Category: Building Cleaning

Air Duct Systems and their Critical Impact on your Health

 

The old adage. “Out of sight, out of mind.” Could not ring more true when it comes to certain areas of our homes. In particular, I want to turn your attention to one system in every home and business in the United States that most of us over look, however, is a key component which impacts the well-being and safety of all residential or business occupants: The Air Duct System or also known as, your HVAC System.

Air duct systems and their critical impact on your health are easy to over look! The only real reminders that they are even part of our homes or business’ are the thermostat.  The entirety of the system is general conveniently hidden behind our walls, floors, and attics. Most homeowners seldom bother to investigate whether their system is performing in the manner it was intended to and much less so whether it is due for a professional cleaning.

This negligence can cost homeowners and business owners; thousands of dollars in costly repairs or worse, replacement of the entire system itself. So far we have only addressed the fact that we barely think about the crucial role the air duct system and which plays in our lives every single day. On average, most homes can contain approximately 70X times more polluted indoor air when compared to the air quality out doors! How? The answer is quite simple. Most air duct systems are cleaned far too infrequently, what is more concerning is that we find that many homes have never had the system cleaned, ever!

Let us take a moment to consider everything that ends up in the air duct system. When a home is built, a significant amount of building materials such as, wood splinters, drywall dust, saw dust, concrete crumbs, carpeting fibers, and nails can be found inside the duct lines. This occurs because little to no efforts are made by most builders to ensure that the return registers are ever covered up during construction. Further more a large sum of the debris also ends up being commonly swept into the floor registers as a easy means to rid the open areas of debris.

Inevitably the system is turned on when all final finishes are installed in the home and a happy family moves in ready to enjoy their new home! The last thing on anyone’s mind is the air duct system. However, as the system runs and operates as intended, all the air within the home is constantly recirculated. In time the loose debris in the system is expelled into the open living quarters and then recycled back into the system.

Homeowners often make a valiant effort to change their filters frequently and do what they think is supposed to be done. However, often times what homeowners fail to realize is that the system is impacted throughout and that merely changing filters cannot ever properly filter out all the debris contained in their systems. Fast forward 5, 10, 30 years into the future: the same home now has had one or more families enjoying its comforts and amenities over time with little mind being paid to the air duct system.  At this point the system is heavily loaded with normal dust, debris, pet hair, allergens, out door pollutants, and a myriad of accumulating years of dirt and remodeling debris build up (lets not forget all that original construction debris)!

We often times forget to address this issue because the system is no something that is in need of our attention until something malfunctions (generally when people call to have their systems cleaned). The problem this creates has a critical impact on every occupants health and well being. Those fine dust, allergens, and pollutant particulates which are dispersed into the air every single day for years and years are also being breathed into our lungs, settle onto all soft furnishings, and everything you come in contact with in the home. The problem worsens, however, when you take into account how this can effect humans long term. The effects such indoor pollutants can have on your immune system and its ability to combat against common colds, allergens, disease, and fast spreading viruses. If your home is an incubator of pollution that you are breathing in for a minimum of 9+ hours during sleep, imagine the health impact this can have over years and years of occupying your home!

To make matters worse, all of that build up and debris within the system can affect the mechanical components and severely hinder their functions in terms of filtration when cycling the air, build up on blower motors, heating and cooling coils, and the overall efficiency and life of the system. Statistics show that the average cost to replace the furnace in an average American home of approximately 1,100 Sq. Ft is $7,000.00 ! These systems should last anywhere from 25- 40 years if maintained properly. Most seldom survive longer than 13.2 years on average. The systems generally do not fall apart all at once, however, critical component failures can lead to anything from systems running up electric costs as they work longer and harder to achieve desired temperatures all the way to flooding or possibly starting on fire! The costs of this unaccounted for affects can cost homeowners and businesses significantly over time and that is before the actual system ever actually gets replaced !!

The proper way to rectify these problems from becoming on going money sappers and major headaches and health hazards is to have your air duct system professionally cleaned. Not only does cleaning of a system in the appropriate NADCA Standardized manner dramatically improve indoor air quality resulting in a healthier environment for your family – but is also can actually save you thousands of dollars in costly repairs and secondary damages created by neglected  and over burdened systems.

A vast array of benefits have already been discussed as to why you would want to consider air duct system cleaning.  Your system’s cleanliness and overall efficiency can impact your well being, your homes well being, your monthly electric and heating bills, and the safety of your home and family.

If you are considering air duct system cleaning during these unprecedented times contact Wiz Team, Inc. for a ethical, transparent, educational, and honest consultation about the state of your air duct system.  Wiz Team, Inc. prides itself on providing the most outstanding service experience to each and every client we serve. Our focus is on maintaining our level of supreme quality above all else because at the end of the day – we want to ensure that the people in your life who are most precious to you are kept safe and healthy above all else. We stop at nothing to ensure we deliver on our promise.

Contact Wiz Team, Inc. to schedule your free in-home consultation. Our office can be reached at 847-526-6060 or via email at Info@wizclean.com.

 

Below you can find some frequently asked questions regarding Air Duct System Cleaning and its procedure:

 

  • Why do I need to have my air ducts cleaned? According to the EPA, indoor air can be up to 70 times more polluted than outdoor air. The benefits of a freshly cleaned air duct sytem include: (1) Cleaner, fresher and healthier air inside your home or office (2) Home and office furnishings will stay cleaner longer (3) Mechanical units will perform more efficiently when coils and blowers are cleaned which means energy and money savings for you.

  • Will your equipment damage my air ducts? Absolutely not. While our equipment is designed to be aggressive at removing debris from your air system, it is also gentle enough so that it does not damage your air ducts.

  • How will you clean my air ducts? There are two universally accepted methods to clean air ducts. One method is called contact cleaning, which stirs up and collects the debris at the point of contact inside the ducts. The other method is negative air cleaning or the “push-pull method”. This method of air duct cleaning involves putting the air system under negative pressure, disturbing the debris inside the ducts and collecting it in one place.

  • Is the process messy? Absolutely not. All of our vacuum equipment is HEPA-filtered to 99.97% so the dirt stays in the machine and out of your home. Our procedures are designed to protect your home and furnishings from dust/dirt and we always leave the home cleaner then when we arrived.

  • How long does it take? It typically takes 4-6 hours per air system based on the cleaning method being used (residential customers).

  • How often should my air ducts be cleaned? It is recommended to have your home’s air system cleaned every 3-5 years. For commercial customers, we recommend a thorough cleaning every 2 years.

  • Can I be at home while the work is being completed? Yes. Our HEPA-filtered machines prevent any debris in your air system from entering the home environment, so you can be home while the work is performed.

  • Are you licensed and insured? Yes.

Keeping Your Home Healthy

 

Regular cleaning is an important part of keeping your home healthy.

This includes preventing and mitigating bacteria, viruses, and other pests like moths, silverfish, and bedbugs that can do harm if left unchecked.

And regular cleaning is even more crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can live on some surfaces in your home for days.

Luckily, it’s easy to get rid of the virus material from these surfaces with some basic disinfectants and cleaning procedures.

Read on to learn about some common trouble spots around the house and solutions for keeping your living spaces safe and healthy.

How to clean a kitchen

Everyone gravitates to the kitchen.

Part restaurant, part entertainment center, and part family room, it’s ground zero for the most troublesome spots in the home. Practically every surface is a magnet for bacteria, viruses, germs, insects, and other pests.

Your kitchen can also be one of the most likely places you can transfer a virus, like SARS-CoV-2, into your household. A 2020 study found that this coronavirus can live for hours or days on many common kitchen surfaces:

  • copper: 8 hours
  • cardboard: 24 hours
  • stainless steel: 48 hours
  • plastic: 3 days

Here are some general tips for disinfecting your kitchen surfaces to prevent COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before you touch anything, especially if you’ve been outside or at work.
  • Sanitize your hands with a 60 percent (or higher) alcohol sanitizer if soap and water aren’t immediately available.
  • Regularly wipe down all kitchen surfaces, including counters, tabletops, and any other surface you frequently touch, like stove or microwave buttons. Use an EPA-approved disinfectant if available.
  • Wash all dishes and silverware before and after you use them.

Sponges and dish towels

A sponge can carry mold and thousands of germs and foodborne pathogens if it’s not cleaned or stored properly.

Things you can do to kill germs on a sponge include:

  • placing the sponge in the dishwasher with a high temperature and the drying cycle on
  • wetting it and putting it in the microwave for 1–2 minutes
  • squeezing it out well after every use and keeping it in a place that allows it to air dry

Cloth dish towels can also harbor unhealthy microorganisms, even if they’re only used for drying clean dishes. Wash them often with your machine temperature dial set to hot.

Cutting board

Never cut fruits or vegetables on the same cutting board you use to slice raw meat. Clean it with hot water and soap first.

Keeping veggies and raw meat separated will avoid cross-contamination and the possible spread of salmonella, E. coli, and other harmful bacteria.

It’s a good idea to have two cutting boards: one for raw meat and one for fruits, vegetables, and everything else.

Countertops

Keep all surfaces cleaned and sanitized after you cook.

This extra step will help eliminate food bacteria such as Campylobacter, a common cause of diarrhea. This will also discourage insects from feasting on the leftovers left on the counter.

Household pests like cockroaches can carry a number of pathogens and can also trigger asthma and allergies in some people.

You can sanitize your countertops with bleach after wiping them down with soap and water. One teaspoon of chlorine bleach per quart of water will do the trick. This extra step will help kill any lingering pathogens.

Using bleach with chlorine will also help remove any virus material related to COVID-19. Ammonia will also work. Just don’t use bleach and ammonia together, as they can combine to produce harmful chemicals.

Keep a lid on possible insect infestations by washing dishes and utensils immediately after eating, storing food in tightly sealed containers, and keeping trash in a container with a lid on it.

In the bedroom

Whether you share a bed with someone else or not, you’re never alone in bed.

Dust, dust mites, and possibly pet dander keep you company all the time. These bed bugs add to poor air quality and can irritate the best of us, whether you’re allergic or not allergic to them.

This is because dust mites produce waste and lay eggs. Add hair, dead skin, fungi, and pollen, and you get an allergen-filled combination that can pack a wallop to sensitive individuals.

Here are some tips to get rid of dust mites:

  • Use zippered plastic mattress and pillow covers.
  • Once a week, wash all bedding in hot water above 130˚F to kill dust mites.
  • Vacuum uncovered mattresses regularly.

 

In the bathroom

The bathroom is a relatively new thing. For thousands of years, people relied on outhouses and public baths, and for good reason — to keep pathogens and waste away from living quarters.

Today, we have the luxury of toilets and bathtubs, and pathogens can lurk where you wouldn’t expect them.

 

Toilet handle

The toilet may be an easy mark for potential health dangers in the bathroom, but it’s for a reason you might not expect.

Sure, you know to keep the bowl and the seat clean, but how often do you clean the flush handle? Rotavirus, enterococcus, and other nasty pests can live there.

Enterococcus can cause bacterial gastroenteritis. Rotavirus is the most common cause of diarrhea among children.

The new coronavirus can also survive on steel and plastic toilet handles for up to 3 days.

Keep the flush handle sanitized with a disinfectant that specifically lists fighting bacteria or viruses on the label. Sanitizing with a 60 percent alcohol solution can also help remove the virus particles of SARS-CoV-2.

Floor to ceiling

Mold can thrive in the bathroom and present a number of health problems, from watery, itchy eyes to asthma attacks.

Another danger lurking in your bathroom, and possibly throughout your house, is trichophyton.

This fungus causes ringworm and athlete’s foot and can be passed from one person’s foot to the next via flooring.

Here are some tips to clean mold and trichophyton:

  • Use a disinfectant designed to kill mold and fungus in the bathroom.
  • After bathing or showering, wipe down the tub or shower walls and curtain with a towel or squeegee. Some shower curtains can even be thrown in the washing machine.
  • Throw soiled tissues away and empty the wastebasket daily. Don’t leave them lying around the room or on top of the counter.

Rhinovirus, the main cause of the common cold, spreads easily when people touch contaminated surfaces and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth. This is true of COVID-19, too.

Rhinovirus and coronaviruses can live on surfaces for days, so clean your bathroom regularly.

 

Cleaning house

Bacteria and viruses can easily spread in other commonly used surfaces in your home, too.

Doorknobs

They do more than allow you into your home or a room. These handles can carry staph, short for Staphylococcus aureus, a common bacterium.

While usually not a threat, staph can be harmful if it enters your mouth, eyes, cuts, or scrapes, and can cause a wide spectrum of problems.

The new coronavirus can also get on your doorknobs if you’re regularly going to work or going out and then touching doorknobs before washing your hands.

A good swipe of the doorknob with an antibacterial cleaner or 60 percent alcohol solution will keep staph and other harmful microorganisms at bay.

Walls

If walls could talk, they would probably ask you to reconsider your paint choice — not the color but the type. Paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a huge source of indoor air pollution.

These chemicals, also found in upholstery, textiles, and other building materials, can cause a number of health-related issues. Of critical concern are paints in older homes that might contain lead.

The manufacturing of lead-based paint was banned in 1978. If your house was built after that, you’re probably fine on this one.

To reduce your exposure to these toxic vapors, choose low-VOC paints, milk paints, or whitewashes.

In older homes, check for the presence of lead by hiring a licensed risk assessor or by purchasing a lead home test kit at your local hardware store.

If you discover lead in your home, inquire about lead removal products at the hardware store or hire an experienced specialist to remove it.

Carpets and rugs

Many carpets and the adhesives and padding needed to install them emit the same VOCs as paint.

Some people experience flu-like symptoms after installing new carpet and others complain of eye, nose, and throat irritation.

Here are some ways you can avoid these symptoms and health issues related to VOCs in carpets and rugs:

  • Ask that your carpet be aired out before installation.
  • Open windows and doors and use fans to allow as much air to circulate in the room as possible.
  • Consider selecting carpet and related products that meet low-VOC emitting criteria for indoor air quality acceptance.
  • Vacuum your carpets and rugs frequently to ease allergic reactions to dust and pet dander.
  • Open windows periodically to help ventilate a room, especially after installing new carpet or painting walls.
  • Consider using an air purifier or house plants to filter toxins and any airborne VOCs out of the air.

SARS-CoV-2 can survive on carpets, rugs, and other fibers or fabrics for several hours.

You’re not likely to get the virus from these sources, but you can track the virus throughout your home if you walk on a contaminated carpet or rug and then to other rooms in your home.

Shake out your rugs regularly and steam clean your carpets as often as you can.

An air purifier may also help capture any infected respiratory droplets and airborne moisture particles (known as aerosols) from coughs or sneezes that may contain the coronavirus.

Dust

We sometimes think of household dust as dirt, but it’s much more than that.

A 2016 review published in the Environmental Science & Technology journal shows how household dust resembles a “parking lot for chemicals” in your home.

Researchers have identified 45 potentially harmful chemicals in household dust to examine. At least 10 of these chemicals were in almost all the samples taken from sites throughout the United States.

According to the review, dust can contribute to a wide array of health problems, including:

  • allergies
  • asthma
  • respiratory problems
  • cancers and disorders of the reproductive and nervous systems

These effects can increase in the winter when we typically spend more time indoors.

Dust can amount to a toxic soup made up of chemicals from fragrances, cleaning products, personal care products, and even the building materials your house is made of.

To keep problems from dust to a minimum, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recommends that you keep your home:

  • clean
  • dry
  • well-ventilated
  • maintained
  • free of pests
  • free of contaminants

Air Duct System Cleaning

     The air duct system also known as central air conditioning, provides on demand environmental ambient temperature control to occupants of a home or business. Think of the air duct system as the lungs of your home! Why should it be considered the lungs? Well, as the Air handler (furnace) turns its blower motor on to supply a consistent and steady stream of air to condition the temperature of the space per occupant’s request – at the same time the system in drawing in air and filtering it through your filter.

 

This constant re-circulation of air, does in fact help reduce dust and particulates floating in the air making indoor air quality markedly improved. However, a commonly unknown fact is that the air duct system of your home should be A. Regularly maintenance and will require a cleaning (depending on the amount of people in the home) B. On average every 5-6 years per NADCA (National Association of Air Duct Cleaners).

The constant recirculation of air into your system does carry all the dust freely floating in your home (along with pollutants you allow indoors from outside – pollen, allergens, and various spores) into your system where it will remain until it has been professionally cleaned.

On average, homes do not have their air duct systems cleaned for approximately 20 35 years. This long and vast accumulation of pollutants, debris from remodeling, dust, dirt, and germs all continue to impact the efficiency, health, and overall performance and life of the air duct systems heart – the air handler and blower motor! Not to mention that every time that air duct system that has not been cleaned recently kicks on – it is spewing those same pollutants and fine particulates – through your entire living quarters.

Hiring a reputable, certified, and professional air duct cleaning company can help provide peace of mind and most importantly a safer and healthier environment to raise your family in.

Gas and carbon monoxide

Natural gas

If your house uses natural gas for heating or cooking, you should always be alert for leaks.

Natural gas leaks are rare, but they can combust if near an open flame. They can also make you sick over the long term.

Evacuate your home and call 911 or the emergency number for your utility provider immediately if you smell gas or an odor like rotten eggs.

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that can cause flu-like symptoms or even death.

It’s a byproduct of fuel-burning appliances, including some space heaters, furnaces, water heaters, cooking ranges, portable generators, and car and truck engines.

To avoid problems, be sure your house is fitted with carbon monoxide detectors. Keep all appliances in good repair and never use a charcoal grill or portable generator inside your home.

 

Preventing fire

According to the American Red Cross, a home fire can grow from a spark to a life-threatening emergency within 2 minutes.

They suggest simple precautions to avoid fire danger:

  • Always have operating smoke alarms in your home. Check them once every month and install new batteries every 6 months.
  • Have a fire escape plan that all household members know.
  • If a fire does occur, get out of the house and stay out. Call 911 for help.

Most house fires start in the kitchen. They suggest taking the following additional fire precautions there:

  • Keep curtains, towel racks, and paper towel dispensers at a distance from stove burners.
  • Make sure your microwave vents aren’t obstructed.
  • Have a fire extinguisher within easy reach.
  • Don’t throw water on a grease fire. If a fire starts in a pan, put a lid on it or use your fire extinguisher.

Preventing falls

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of injuries for older Americans.

Each year, 1 in 4 adults over the age of 65 have a fall. This results in 3 million hospital emergency room visits and 800,000 hospitalizations. A fall can be a life-changing event for older adults.

Here are some simple measures you can take to improve the safety of your home.

  • Remove trip hazards. Take away anything you might trip over from your stairs and walkways, including papers, books, clothes, and shoes.
  • Prevent rug slippage. Remove small throw rugs or put nonslip, double-slip tape on their undersides to keep them in place.
  • Install grab bars. Have grab bars next to and inside the tub, and next to the toilet.
  • Use nonslip mats in your bathroom. Never place anything you might slip on in the bathtub or the shower.
  • Exercise. One of the main risk factors for falls is lower-body weakness. Exercise to keep your legs and torso strong and flexible. Tai chi, yoga, and swimming are especially good activities.
  • Keep your balance. Do what you can to improve any difficulties you have with walking and balance. Tai chi and yoga are helpful.
  • Know your medications. Some medicines including tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants can affect your balance. Ask your doctor to review your medications with you periodically.
  • Vision check. Have your vision checked every year and wear the corrective lenses that you need.
  • Wear proper shoes. Make sure your footwear fits and is in good repair.

Takeaway

Humankind has come a long way in the development of indoor spaces.

We take for granted a lot of modern conveniences, and some of these can bring harmful chemicals, germs, and safety risks into the home.

Take a few extra steps and precautions to make and keep your home a safe haven.

 

Green Cleaning for the Future of our Planet

 

Cleaning is an important part of everyday life, whether you’re running a small household or a large office building. Cleaning helps prevent the spread of germs, eliminates unsightly dirt and dust buildup and provides an overall sense of wellness. But in recent years, more individuals and facility managers have grown concerned about standard cleaning practices and how they can damage the environment and human health.

For years, we’ve been led to believe that the only way to get rid of germs and bacteria was to nuke them with harsh chemicals and toxins. Unfortunately, we now know these practices are not only ineffective but also harmful to our planet and our own health.

This is where green cleaning services swept in with an opportunity to eliminate dirt and germs while keeping humans and the environment safe. The evolution of green cleaning has come a long way and will only continue to improve as the countless benefits of this better way to clean become known.

What Is Green Cleaning?

Green cleaning is a term used to describe household and facility cleaning practices that address environmental and health issues. Green cleaning prevents negative environmental and human health consequences that occur with the use and methods of traditional cleaning.

Green cleaning addresses concerns like waste, consumption, recycling, energy usage, air and water quality, pollutants, chemicals and sanitation practices. Environmentally-friendly cleaning services are offered by experts in the green cleaning field. Their knowledge and expertise can help improve the indoor environment and sanitation levels of many different types of buildings, from offices and restaurants to schools and hospitals.

The History of Green Cleaning

The very first known cleaning product was a form of soap dating back to 2800 BC, and it was as green as green can be. Ancient cleaning products were developed long before the advent of synthetic chemicals and toxins. Soap products didn’t have chemical-induced scents like lavender and ocean breeze. But eventually, common belief was that by killing germs with harsh toxic chemicals, we would be protecting our health and our environment from these illness-causing microorganisms.

In the early 1960s, however, questions started to arise about the safety of these chemicals. Scientists began to question how these toxins may be affecting our environment and our human health. By the 1970s, the Environmental Protection Agency began waging war against specific chemicals. Exposure to environmental toxins was being linked to all kinds of health conditions, including certain types of cancers.

By the 1980s and 1990s the general public was becoming more aware of the chemicals used in their everyday cleaning products. This awareness also happened to coincide with the discovery of “sick building syndrome.”

Sick Building Syndrome

Sick building syndrome is a condition where the occupants or workers in a building suffer from a range of symptoms that are believed to be attributed to the indoor conditions of the building. In other words, the building itself makes the occupants sick.

Occupants found to be suffering from sick building syndrome experienced symptoms like eye, nose and throat sensitivity, skin irritation, fatigue, headaches, dizziness and an inability to concentrate. In 1983, the World Health Organization declared that sick building syndrome was a global health threat. This was due to poor indoor air quality inside buildings resulting from chemical off-gassing and toxic pollutants, including those emitted by harmful cleaning agents.

Green Buildings and Green Cleaning

In reaction to the disturbing findings of sick building syndrome, environmentalism, human health protection and construction merged to create a new field: green building. Green buildings are constructed with the goal of addressing the building’s entire impact and how it can be more environmentally-friendly and healthy for humans.

Green building standards began including requirements like toxic-free materials such as low- and non-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints, glues and other substances. Green builders also looked at ways to improve indoor air quality scores to prevent respiratory ailments and other health conditions.

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) was formed and became the early pioneers in environmental construction, setting the highest level of standards for green building using their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

With the increasing interest in green building, business and facility managers began to look at environmental design and performance from a holistic perspective. This means they started taking into consideration not just the building itself, but its complete impact, including how it is cleaned and maintained.

This is where green cleaning on a commercial level began to take off. Once building managers began to look at their facility in its entirety, they noticed how something seemingly as simple as cleaning was threatening their vision for sustainability. From the types of products being used to how service providers managed and disposed of waste, they realized there was huge opportunity for environmentally-friendly and health-conscious cleaning practices that could match the high-level goals of green buildings and offices.

How Green Cleaning Has Evolved

When research about toxic cleaning first became an issue in the 1960s, many forward-thinking businesses and facilities began to look for alternative cleaning products that reduced the number of harsh chemicals being used in indoor spaces. However, at the time, there simply wasn’t enough selection available in the marketplace, and any products that had been developed were much more expensive than their traditional counterparts. Consumers and businesses also feared their effectiveness was limited.

This continued to be a challenge for those who saw the benefits of toxic-free cleaning but were unable to justify the costs. As is the way with most revolutionary products, though, more and more began to adopt greener cleaning products and practices into their homes, offices and facilities. Products like microfiber cloths, allergen-free dusting tools and non-chemical cleaning agents became more popular.

Increased demand in chemical-free cleaning lowered product prices and opened the marketplace up to all kinds of new competitive green cleaning products and services. This also opened the market up to another challenge: greenwashing.

Greenwashing

Greenwashing is a deceptive marketing and product development practice that plays on consumer fears of harmful chemicals or desires to be eco-friendly. It came to light in the 1980s when many companies realized they could market themselves as “green” without having to provide any shred of evidence to support it. They targeted consumers they knew would purchase a product simply because it was labeled “eco” or “green.” To help consumers, Green Seal was created as a way to indicate to consumers that products met actual environmental standards.

Growing awareness about greenwashing is also part of the evolution of green cleaning. Today, many consumers are aware of deceptive marketing practices when it comes to environmentally-friendly cleaning products. That’s why a company’s image and brand play such a significant role in today’s marketplace.

Green Cleaning Value

When the USGBC included green cleaning in their LEED accreditation system, environmentally-friendly cleaning services became more popular. The products, services and entire footprint of the practice of cleaning have come a long way. What used to be cumbersome and expensive products have now developed into effective and beneficial business practices.

In fact, the evolution of green cleaning today has reached the point where environmentally-friendly cleaning services and products today are seen as “cost neutral,” meaning that the facility gets back from it what it has invested into it due to its abundant benefits. Additionally, the argument for green cleaning, while still important for the environment, is actually more focused around protecting human health, which bolsters other business and economic benefits as well.

Types of Green Cleaning Products and Services

Green cleaning products have certainly evolved since the earlier days of this practice. Some of today’s green cleaning products and services include:

  • Chemical-free cleaning agents
  • Non-VOC products
  • Fume-free and scent-free products
  • Non-pollutant and non-allergen vacuums, dusters, microfiber cloths and other cleaning tools and equipment
  • Recyclable or recycled packaging for cleaning products and equipment
  • Safe and environmentally conscious waste management, reduction and disposal practices

Organizations Using Green Cleaning Products and Services

There are many factors to consider when it comes to green cleaning practices. This is why today there is a demand for environmentally-friendly cleaning services that specialize in green cleaning practices. These professionals are experts in green cleaning, including the most effective green cleaning products and equipment as well as lowering footprints as a result of cleaning.

Here are some of the types of organizations and facilities that use and benefit from green cleaning services:

  • Office buildings
  • Condo and apartment buildings
  • Hotels and restaurants
  • Stadiums, arenas and other entertainment venues
  • Factories and warehouses
  • Schools and universities
  • Hospitals and clinics
  • Airports
  • Retail stores and shopping malls

Green cleaning services offer large-scale solutions that take into consideration the customer’s triple bottom line approach to operations. Triple bottom line is an accounting method that businesses use today to assess how their operations impact their people, the planet and their profits.

The Benefits of Green Cleaning

Organizations are choosing to partner with environmentally-friendly cleaning services because they are looking to operate from this triple bottom line approach. Green cleaning can deliver benefits to the building’s staff and occupants as well as the environment while proving to be cost effective in the process.

Here are the most important health, environmental and economic benefits of green cleaning for facilities:

  1. Protects Occupant Health: Today, green cleaning is widely recognized as a good practice for human health. There has been ample research done on the effects of sick buildings, including the types of chemical products that are used to clean them. Today, individuals and companies alike want to act more intentionally when it comes to prioritizing occupant and worker health. Green cleaning products and practices eliminate health risks that traditional cleaning products don’t.
  1. Meets Environmental and Health Goals: Buildings that are LEED certified or attaining LEED standards can support these goals by using green cleaning services. This helps the company reach its vision of being more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. This goes for existing buildings, too, which can use LEED and other similar standards as a guideline to improve their environmental and health impacts.
  1. Reduces Environmental Footprint: Green cleaning companies offer their services in a way that reduces their environmental footprint from start to finish. This includes items like waxing floors and disinfecting surfaces using green products to changing lightbulbs for energy efficient kinds. Additionally, green cleaning products such as cleaners, microfiber cloths and wipes as well as other equipment last longer than traditional cleaning products, which reduces waste because the products don’t need to be repurchased as frequently.
  1. Improves Air and Water Quality: Using environmentally-friendly cleaning products ensures that the fumes from harsh chemical cleaners aren’t being trapped inside the building and contributing to toxic and harmful indoor air. Additionally, water quality can also be protected when green cleaning agents are used because it doesn’t send toxins down the drains and into waterways.
  1. Prioritizes Waste Management and Reduction: Green cleaning services consider how the waste associated with cleaning will damage the environment. Green cleaners reduce consumption waste such as trash bags and janitorial paper products to consume less and ultimately save on natural resources required to produce these products. When you consider how often facilities are cleaned, this can add up in just a few months to a significant reduction in waste.
  1. Increases Cost-Effectiveness: Because green cleaning produces less waste and uses longer-lasting products, environmentally-friendly cleaning services can save on their overall operating costs. These cost-savings are then passed along to the customer, whether it’s a private corporate building or a public school that’s being cleaned.
  1. Improves Employee and Worker Productivity: Green cleaning can increase workplace satisfaction, worker and occupant well-being and even increase productivity while lowering absenteeism. First, green cleaning can adequately disinfect the building, which stops the spread of viruses and subsequent illnesses among workers. It also eliminates exposure to toxic chemicals, which can cause eye, respiratory and other health problems that prevent workers from being productive and even causes them miss work. Good air quality can also improve energy levels and focus, while poor air quality can make workers feel sluggish and distracted. This overall feeling of better focus and energy in the workplace helps employees feel a stronger sense of well-being. In fact, a World Green Building Council report from 2014 concluded that improved indoor air quality by reducing exposure to pollutants and increased ventilation raises productivity by 8%-11%.
  1. Strengthens Brand and Corporate Image: Because employees and consumers today have access to more information about companies, they are much savvier. This means companies that set high standards for health and environmental protection can improve their corporate and brand image among customers and employees.

Having a positive brand image builds customer loyalty and helps to retain employees, both of which are important for businesses in competitive markets. Companies that shift their building management practices toward healthy and environmentally-friendly ones can demonstrate to customers and employees that they take these issues seriously.

Future of Green Cleaning

In 2006, New York became the first state to require the use of green cleaning products and practices in all private and public schools. Over time, this will eventually become the standard in all facilities, public or private. When you consider the important benefits of green cleaning inside facilities, it’s easy to see why organizations like the USGBC have included green cleaning as one of their environmental and health standards.

If your facility is in need of environmentally-friendly cleaning services, Wiz Team, Inc. to improve the health, environmental impact and performance of your building.

 

How to Disinfect your Carpeting!

Research conducted by Philip Tierno Jr., Ph.D, a microbiologist and immunologist at New York University Langone Medical Center, who wrote a book titled, The Secret Life of Germs. Exposes what really resides deep within your carpet fibers.

Your home’s carpet may be harboring harmful bacteria, germs and allergens without you even realizing it. Here are four simple steps to help keep the carpet in your home clean:

  1. Place doormats at every entrance of your home and instill a strict “no shoes” policy indoors. Shoes worn outside can track in residue from asphalt, pet droppings and dirt. Wiping the bottom of shoes with a disinfectant occasionally can also help reduce contamination.
  2. Vacuum carpets and area rugs several times a week, and if you have an infant or toddlers, daily vacuuming is recommended. The vacuum can remove surface debris easily.
  3. You can naturally disinfect your carpet using products you may already have at home, according to Green America. They published 10 Simple Ways to Clean Greenand shared a recipe including baking soda, Borax and cornmeal. (We strongly recommend checking with a certified carpet cleaning professional when performing any DIY attempts – you don’t want to damage your carpeting).
  4. Hire a professional service such as Wiz Team, Inc. to provide a deep, steam cleaning at least once per year and more often if you have pets, parties or little ones. Having your carpet professionally cleaned not only prevents the spread and growth of microbes and germs hiding in your carpet, but it also furthers the lifetime of the carpet itself. Maintaining your carpeting properly allows for Wiz Team, Inc. to flush our all inorganic materials which often get buried deep in carpet fibers. These materials have a persistent habit of grinding and microscopically damaging your carpeting with every step. Over time this results in dull areas, shadows, and even bar spots. Prevent irreversible damages and have your carpet assessed by an IICRC certified carpet cleaning professional.

If the idea of hidden stuff in your carpet is making you think about a deep cleaning in the near future, you can use Wiz Team, Inc. to tackle the task of providing you with a 12 Step carpet cleaning program, leaving your home and carpets cleaned and healthier. You may realize there are other places in your home that are commonly missed during routine weekly cleans – consult with our friendly office staff about areas of the home that you feel you might need some professional help with. Consider that all soft goods (textiles, fabrics, and porous materials) can harbor germ growth and bacteria development.

Need professional assistance? We are here to serve you! Contact your nearby Wiz Team, Inc office and schedule your free In-Home consultation today! Reach us at 847-526-6060.

 

Cleaning and Disinfection for Households

Interim Recommendations for U.S. Households with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Summary of Recent Changes

Revisions were made on 3/26/2020 to reflect the following:

  • Updated links to EPA-registered disinfectant list
  • Added guidance for disinfection of electronics
  • Updated core disinfection/cleaning guidance

Background

There is much to learn about the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Based on what is currently known about the virus, and about similar coronaviruses that cause SARS and MERS, spread from person-to-person happens most frequently among close contacts (within about 6 feet). This type of transmission occurs via respiratory droplets, but disease transmission via infectious aerosols is currently uncertain. Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to persons from surfaces contaminated with the virus has not been documented. Transmission of coronavirus occurs much more commonly through respiratory droplets than through fomites. Current evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in households and community settings.

It is unknown how long the air inside a room occupied by someone with confirmed COVID-19 remains potentially infectious. Facilities will need to consider factors such as the size of the room and the ventilation system design (including flowrate [air changes per hour] and location of supply and exhaust vents) when deciding how long to close off rooms or areas used by ill persons before beginning disinfection.  Taking measures to improve ventilation in an area or room where someone was ill or suspected to be ill with COVID-19 will help shorten the time it takes respiratory droplets to be removed from the air.

Purpose

This guidance provides recommendations on the cleaning and disinfection of households where persons under investigation (PUI) or those with confirmed COVID-19 reside or may be in self- isolation. It is aimed at limiting the survival of the virus in the environments. These recommendations will be updated if additional information becomes available.

These guidelines are focused on household settings and are meant for the general public.

  • Cleaningrefers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. It does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
  • Disinfectingrefers to using chemicals, for example, EPA-registered disinfectants, to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

General Recommendations for Routine Cleaning and Disinfection of Households

  • Community members can practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces (for example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks, and electronics (see below for special electronics cleaning and disinfection instructions)) with household cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectantsexternal iconthat are appropriate for the surface, following label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
    • For electronics follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products. Consider use of wipeable covers for electronics. If no manufacturer guidance is available, consider the use of alcohol-based wipes or spray containing at least 70% alcohol to disinfect touch screens. Dry surfaces thoroughly to avoid pooling of liquids.

General Recommendations for Cleaning and Disinfection of Households with People Isolated in Home Care (e.g. Suspected/Confirmed to have COVID-19)

  • Household members should educate themselves about COVID-19 symptoms and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in homes.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily in household common areas (e.g. tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, phones, tablets, touch screens, remote controls, keyboards, handles, desks, toilets, sinks)
    • In the bedroom/bathroom dedicated for an ill person: consider reducing cleaning frequency to as-needed(e.g., soiled items and surfaces) to avoid unnecessary contact with the ill person.
  • As much as possible, an ill person should stay in a specific room and away from other people in their home, following home care guidance.
  • The caregiver can provide personal cleaning supplies for an ill person’s room and bathroom, unless the room is occupied by child or another person for whom such supplies would not be appropriate. These supplies include tissues, paper towels, cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants (see examplesexternal icon).
  • If a separate bathroom is not available, the bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected after each use by an ill person. If this is not possible, the caregiver should wait as long as practical after use by an ill person to clean and disinfect the high-touch surfaces.
  • Household members should follow home care guidancewhen interacting with persons with suspected/confirmed COVID-19 and their isolation rooms/bathrooms.

How to clean and disinfect:

Hard (Non-porous) Surfaces

  • Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Gloves should be discarded after each cleaning. If reusable gloves are used, those gloves should be dedicated for cleaning and disinfection of surfaces for COVID-19 and should not be used for other purposes. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and disinfection products used. Clean handsimmediately after gloves are removed.
  • If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • For disinfection, most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.
    • A list of products that are EPA-approved for use against the virus that causes COVID-19 is available herepdf iconexternal icon. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products for (concentration, application method and contact time, etc.).
    • Additionally, diluted household bleach solutions (at least 1000ppm sodium hypochlorite) can be used if appropriate for the surface. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application, ensuring a contact time of at least 1 minute, and allowing proper ventilation during and after application. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
  • Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
    • 5 tablespoons (1/3rdcup) bleach per gallon of water or
    • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water

Soft (Porous) Surfaces

  • For soft (porous) surfaces such as carpeted floor, rugs, and drapes, remove visible contamination if present and clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on these surfaces. After cleaning:

Electronics

  • For electronics such as cell phones, tablets, touch screens, remote controls, and keyboards, remove visible contamination if present.
    • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products.
    • Consider use of wipeable covers for electronics.
    • If no manufacturer guidance is available, consider the use of alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol to disinfect touch screens. Dry surfaces thoroughly to avoid pooling of liquids.

Linens, clothing, and other items that go in the laundry

  • Wear disposable gloves when handling dirty laundry from an ill person and then discard after each use. If using reusable gloves, those gloves should be dedicated for cleaning and disinfection of surfaces for COVID-19 and should not be used for other household purposes. Clean handsimmediately after gloves are removed.
    • If no gloves are used when handling dirty laundry, be sure to wash hands afterwards.
    • If possible, do not shake dirty laundry. This will minimize the possibility of dispersing virus through the air.
    • Launder items as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely. Dirty laundry from an ill person can be washed with other people’s items.
    • Clean and disinfect clothes hampers according to guidance above for surfaces. If possible, consider placing a bag liner that is either disposable (can be thrown away) or can be laundered.

Hand hygiene and other preventive measures

  • Household members should clean handsoften, including immediately after removing gloves and after contact with an ill person, by washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly dirty, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol may be used. However, if hands are visibly dirty, always wash hands with soap and water.
  • Household members should follow normal preventive actions while at work and home including recommended hand hygieneand avoiding touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Additional key times to clean hands include:
      • After blowing one’s nose, coughing, or sneezing
      • After using the restroom
      • Before eating or preparing food
      • After contact with animals or pets
      • Before and after providing routine care for another person who needs assistance (e.g. a child)

Other considerations

  • The ill person should eat/be fed in their room if possible. Non-disposable food service items used should be handled with gloves and washed with hot water or in a dishwasher. Clean handsafter handling used food service items.
  • If possible, dedicate a lined trash can for the ill person. Use gloves when removing garbage bags, handling, and disposing of trash. Wash handsafter handling or disposing of trash.
  • Consider consulting with your local health department about trash disposal guidance if available.

Additional Resources

Source Credit: CDC.GOV

COVID-19 CDC & American Red Cross Guidelines

 

Use Healthy Practices to Protect Yourself

The best way to stay healthy is to follow these steps from the CDC:

 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and throw the tissue away after use. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow or sleeve, not your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, computers, phones, keyboards, sinks, toilets, faucets and countertops.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them – use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. Find full information on how to disinfect here.
  • Wear a facemask if you are sick. You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office.

Coronavirus Safety:    

Follow these 3 easy steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

  • Sneeze or cough?  Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or use your elbow!
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces around your home and work frequently.

Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19:

Community practices such as social distancing, closures and canceling large gatherings can help slow the spread of this virus.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Listen to and follow the directions of your state and local authorities.
  • Stay home if you can and avoid any non-essential travel.
  • Avoid social gatherings of more than ten people.
  • Practice social distancing by keeping at least six feet away from others if you must go out in public.
  • Avoid eating or drinking in bars, restaurants, and food courts. Use drive-thru, pickup or delivery options.
  • Avoid visiting nursing homes, retirement or long-term care facilities.

Precautions for Those at Higher Risk:

According to the CDC, early information shows that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. This includes older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease.

If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or a serious long-term health problem, it is extra important for you to take actions to avoid getting sick.

  • Stay home and avoid crowds as much as possible. Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
  • When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often.
  • Talk with your doctor about any additional steps you may be able to take to protect yourself.
  • Stock up on supplies:
    • Contact your healthcare provider to ask about obtaining extra necessary medications to have on hand in case there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community and you need to stay home for a prolonged period of time. If you cannot get extra medications, consider using a mail-order option.
    • Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.
    • Have enough household items and groceries on hand so that you will be prepared to stay at home for a period of time.

Source Credit: AmericanRedCross.com

THE EASY GUIDE TO CLEANING GROUT

THE EASY GUIDE TO CLEANING GROUT:  DIY TILE & GROUT CLEANERS TESTED

 

Need help cleaning grout? I tested 10 popular homemade grout cleaners to figure out which DIY tile and grout cleaner works best.   The winning solution is an all-natural cleaner that brightens and whitens grout with only 2 simple ingredients. Learn the easy, healthy way to clean grout and tile today!

Our new-to-us house has a white tile entry and white tile in the kitchen. Between the kids, the dog, and my husband (who likes to walk inside in his lawn mowing shoes) it’s nearly impossible to keep the tile and grout clean.

Seriously, there always seems to be one mystery spot or blob of goo somewhere on the white tile floor.

The worst part? The brownish discolored tile grout.

The floor tile grout hadn’t been cleaned in so long that it was hard to tell what the original color was meant to be. Was it white? Was it tan? Your guess is as good as mine.

WHAT’S BEST FOR CLEANING GROUT?

I love DIY green cleaning solutions so I set out to find the best homemade grout cleaner that uses safe, all-natural ingredients.

THE GREAT GROUT CLEANER EXPERIMENT

I decided to test the 10 most popular DIY grout cleaners online to find the best homemade grout cleaner.

Methodology

I tested each cleaner on the same surface (grimy white grout and tile) and used the same process to test each cleaner:

  1. I divided the tile floor into 10 sections using painters tape and numbered the sections with post it notes. (Yes, I’m a green cleaning nerd.)
  2. I mixed a batch of one cleaner, applied it to one section of the tile and grout, gave the cleaner 10 minutes to start working, then scrubbed the grout with a clean, dry toothbrush and wiped the area clean with water and a clean white cloth.
  3. I repeated step 2 nine more times using a clean, dry toothbrush and different white cloth each time. (I’m a martyr for your green cleaning needs!)
  4. I waited overnight for the grout to dry completely and then recorded the results.

The differences between the tile and grout cleaners were mind boggling! Some of the cleaners made absolutely no difference, some worked okay, and two left the tile grout amazingly clean!

THE TESTED GROUT CLEANERS

Grout Cleaner #1

Ingredients: 3 cups water, ½ cup baking soda, 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, 1/4 cup white vinegar

Directions: Mix ingredients in a spray bottle. Spray floor, let sit for a few minutes, scrub.

Grout Cleaner #2

Ingredients: 1 cup Epsom salts, 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup liquid hand washing dish soap

Directions: Mix together the Epsom salts, baking soda, and dish soap. Scoop mixture onto grout and rub clean. Rinse.

Grout Cleaner #3 (Winner!)

Ingredients: 1/2 cup of baking soda, 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide, 1 tsp dish soap

Directions: Mix together the baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and dish soap. Spoon mixture onto grout, wait 5-10 minutes, scrub and rinse.

Grout Cleaner #4 (Winner!)

Ingredients: 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup hydrogen peroxide

Directions: Sprinkle baking soda onto grout until it is covered, spray with hydrogen peroxide until it is wet, wait 10 minutes, scrub, and wipe clean.

Grout Cleaner #5

Ingredients: 3/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 3 tbsp salt, 3 tbsp hand dish washing liquid, 1/2 cup vinegar, 10 drops essential oil (I used lemon)

Directions: Mix together is large bowl or bucket (mixture foams a lot), pour into spray bottle. Spray floor, let sit for a few minutes, scrub.

Grout Cleaner #6

Ingredients: 1 gallon water, 1/4 cup washing soda, 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1 tbsp dish soap

Directions: Combine washing soda, vinegar, and dish soap in a one gallon container. Slowly pour water into container. Pour mix into spray bottle, spray floor, let sit for a few minutes, scrub.

Grout Cleaner #7

Ingredients: 1 gallon hot water, 1/4 cup vinegar, 2 tbsp Castile soap, 8-12 drops essential oil (I used lemon)

Directions: Mix ingredients in a bucket and mop floor.

Grout Cleaner #8

Ingredients: 1.5 gallons hot water, 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide, 1/2 – 3/4 cup white vinegar, 5-10 drop essential oils (I used lemon)

Directions: Pour all ingredients into the hot water. Stir to combine. Mop or spray on floor.

Grout Cleaner #9

Ingredients: 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1 tbsp hand dish washing detergent

Directions: Pour ingredients into a spray bottle and swirl to combine. Spray on floor, wait 5-10 minutes, scrub and rinse.

Grout Cleaner #10

Ingredients: 2 cups warm water, 1 tbsp baking soda, 2 tbsp Castile soap, 30 drops tea tree essential oil, 20 drops sweet orange essential oil

Directions: Pour ingredients into a spray bottle, shake to combine. Spray grout and wipe clean.

THE TILE AND GROUT CLEANER RESULTS

The Winners

The best grout cleaner was the most simple: hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. Grout Cleaner # 3 and Grout Cleaner #4 both use this combo and had equally great results.

Why this combo works:

  • Baking sodais mildly abrasive so it helps to remove the dirt that is stuck in the porous grout surfaces without causing any damage.
  • Hydrogen peroxideis a natural alternative to bleach that brightens and eliminates germs. Plus it is non-toxic and decomposes into water and oxygen.
  • Dish washing detergent (used in Grout Cleaner #3) cuts through the greasy grime that gets tracked onto tile floors.

I love using the cleaning combo of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide! It’s in my DIY  Natural All-Purpose Cleaner that works great for all types of household cleaning and is perfect for laundry stain removal.

The Losers

The most disappointing homemade grout cleaners were the ones that mix reactive ingredients such as Castile soap and vinegar or vinegar and baking soda.

  • These combos create reactions that cancel out the cleaning power of both ingredients and leave your grout and tile dirtier.

I was also let down by cleaners that used expensive ingredients (such as 50 drops of essential oil) or took a lot of time to make (such as measuring and mixing 6 ingredients) and didn’t do much cleaning.

I’d rather stick with low cost ingredients that are easy to mix into a cleaner!

HOW TO CLEAN GROUT

 Getting ready to clean? These grout cleaning tips will help you get the best results:

 

  • Give the grout cleaner some dwell time.You’ll get the best results if you allow your favorite cleaner some time to work (also called dwell time) before you start scrubbing. When cleaning tile grout, let the cleaner sit on the surface for 5-10 minutes then scrub out the dirt.

 

  • Use a small, firm brush to scrub grout lines.Grout is porous meaning it has minute spaces or holes that liquid can pass through. These tiny spaces are great traps for dirt and grime. Scrubbing grout with small firm brush will loosen this dirt making it easier to mop or wipe up. (I use a cheap toothbrush to scrub my grout.)

 

  • Scrub first then mop.After scrubbing the grout clean give the entire tile floor a final once over with a mop (or damp cloth). Use warm water with a few drops of dish detergent or a gentle floor cleaner. This final swipe will rinse off any remaining grout cleaner and leave the entire floor shiny.

 

Red Brick TileGROUT CLEANING FAQ

I get lots of emails from readers with grout cleaning questions. Here are some of the most common questions about cleaning grout:

What is grout?

Grout is the porous material that builders use to fill the spaces or cracks between tiles. It creates a smooth solid floor, wall, or backsplash and makes tile pop. The most common type of grout is cement grout. It is made from a mix that includes water, cement and (sometimes) sand.

How do you clean grout between floor tiles?

Apply grout cleaner, allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes, then get a small brush and scrub. An old toothbrush works great.

Is bleach bad for tile grout?

I do not clean with chlorine bleach because it is toxic and pollutes indoor air. You should not use bleach when cleaning grout and tile because:

  • Bleach is a base with a pH of around 12 meaning it is a highly alkaline substance that is caustic (can cause severe burns or injuries). Because of its high pH bleach can be corrosive and slowly destroy the materials it touches including grout and tile finishes.
  • Grout is porous so it absorbs the bleach and wicks it down to your subflooring and/or over to you baseboards (or carpet) where it can do even more damage and cannot be rinsed away. Yikes!

 

Is vinegar bad for tile grout?

Vinegar is an acid with a pH of around 2 (vinegar contains acetic acid). A popular cleaning vinegar manufacturer recommends never cleaning grout with vinegar because it can corrode the surface.

There are a lot of online cleaning tips that recommend mixing baking soda and vinegar to clean grout. This fun bubbling reaction is actually the baking soda neutralizing the acetic acid in the vinegar. The resulting mix cleans about as well as plain water.

How do you clean grout naturally?

Mix a thin paste of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, apply it to the grout, wait 10 minutes then scrub with a toothbrush, wiped clean with a damp cloth.

  • Baking soda is mildly abrasiveso it helps remove the dirt that is stuck in the porous grout surfaces without causing any damage.
  • Hydrogen peroxide is a natural alternative to bleach that brightens and eliminates germs. Plus it is non-toxic and decomposes into water and oxygen.

How do you whiten tile grout naturally?

Let the cleaner “soak” into the grout for a few extra minutes (15-20 minutes). Giving the cleaner  more “dwell time” allows it to brighten and whiten the grout.

What’s the best homemade grout and tile cleaner?

Mix together 1/2 cup of baking soda, 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide, and 1 tsp dish soap. Apply cleaning mixture onto grout, wait 5-10 minutes, scrub and rinse.

 

If you require professional assistance in getting your tile and grout to look beautiful and vibrant again – contact Wiz Team, Inc. at 847-526-6060 to set up your free in-home consultation today!

Grout: Sealers 101

 

Let’s face it, grout can be tough to clean. The problem is, grout maintenance takes time and effort. And many homeowners don’t know how to properly care for grout around kitchen, bathroom, and living room tiles, leading to problems down the road. Sealing grout is the most important thing you can do to keep it sanitary and avoid having it erode. With proper grout maintenance, care and cleaning is easier and grout will last for years to come.

After you’ve cleaned the grout with the method that works best for your home, you’ll need to reseal it. (Note: epoxy grouts don’t need to be sealed.) Choosing the right sealant depends on the job. For instance, surface sealants or coatings are not sufficient sealers in a bathroom. They need silicone, not water-based products. Your selection depends on several factors, such as the type of the grout, location, your intention, applying method, and budget.

 

Why Seal Grout?

Regular cleaning for good grout maintenance isn’t usually enough to prevent buildup of mold and bacteria. Because grout is porous, it traps dirt and is a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and fungus, so sealing it is a must. Properly applying a grout sealant protects the grout and helps keep you and your family healthy. Apply grout sealant based on traffic or usage patterns. The tile floor in a living room may get a lot of traffic, but little moisture, whereas bathroom tile gets a lot of use and moisture, especially tile showers or tubs. Reseal grout once per year for these “hotspot” areas and also after you have deep cleaned your tile and grout. Low traffic or usage areas need resealing every 4-5 years to remain effective.

 

Different Types of Sealers

There are many types of sealant products and each offers different benefits depending on your objective for grout maintenance. Regardless of product type, sealants fall under one of three categories:

 

Coatings

Color Sealers

Penetrating Sealers

Coatings are a thin layer on the grout surface so no oil, water, or dirt can penetrate the grout pores. There are two coatings available: permanent and strippable.

Permanent coatings are difficult to remove. They are made of epoxies, polyurethanes, and such. Because they are so difficult to remove, this type of product is not always recommended.

 

Strippable coatings are easier to remove from the grout’s surface. These are made of styrene, acrylics, polyethylene, and other polymers. Most are water based making removal easier to do. Check the label for acrylic, high speed, metal cross link, and so on.

Color sealers will bond to your grout, filling the pores, while keeping the same look and texture of your original grout. Color sealers will also allow you to change your grout from dark to light, or even light to dark. Penetrating sealers are made to penetrate the grout surface and deposit particles that will protect the grout, preventing water and dirt from penetrating the grout. These types of sealers mostly contain silane, siloxane, silicone, or some other silicon derivative.

Depending on traffic patterns in your home, and general condition, when you keep up with grout maintenance, it can help your tiling and flooring sparkle for many years.

Beware that improperly sealed grout lines may trap dirt permanently. For professional assistance always remember, Wiz Team, Inc. offers free in-home consultations of all of our Tile & Grout cleaning and sealing services.

 

Simply call our friendly office staff at 847.526.6060 to set up your appointment today!

5 Reasons It’s More Fun to Clean in December

 

 

Whether you like to clean or not, you have to admit that there’s something magical about making your home sparkle this time of year. Maybe it’s all the wine? Or maybe it really is just more fun?

 

Keep reading for five good arguments on why it’s better to clean in December.

  1. It’ll warm you up.

Baby, it’s cold outside (and probably inside, too!). A little vacuuming, dusting, or cabinet organizing is a good way to get that blood flowing and increase your body temp.

I am notoriously always cold (I complain so much all winter that people who don’t know me think I’m from Florida … and then I tell them I’m from New Jersey!). I can never seem to warm up and will never say it’s too hot — even in August. But after any cleaning session this time of year, you can find me overheating, stripped down to a tank top and shorts with my hair piled in a messy bun on the top of my head.

Try it. If your place is tidy to your liking and you’re still cold, you can crank up the heat or light a fire. But I’m guessing it won’t come to that.

 

 

 

 

  1. You can listen to Christmas songs the entire time.

I highly recommend the “Today’s Christmas” station on Pandora. I turn that on, crank up the volume, and get to cleaning my own little winter wonderland. It’s certainly not as educational as a podcast, but I think it’s okay to zone out for a few hours. Plus, this station gets me in the mood for some serious holiday-ing.

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Your soap smells like pine trees.  Or cranberries. Or peppermint. The holiday season is a short one, so there’s a limited amount of time that it’s technically acceptable to surround yourself with these festive scents. I fully support getting as much of it as humanly possible while you can. I can clean with basil-scented soap 11 other months out of the year. For now, I’m going with something that smells like a forest of trees and freshly fallen snow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. You can do it under the twinkle of string lights.

Yes, I know you’re technically supposed to clean when it’s sunny, so you can see all the dust. (Although you’re supposed to clean windows when it’s overcast. So many rules!) But I’d rather do it at night with all my Christmas lights on to set the mood. It just makes it all feel so much more special. Like I’m a Christmas elf and I’m on a mission. Besides, that’s the setting my guests are going to see, anyway. So I may as well clean from their perspective.

 

 

 

  1.  You’re getting ready for guests.

Guests, I say! It’s not like you’re cleaning for no reason (you know, aside from having a clean home). You’re organizing because your coworkers are coming over. You’re vacuuming because your baby nephew will be scooting around on your floor. You’re scrubbing your countertops because you’re about to prepare a major feast in that kitchen. Those impending plans just make it all worth it. I know I’m going to have fun and people might even shower me with compliments when they see how clean I keep my home.

 

 

 

What do you help cleaning this time of year? Your professional cleaning and restoration specialists are here to make your holidays go right. Give us a call to set-up your free in-home consultation today at 847.526.6060.

From all of us at Wiz Team, Inc. we wish you a happy and safe holiday season!

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