How Certifications Help Guide Your Vacuum Selection

Has it been a while since you’ve had to replace a vacuum? Or, maybe you’re new to purchasing cleaning and sanitation equipment.

Whatever the case, it’s hard to differentiate all the choices available. While certifications in some niches can serve as moneymakers for the certifying organization more than anything else, they do help with your decision making when it comes to choosing the right vacuum.

With vacuums, the leading (and highly credible) organizations are LEED, the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), and the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America (AAFA).

1. Highest Level of Certification: Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America

To be certified by the AAFA, a vacuum must have CRI’s highest level of certification (gold), and meet HEPA system standards. The AAFA also puts the vacuum through a series of rigorous tests that actually prove it reduces allergens and asthma causing irritants. The vacuum must also provide increased environmental control versus others, and must withstand routine cleaning.

If a vacuum comes AAFA certified, you can bet it’s as good as vacuums get. You can learn more about the AAFA’s certification, called the “Asthma & Allergy Friendly Certification” at their website.

2. CRI Seal of Approval

This certification, just mentioned in the previous point as part of the AAFA’s certification, comes in three levels: gold, silver, and bronze. Here’s what each level requires:

  • Gold: 55% of soil removed from carpets with less than 35 micrograms of dust emitted per cubic meter of air
  • Silver: 50%/must emit less than 100 mcg
  • Bronze: 40-49%/must emit less than 100 mcg

CRI offers a detailed explanation of its certification and exactly what it means at its website.

3. LEED Green Cleaning Certification

Also based on the CRI certification, a vacuum must have a CRI gold rating and emit less than 70 decibels of sound when operating to become LEED certified.

LEED has a much more cryptic website than most, but you get plenty of detail on their certification and what it’s all about here.

So now, you don’t have to worry about the quality of the vacuum you’re about to buy. These certifications help you understand which vacuums rock and will accomplish the purpose you hope for.

Understanding Active And Passive Odor Control

Restroom odors can be a huge business killer if customers come into your store. If you run an office with employees only, then you get complaints and reduced work performance.

With the traffic your restroom gets, it can be difficult to control the unpleasant odors that come out as a result.

So, let’s talk about some of the common issues with passive and active odor control. But first, let’s define each:

  1. Active odor control involves using battery-operated dispensers with fans or propellants that push the odor-eater into the air
  2. Passive systems simply rely on natural air movement to do the hard work

1. Active Aerosol-Based Dispensers

Because these dispensers rely on a propellant to deliver their scent, they should be placed in a central area, about 10 feet from the floor. They need to be placed high on the wall because their scent will hang in the air for about 12 minutes or so, and the higher placement allows the scented particles the most time to do their work. Otherwise, they fall to the floor, and part of their life goes to waste.

You also don’t want them to spray someone in the face. And they should be situated so they don’t spray all over the floor, discoloring it or causing it to be a slipping hazard.

2. Passive Dispensers

The molecules diffused into the air from a passive dispenser are actually lighter than air and hang around in the air much longer. But, the trade-off is they don’t provide as large of an area of coverage or as potent of a scent as aerosol.

Because they rely on air movement to disburse their scent, passive dispensers should be situated near opening and closing doors. That draft will distribute their scent. Typically, this suits them best for smaller restrooms.

You May Need to Combine Active and Passive Odor Control

Some restrooms may be too large for even an active dispenser to accommodate. That’s where passive dispensers can silently come to the rescue.

You simply have to plan out odor control based jointly on science and your own preference.

HAI Risk Falls 22% in US Hospitals

The risk for acute-care hospital patients to get an HAI has decreased 22% from 2011 to 2015.

However, this comes as a bit of a mixed blessing, as most of the reduction in HAIs was due to reductions in surgical site infections.

Risks of other conditions such as pneumonia remain almost unchanged.

In other words, healthcare institutions still have work to do in making their facilities cleaner and more sanitary. Currently, the CDC says 1.7 million Americans get an HAI each year, with 99,000 resulting in patient deaths. It also leads to $20 billion in additional healthcare costs.

How can your professional healthcare organization prevent HAIs?

Here’s what you can do:

  • Make It an Organization-Wide Strategic Initiative

Other patients, medical professionals, and your building itself can all transmit HAIs to your patients.

Typically, there’s not a single cause of HAIs at any one healthcare organization. Hand hygiene frequently plays a role, so it should be near the top of your list of things to address.

But, other factors like how you contact patients, the frequency of doing so, and your decontamination processes play a role too.

You have to analyze all these factors and processes, and design and implement ones that mitigate the risks yours have traditionally caused.

  • Measure And Understand Your Current Baseline

This one won’t be easy. But, you must have a method for knowing your current patient HAI rate to the best of your ability.

You can only improve if you know what’s happening right now.

Then, determine when you’ll follow up in the future with measuring. This most likely would be on an annual basis, or perhaps less frequently.

  • Simple Things You Can Check and Implement

That National Institutes of Mental Health offers a handbook that offers basics on preventing HAIs.

This includes the proper use of personal protective equipment. This also includes proper removal when leaving areas where patients are cared for. They note that during the 2003 outbreak of SARS in Canada, 44% affected employees. Just 9 had formal infection control training. 13 didn’t know how to wear or remove their PPE. 6 reused medical equipment. 8 had awareness of a breach of infection control precautions.

Finally, despite all the education health care workers have, they frequently don’t adhere to infection control precautions.

Knowledge Really Is Power…and So Is Training

For the most part, it boils down to really simple stuff with HAIs. Yes, it’s hard to implement and enforce procedures across many employees.

But it saves lives, makes patients happier, saves you money, and improves your reputation.

So take these tips to heart, and talk with your health care workers and cleaning team to create a plan that nearly eliminates the risk of HAIs for your patients.

How to Overcome the Most Common Problems with Finishing Floors

Floor finishing isn’t always easy or straightforward, depending on the type of floor you’re considering. Sometimes customers have their own unique concerns that make it difficult to accomplish the objective of having a beautiful, and sanitary, floor.

Here’s what to do when those challenges come up:

Your Customer Insists On “Waxing”

Here, you’ll have to educate your customer that floors often don’t get “waxed” anymore. You’ll have to show them the type of finish that’s appropriate for their floor and goals, and why it’s used (instead of wax).

They may continue to use the term “wax,” even after you’ve educated them. But, let them go ahead and do so, as long as they let you do their job and give them the outcome they want.

You might tell them that using wax in this particular situation will lead to great expense down the road should the wax need to be removed. Talking money often gets customer attention.

The Customers’ Floor Isn’t as Glossy As They’d Like

Here again, you’ll have to educate your customer as to what needs to be done. Tell your customer they may need more coats of finish, thicker coats of finish, less abrasive buffing pads, removal of sand left on the floor, or even to replace the tile on their floor (if it’s quite old and porous).

Customers typically want the superficial shiny look because it gives the appearance of a building in good order (whether that’s the case or not). You may also need to educate them on the use of additional floor mats so dirt, sand, and other debris cling to those instead of the floor. And your customer may need to educate their building’s occupants to make more conscious use of these mats.

Keeping a building clean is truly a team effort between you and your customer.

Your Floor Finish Has Lots of Streaks

This problem is most likely caused by your janitorial team. It could have a number of causes, such as:

  • Floor finish not being given enough time to dry before additional coats get applied
  • Your team may have used dirty mops or pails to apply the finish
  • Your floor finish was stored in extreme temperatures
  • The floor wasn’t rinsed properly before being coated
  • If you use cotton mop heads, they may not have been soaked prior to use

So, you now have some common solutions to floor finishing problems. And, they’ll save you plenty of stress and hassle when you use them.

Portable Chemical Dispensers Make Chemical Mixing Safe and Easy



The last thing you want to happen is to be responsible for a chemical accident, whether on your company’s premises or off. You don’t want people getting hurt, long and costly lawsuits, or your name appearing in local news headlines.

Cleaning pros still experience serious injuries because of inappropriate chemical dilution. Accidents happen. Negligence happens.

Chemical dispensers can’t eliminate human error. But they can greatly reduce it.

Here’s some more info on various types of chemical dispensers you can use to increase worker safety and decrease accidents:

  1. Chemical Containers Attached to Handheld Units

With these, a water hose runs straight to the handheld unit. The cleaning pro simply squeezes the trigger on the handheld unit, which then properly dilutes water with the cleaning chemical. The handheld unit can be reused.

Just like their wall-mounted counterparts, a metering tip regulates the amount of chemical released and mixed with the water. This metering tip is typically shaped like a cone or cylinder. The opening, which releases the chemical, can vary in size.

Most systems build the tip directly into the container that holds the chemical. And it’s something you should aim to have because it’s simpler than changing the metering tip that has the right diameter of opening for each chemical. Plus, because each chemical container has its own tip, you don’t have to worry about yours wearing out and allowing too much of the chemical to mix in.

  1. Disposable/Self-Contained Dispensers

With these, a permanently attached head connects the chemical container to your water source. Usually, these systems are completely sealed. So that completely protects your employees from any hazardous chemical exposure. The entire system can be recycled after use.

They’re also incredibly easy to set up and use. Pull them out of the box, hook them up to the water, and you’re ready to mix and start cleaning. Plus, it takes just seconds to show employees how to do this simple process.

Some customers need multiple cleaning solutions. And that’s when these self-contained systems really shine because they save your employees so much time.

Keep those benefits of two kinds of portable dispensers in mind the next time you clean for your customers.

5 Most Common Commercial Cleaning Accidents to Avoid


Don’t want your name in the local headlines? Use these 5 simple tips to avoid common commercial cleaning accidents.

What are the most common commercial cleaning injuries?

You probably know them. But they continue to happen anyway.

Learn what they are and what you can do about them:

  1. Slips & Falls

They’re the most common type of accident by far. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they cause the most disabling injuries. To you the employer, that means high worker’s compensation costs.

The CDC gathered statistical data, and found tripping over an open drawer and loose electrical cords or carpeting are the most common cause. In addition, wet and slippery floors are a leading cause of this type of injury.

Sounds obvious and routine, but isn’t it the things you’re used to that always cause the worst accidents?

  1. Injuries from Lifting

Common injury, but preventable. First, your employees should always make sure they have the ability to lift their intended object.

Then, whenever they do pick something up, they should use their legs to lift, and not their back. They should also use their entire hands to lift the object, not just their fingers.

The same process should be used when setting heavy objects down.

  1. Chemical Accidents

The US Department of Labor actually lists cleaning and custodial work as one of the most dangerous jobs in the country!

To prevent an unfortunate chemical accident, make sure you take a complete inventory of all cleaning chemicals you own. You should have precision safety records and processes for all chemicals you use or store.

Cleaning chemicals should never be mixed, even if they are similar. You should also keep chemicals in well-ventilated areas, but also away from intake vents. Your company should also have safety signage with images and multiple languages to protect everyone.

All workers who will handle commercial chemicals must understand what the commercial cleaning language means.

  1. Cleaning Chemical Fires

Just follow this rule to avoid this situation:

If it’s 6 months old, you should think about disposing of it if you haven’t used it during that time period. If it’s 12 months old, definitely get rid of it.

  1. Accidental Ingestion by Children

If there’s something children aren’t supposed to have, they’ll find a way to get into it. If children are routinely on-premises, lock your cleaning chemicals up.

If you follow those guidelines, you give yourself minimal chance of experiencing a tragic commercial cleaning accident.



How to Protect Employees that Use Cleaning Chemicals


Last month was what the National Safety Council dubbed “National Safety Month.”

The goal: reduce the leading causes of death and injury at work, on the road, at home, and in your community.

So we’re going to do our part and give you some tips for keeping your employees safe from cleaning chemical accidents:

  1. Choose the Least Hazardous Cleaning Chemical That Works

Do you really need that high-power sanitizer or disinfectant? Think about that carefully. Compare the product you want to use to others available. If you can find one that achieves the same result, but doesn’t have as dangerous of chemicals in it, use it.

  1. Hold Regular Trainings

If your cleaning chemicals are hazardous, OSHA requires you to train your workers. And even though your workforce is competent, they still need a refresher. They’re human too, after all.

Make sure your employees keep their minds sharp and knowledge of handling hazardous cleaning chemicals up-to-date.

  1. Employer Responsibilities for Worker Safety

Safety isn’t all up to your employees. Some responsibility falls onto you too. Here’s what you should be doing, according to OSHA:

  • Warn workers they can’t mix bleach and ammonia products
  • Make sure workers know how to property dilute cleaners
  • Have an extensive use, storage, and emergency spill procedure in place that you routinely review
  • Review and provide the proper protective equipment
  • Label all products
  • Run ventilation systems so hazardous vapors don’t accumulate
  • Give workers time and access to a place to wash up after they use cleaning chemicals
  1. Perform a Company-Wide Risk Assessment

When was the last time you actually checked your entire safety processes from start to finish? It’s a good time to do that now.

Perform your own audit, and ask your employees for feedback. You’ll have a solid process once all’s said and done.

  1. Use Green Cleaning Products Where Possible

We don’t always know the long-term ramifications of artificially made cleaning chemicals. But, we do know green cleaning is safe and close to cost in artificial chemicals.

So why not simply avoid any chance of injury whatsoever and simply use green products?

There you have it – 5 easy ways to improve worker safety around cleaning chemicals today.

What’s the Shelf Life of Cleaning Products?


Can you really trust the “best if used by” dates on cleaning products?

You see them on food products all the time. Manufacturers post them voluntarily.

It turns out you can trust these. They’re accurate and helpful. And it’s good to tell your clients what those dates are.

Some basic guidelines for storing your cleaning products:

  1. Bleach

It lasts about a year when stored at 70 degrees. If you store bleach in temperature extremes, it may not be as effective. If you don’t use it at all for 6 months, you should strongly consider buying new bleach.

  1. Microfiber Products

How you care for them has the biggest impact on their lifespan. You can get 100 uses out of them on average. However, never wash them with fabric softeners, detergents, or at high temperatures.

Your method of storage won’t impact their lifespan. If you notice they start to darken or discolor, it’s time to dispose of them.

  1. Set a 2-Year Time Limit on All Cleaning Solutions

For most cleaning solutions, this is appropriate. Most will lose their effectiveness after that time period – if you don’t use them.

This rule applies to all-purpose cleaners, metal polishes, Lysol, spray air fresheners, floor finishes, window cleaner, and furniture polishes.

  1. And the Exceptions to the Rule…

Of course, the world we live in never has a perfect rule. Antibacterials last about a year. Opened laundry detergent lasts 6 months, while unopened detergent lasts 9 months. Opened floor finishes last about 6 months.

  1. Sounds Like You Need a Chart

It’s hard to keep all these timeframes straight. And if you’re a cleaning pro, you don’t want to accidentally use old cleaner that’s lost its potency!

A simple solution is to make a chart and post it on the wall. Check it every month. If you do that, you’ll keep yourself out of trouble and your customers happy.

Hope that helps you keep your cleaning schedule ship-tight!

What is Soil Wicking? How Do You Deal With It?


Ever had a spot or stain reappear? Soil wicking’s responsible for that. Learn what it is and what to do about it in this post from Carroll Company.

You’ve undoubtedly seen soil wicking before – you just don’t know it. If your carpet has ever had a spot or stain show up again after cleaning, you’ve experienced soil wicking.

You can actually demonstrate how this works to yourself. Just:

  • Fill up a pitcher with water
  • Put a few ounces of coffee or Coke in
  • Put some paper towels in, but only about halfway

You’ll notice the mixture of Coke and water doesn’t just cover the part of the paper towels in the liquid itself. It actually crawls, or “wicks,” its way up the roll of paper towels.

That’s the process known as “wicking.” Eventually, the water evaporates. However, coffee, Coke, dirt, and other liquids filled with sugar don’t. So, they crawl up your carpet fibers and make your stain appear again.

What To Do and What Not To Do

If you use too much chemicals and water, you make this wicking process worse. If your carpet has that unnatural grey or brown tint to it, you’ve used too much cleaning chemicals. And the other reasons the wicking process worsens are generally due to cleaning errors as well. Using too much water, and not properly removing water and chemicals, makes wicking worse. Sometimes, vacuuming isn’t done well enough, either.

Making these mistakes also causes spots and stains to reappear. What happens is the coffee, soda, or other spilled liquid spreads out, mixes with the dirt, and then wicks its way up each carpet fiber.

Whatever you do, never clean a stain or spot by rubbing. That makes it set in more. Always blot the spot. If you don’t have a carpet cleaning machine, you can take a damp towel and stand on the top. If you do have one, you can simply use the hand tool and vacuum over it.

Here are a couple things you can do to clean a spot or stain properly so wicking doesn’t happen:

  1. Use encapsulation cleaning, which doesn’t require much moisture
  2. Clean with absorbent compounds because they have small amounts of water blended in with chemicals

However, with the second scenario, a common mistake made is using too much of the absorbent compound. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Soil wicking is a tough process to prevent. But, follow these tips and you’ll avoid it.

The Ultimate Guide to Carpet Cleaning Mistakes


Avoid these carpet cleaning mistakes and save your business time and money. Learn more from Carroll Company.

Is your cleaning team doing a great job?

Find out by analyzing these top carpet cleaning mistakes and seeing if they make any of them:

1. Using the Wrong Cleaning Agent

Spots and stains should disappear on the first try. If they don’t, there could be many reasons. One of those is using the wrong cleaning agent. Make sure your team uses the right cleaning agent for the job.

Most stains like oil, gum, and paint are best removed with a solvent. Acidic cleaners remove tea, coffee, and water-based stains.

2. Forgetting to Pretest Cleaners

You can’t always be sure how your cleaner will react to your carpet. Your professionals should know to test out the new cleaner on a hard-to-see spot of the carpet.

3. Leaving Too Much Moisture Behind

This happens more often than you think because it’s not always easy to use the right moisture and temperature to clean spots. You’ll know you did this if your team leaves the carpet a gray or brown color. That process is called “wicking,” and the leftover moisture, combined with the residue from cleaning chemicals, attracts more dirt.

4. Cleaning Too Fast

This one sounds fairly basic too, but it can happen to reasonably knowledgeable cleaning professionals. If your carpet is heavily soiled, it may take several passes from an extractor before your carpet is clean like it should be.

5. Cleaning for Maintenance Versus Restoration

If you need to restore your carpet to original condition, that takes a lengthier cleaning process. If you’re just doing maintenance cleaning, that doesn’t take as much time. Make sure you have specific processes in place for both kinds of cleaning.

6. Using Equipment That Does as Much Harm as Good

Many companies use steam cleaners. Unfortunately, these cleaners can actually leave excess amounts of dirty water on your carpet when you’re done cleaning. This makes your carpet vulnerable to damage from mold, and it also has the potential to rot.

Watch out for those 6 mistakes – and you’ll save your business stress, hassle, time, and money.