria really like to hang out and plot their next attack.

Properly washing your hands, especially after using the bathroom, prevents the spread of germs and keeps you and the environment around you clean. Proper hand-washing reduces the risk of getting diarrhea by about one-third and reduces the risk of contracting respiratory illness by up to 20%.

So, what’s the right way to wash your hands? Follow the five steps below to wash your hands the right way every time.

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air-dry them.

This video can also help you learn how to wash your hands the right way.

We care about clean – hands.

Get in touch. We’d love to help you banish the bacteria in your organization.

Preventing the Growth of Moulds in the Workplace

The public has increasingly become aware of the health effects and symptoms of exposure to mould. For instance, it’s not uncommon to hear about schools closing when mould growth is discovered. Mountainview Elementary School in Howie Centre, Nova Scotia was the latest to close.

An indoor mould growth
Indoor mould can impact the health of a building and those who live or work in the space.

Mould is a serious issue that needs to be addressed to prevent human exposure and further damage to building materials and furnishings. Every Allcare cleaner pays close attention to moulds, making sure to check janitor rooms, window sills, washrooms, and elsewhere for the first signs of mould growth.

In this post, we’ll explain how mould develops and what your workplace can do to eliminate a mould problem.

What do Moulds Need to Grow?

Moulds need moisture and nutrients to grow, so keeping a dry and clean environment is an essential step to prevent them from growing.

It’s also important to note that different kinds of moulds grow on different materials. Certain kinds of moulds like an extremely wet environment. Other kinds of moulds may be growing even if no water can be seen. Even dampness can give certain kinds of moulds enough moisture to grow.

Sources of Moisture

Moisture can enter the workplace in various ways. It could be from leaks in the floor, walls, or roof, or through plumbing leaks, poor drainage and window condensation.

Dampness and moisture can also build up in a workplace throughout the day from activities like washing or cooking. Moisture also accumulates when there is not enough ventilation to expel that moisture.

In your workplace, you should constantly be aware of musty odours, condensation, and discoloration, which are signs of moisture problems, water damage, and mould growth. And take action once you suspect a mould problem is developing.

Removing Mould

When dealing with mould, you should always limit your exposure by wearing a dust mask and rubber gloves.

Small areas of mould can be cleaned by scrubbing the area with detergent, then sponge with a clean, wet rag and dry quickly and thoroughly. Large areas of mould should be cleaned by professionals.

Simply killing mould with is typically not enough since people can react to particles present even in dead mould. Removing mould entirely is usually necessary.

Extra attention should be paid to porous materials like wood that moulds can infiltrate from the inside out, and grow on or in. These materials that are wet and have mould growing in them usually have to be removed and replaced.

And remember…

Unless the root cause of the moisture and water accumulation is corrected, mould will continue to come back time and again.

Places We Clean: The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s “Restoration Services Centre”

Allcare cares about clean, and we’re happy to say that we keep clean Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s “Restoration Services Centre”, the first green building in Ontario to earn the industry’s top designation for eco-friendly design.

The two-story building, which houses office space for 50 occupants and a works garage, was awarded Platinum ranking in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (or LEED) program administered by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) in 2008.

The LEED certification basically assesses the energy efficiency and environmental impact of buildings, and assigns a rating based on the number of credits they get for these practices. For instance, the Restoration Services Centre attained all 10 LEED energy credits, having won points for having solar panels that provide the facility with a portion of its electricity.

It also employs water conservation through the use of ultra low-flow plumbing fixtures and other techniques that helps it consume 95 per cent less indoor water than a typical building of this size. Their composting toilets and waterless urinals seem right at home in the office, thereby contributing to this significant reduction in use of potable water for sanitary purposes.

This, of course, is only part of the story. The Restoration Services Centre strives to maintain its eco-friendliness and sustainability through a sustained commitment to green practices. In turn, they chose Allcare Maintenance Services to provide green cleaning services, and ensure that the thoughtfully constructed indoor environment does not become tainted by harmful chemicals.

Lorne Mlotek, a green building consultant for LeadingLEED, said in an email message that there’s no specific LEED credit that awards points for green cleaning, but it’s consistently given an Innovation in Design point as a means of on-going cleaning. “In fact,” writes Mlotek, “the CaGBC actually use ‘Green Cleaning’ as an example of how to achieve an  innovation in Design point because it is out of the scope of the LEED rating system, but still attributes to a sustainable building.”

Allcare cares about clean, and so do our clients. In its “Restoration Services Centre”, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority  is one such organization that has made a commitment to environmental sustainability and responsibility, and we’re happy that others see a value in that commitment.