Posted by: rocknrev | March 29, 2010

You Gotta Love Those Early Cleaning Commercials

One of the chemicals most loved by cleaning people is bathroom cleanser. Doesn’t matter if it’s Ajax or Comet, they both have bleaching agents, abrasives and brighteners in them to make porcelain shine. Problem is, many of the ingredients are listed as toxic by the EPA and do not fit in well with anyone trying to be “green.” Nevertheless, we can look back at a cute commercial produced for Ajax and smile. As you enjoy this little work of art, pay attention to the men’s singing group in the background–they just don’t write jingles like this anymore! I know, some of you are saying hooray!

By the way, if you are looking for a greener way to scrub your toilets, consider a product that been around since 1886, Bon Ami.

So…on to our <a href="“>commercial. You’re sure to get a laugh and a smile while watching this:

Here are samples of Bon Ami.

Bon Ami Original Can
Bon Ami New Can

Posted by: rocknrev | February 23, 2010

Green Cleaning for Health and Our World

Are you tired of hearing the word “green” all the time?  I mean, is this just a trend or is something significant happening in our world right now?  I’m a customer service manager by trade for a medium sized janitorial company in Oregon.  We’re known as the “green state”, but that has to do more with how our state is covered with trees.  The green I’m talking about today is when companies consider their environmental footprint and the impact their choices make on people and the areas where they conduct business.  In our case we’re out there night after night using all kinds of chemicals to clean & disinfect.  We have approximately 100 employees working at night cleaning office buildings, medical facilities, surgi-centers and warehouses.  Chemicals are used to clean glass, counters, toilets, urinals, floors, desks, telephones and the list goes on.

The other hat I wear around here is that of sustainability coordinator.  This has allowed me to help transition our company toward being more mindful about all we use and how we use it.  Since chemicals appeared to be the area where we have the most impact, that’s where I started.  It started six years ago and continues to this day.

Why isn’t this transition completed by now you ask?  Well, one of the many things I have learned is that becoming “green” or “sustainable” is not like a race where you run as fast as you can and then it’s over.  Rather, the path toward sustainability is a journey–your never done–your always looking for how you can do better and have even less of a negative impact on the environment.   This is not my original idea.  I owe a debt of gratitude to one of my suppliers who gently nudged me in this direction when the green movement was just picking up momentum.  Green products for the janitorial industry simply did not exist except for a company up in Wilsonville, Oregon (Coastwide Laboratories) that developed their own line of sustainable products.

This changeover to safer chemicals has reduced costs and has been beneficial to our employees and the clients we serve.  It seems like lots of companies are on the green band wagon but back when I started testing and showing these products to our management team, I got a lot of funny looks.  So, for better or worse, I am known as Mr. Green around here.  I’ve been called other names in my life, but this is one I am proud to own.

My motivation is simple.  I care about the world I live in and I care about the people I share it with.  That’s enough to keep me going on this path.  I always enjoy it when I hear someone call me “Mr. Green”.

Posted by: rocknrev | January 19, 2010

WATER is the #1 NEED in HAITI!

WATER is the #1 NEED in HAITI! It was all over the world news this morning.  Oxfam is on the ground now, but the need is great.   Please donate to their Haiti Earthquake Response Fund today as I have.

Posted by: rocknrev | December 17, 2009


The Pacific Northwest is known for it’s temperate weather and folks who live here often remark that we experience all four seasons fully.   Oregon, where I reside is known for it’s rain.  But make no mistake about it–we have summer days where the temperature is over 100 degrees regularly and droughts are not uncommon.  Last weeks cold snap took many Oregonians off guard with temps dipping down to 9 degrees at night and not getting above 25 degrees for three days.  People who live in the northeast might not give those temps a second thought–they are prepared for that kind of weather.  In Oregon, this type of weather catches many people off guard and when the pipes all over town start bursting, my phone starts ringing off the hook!  Why?  Because the company that employees me has several trucks that can come and suck up water.   They are normally used to clean carpets in commercial buildings and residences, but the same equipment that allows us to clean carpets can be used to help re-mediate a flood when a water pipe bursts due to freezing.  It was a crazy stressful time with ALL HANDS ON DECK to try and take care of as many customers as possible.

This isn’t the first time a cold snap has caught us off-guard.  Seems like we get one or two of these most years.  But with that temperate climate we enjoy most of the year comes a bit of complacency so when one of them does hit, you can hear a lot of folks singin’ the blues.

Things are pretty much back to normal now.  As soon as the cold snap left our region, the rains came back and now we’re in our comfort zone.  Gutters and storm drains are full of water band all the plumbers in town will be busy for another week or two buttoning up all those “connections” that failed when mother nature sent us her chilling surprise.  A few people will be better prepared for the next cold wave but most of us will settle in and sing the blues when the next one hits our area.

Is there a point to my rant?  Maybe…maybe not.  I just wanted to let everyone know we sing the blues our here in the wild west every so often, but we wouldn’t trade places with people in other parts of the country for anything.  There’s a reason why we are a green state and a reason why we have lots of ducks.   We’ve got the feathered type and then there’s those Oregon Ducks…you know…the ones headed for the Rose Bowl on January 1st, 1010.   That’s a day when a different group of people might be found “singin’ the blues!  Oh yeah, “GO DUCKS!”

Posted by: rocknrev | November 12, 2009

Going Green and People’s Expectations – There is Hope

I’ve always been concerned for the environment and what individuals and companies can do to help keep our world a healthy safe place to live and work. My awareness came about while attending college from 1969-1973 in Portland, Oregon at Lewis & Clark College. Fast forward thirty years and I find myself working for a large established janitorial company, starting off as an administrative assistant and being promoted to customer service manager some years later. Janitorial companies use a lot of chemicals. There are cleaning chemicals, chemicals to disinfect, strip old wax off floors, degreasers, polishes, floor finish, carpet cleaning chemicals–as I said, our type of business uses a lot of chemicals seven days a week.

Most of these products were developed over time for primarily one purpose–find a formula that will do the best job in the least amount of time. As a result of that thinking, there are a lot of products that do a great job for their intended purpose with little thought or concern about the end-users–those using the chemicals and those who work in the spaces where they were used. When a product label advises you to wear protective gear and provide lots of ventilation, there’s a good chance it’s a product not very friendly to people or our planet.

So along comes the “Green” revolution where chemists attempt to make products safe for humans and for the planet. Quite a challenge indeed, and a lot of them have been quite successful. Like most movements, there are the skeptics who think all this concern is a big waste of time and money. There are others who stand on the other end of the spectrum who take great steps toward eliminating anything deemed harmful in their domain and who recycle every little scrap of paper they can get their hands on. There is also another group who want to jump on the bandwagon of the green trend as long as everything is just as clean and bright as it was before. This is a tough group to please. They are often the ones who believe for something to be clean and sanitary, it must be white and bright. They tend to want everything they use made from paper bleached white by chemicals not so friendly. They doubt whether a brown paper towel can be just as safe as one white as snow.

The truth is, if we are going to be successful at making our environment safe for ourselves and for future generations, some compromise in inevitable. It does not mean we need to sacrifice our personal safety from germs and bacterial contamination. Many of the new green product formulations do a good verifiable job of remediating pathogens while keeping surfaces clean. Some of them may require an added dose of “elbow grease” to get the job done and it may mean learning to use paper products like paper towels or toilet paper that are not snow-white and not so softened by more harsh chemicals so they don’t irritate our sensitive skin. It’s taken us a while to become this spoiled and pampered and it will take us a while to unlearn these selfish behaviors as we readjust our sights toward a balanced approach of a lessened negative impact on our fellow-man and on the earth.

There is hope! Our awareness of how our daily choices impact others and our surroundings is on the increase. As we learn what it means to live a more sustainable lifestyle, we also learn that millions on tiny choices by individuals add up to significant change. I encourage you to be a part of the solution by educating yourself and taking steps to lessen your impact on people and the planet. Learning how to live a sustainable lifestyle is more of a journey than a destination. Let’s work together toward positive change that benefits us all.

Posted by: rocknrev | November 6, 2009

Let There Be Light and Let it be the Correct Color

Lights come in many shapes and sizes, and emit various colors. The easiest way to understand how color works with lights is to picture in your mind a STANDARD incandescent light bulb. If you are picturing the correct light, it’s a little yellowish in color isn’t it? That light’s color is described by a “temperature” number, 2700K. It is not necessary to understand all the science behind the number. Just remember that any light regardless of size or shape will be the similar in color if it is rated as 2700K. The yellow color is a result of there being a high amount of red in the lights spectrum.

The popular COOL WHITE light bulb actually has a littler more blue in its spectrum, so it is sometimes referred to as BLUE WHITE and has a color number between 3500K to 4100K. This is probably the most common light color we use in the United States. I know there is one company that sells their regular light bulbs in yellow boxes while their cool white lights are sold in white boxes–an easy way to pick the correct bulb at the grocery or variety store.

Some people like even brighter lights that have a color rating of 5000K. If you are following the pattern developing here, you’ve already figured out that the higher the color number—the whiter and brighter the light! So-called “Daylight” bulbs are usually rated around 6500K and will strain most peoples eyes if looked at directly.

Warmer colors in the 2700K-3300K tend to have a relaxing effect while “cool” colors in the 4100K and above range are helpful in office situations and facilitate better concentration for the end-user. Of course, all these numbers and how we perceive them are somewhat arbitrary. The lighting industry uses a CRI rating (Color Rendering Index) which is a way to measure how a light will reproduce the colors of various objects accurately. A CRI rating of 100 would be considered more or less perfect and would reproduce colors very close to a natural light source like the sun. The higher the number then, the more accurate colors will appear. Artists and photographers would be a couple of examples of professionals that would want high CRI lighting for their work.

Unfortunately, the way various manufacturers design their code numbers is not universal. In most cases the color of the bulb will appear near the end of the light’s code stamped on the bulb or it’s metal base. To complicate things further, manufacturers tend to drop some or all of the zeros. So, you’ll sometimes see a number like “741” in the code and it’s the “41” that tips you off that it is a 4100K bulb. A code ending with 850 is really a bulb with the 5000K brightness. In most cases with a little practice, you’ll be able to see how the light color system works. The leading number “7” or “8” most often gives you a hint of the bulbs CRI rating. Again, the higher the number the truer that bulb will render colors.

You may find this information useful in your personal life when you go to the store to buy lights. Next time you go to the store, spend a few minutes looking at the codes. You’ll know better ahead of time just what color and how bright a light you are purchasing will be. If you have a burnt out bulb you want to replace, be sure to write the code number down so when you are shopping, you make sure the bulb you buy is the same color as the dead bulb back home.

It is OK to share and reproduce this information as long as you referance my blog.

No names will be mentioned.  Just take it from me, “some” medical practices have trimmed janitorial services during this economic recession and they are not always being thoroughly cleaned each night.  I don’t know about you, but the idea of being examined and/or treated in a medical office that wasn’t cleaned last night kind of bothers me.  I’m pretty sure the staff in many of these “cut-back” offices are supplementing the lack of cleaning with their own disinfecting efforts.  But unless the staff is putting in several hours of cleaning after they have put in a full day of medical work, it seems doubtful there would be enough done to truly have all used surfaces cleaned and disinfected.   This has been one of the big surprises to me during this economic slowdown.   I wonder if the medical office you might visit has made cuts to their cleaning service?  With all the worries regarding the N1H1 virus circulating around the country, this recent trend in reducing nightly cleaning concerns me.  It might concern you too.

And while I’m at it, there’s a couple more things about how many medical facilities are cleaned I’d like to mention.   You may not have thought about this either, but what about that cleaning person who comes in at night and makes everything clean and safe–do “they” have health insurance coverage?  Chances are good they do not.  Ironic, eh?  The very people who clean medical offices and large facilities often have no access to the very practices they clean. I find that very ironic and I find it quite sad.

Another trend I see all the time is decision-makers selecting the lowest bid they can get.  Makes sense, no need to pay more for having your office cleaned than necessary, right?   Well, the janitorial business is quite competitive.   There just isn’t much wiggle room if a cleaning service with a real office, vehicles, equipment and payroll expenses is trying to secure a cleaning contract.  So the best way to keep your operation lean besides being efficient is to offer low wages to employees and offer few if any benefits.  Many of the people seeking these jobs are desperate.  They are often difficult to employ for a variety of reasons.  Lack of education,  poor communication skills, physical or psychological disabilities, or illegal aliens  trying to enter the U.S. labor pool.

Some things to think about next time you visit your doctor.

Posted by: rocknrev | October 27, 2009

Where is that Bad Odor Coming From?

I had a good customer complain that our company was not doing a very good job of cleaning a certain cubicle in their office.  There was bad odor emanating from this cubicle that was bothering others in the office.  I remember asking the supervisor to do a check-out of the situation but he came up empty-handed.  We took the person’s waste basket and washed it.  We vacuumed the carpet as well as possible and used a good disinfectant on all the surfaces–but the bad odor would not go away.  Was this body odor from the person working in that area?  Was it malodor (read “farts”) coming from the person?  We even took a small carpet extractor and cleaned the carpet but still the odor would not go away.

I spend most of my time at a computer.  Most of my customers are accustomed to firing me an email and getting an immediate response.  But, sometimes you gotta get out of your chair and play the role of CSI.  I mean, the odor has to be coming from somewhere.  Fortunately the day I visited this office, the person whop occupied that cubicle was out of the office so I was able to do my investigation unimpeded.  I got down on my belly smelling the carpet (wonderful job, eh?) trying to find some trace in the carpet.

I kept sniffing around and was drawn to the corner of the cubicle.  Nothing behind a file cabinet resting there so I opened the drawers and sure enough, back behind one of the drawers was a half-eaten orange that had fallen and had become wedged.   Problem solved.  You should have seen the look on the faces of the folks in the adjacent cubicles.  The office manager was happy too.  He had grown tired of all the complaints.  I sat the orange on the hood of my car back at the office and snapped a picture.  That little orange has caused a lot of ruckus and my customer was grateful I found the culprit.  Here’s that picture for your enjoyment.


Rotton Orange Found in File Drawer

Posted by: rocknrev | October 23, 2009

Tips on Keeping Your Vacuum in Top Condition

Whether it’s at home or at the office, the vacuum cleaner is one of the most commonly used pieces of cleaning equipment.  A properly maintained vacuum will do a better job of removing floor debris, and is less likely to contribute to poor indoor air quality or cause damage to floors and carpets.  These tips apply to upright vacuums while some of them apply to the back-pack type vacuums used in schools and commercial buildings.

1)  CLEAN THE ROLLER BRUSH:  The stiff-bristled roller brush on most upright vacuums is designed to provide that all important “agitation” so dirt & debris are loosened from the carpet fibers and more easily picked up.  Over time, the roller brush can get covered with things like hair, small threads, rubber bands & other debris.  This will hamper the vacuums’ ability to do it’s job.  It’s good practice to do a visual inspection of the roller brush before you begin vacuuming, to make sure it is free of this debris so your efforts will pay off with a clean carpet once you are done.  Be sure to do this when the vacuum is unplugged for safety reasons.   A pair of scissors will sometimes help, especially if a lot of hair has wound itself around the roller brush.   Use the scissors to cut the hair into shorter lengths.  You’ll find it much easier then to remove the hair by hand.  You’ll see and feel the difference immediately as the vacuum is able to agitate better and remove more dirt.  The roller bar brushes also wear down over time, so at some point it may need to be replaced.  Your local vacuum repair shop can supply you with a replacement brush.

2)  CHECK THE DRIVE BELT:  The best time to check your drive belt is when you are cleaning the roller brush. This belt is connected to the vacuum motor and makes the roller brush turn, so dust and debris are thrown back into the machine.  The drive belt should be smooth with no cracks or partial breaks.  Most people can change the belt themselves and replacement belts can be purchased at most vacuum repair shops.

3) EMPTY THE COLLECTION BAG BEFORE IT GETS FULL: Although it is tempting to keep vacuuming until your collection bag is full, you’ll get better results if you change it when it’s only 3/4 of the way full.  If you use a “bagless” vacuum, it’s still a good idea to empty the chamber before it is full.  In both cases, this will help you have full suction so more dirt and debris is picked up.

4)  THE PROPER DISCONNECT:   it is common but dangerous to get in a hurry and unplug your vacuum by yanking on the cord instead of holding the plug and pulling it out correctly.  Yanking on the cord can easily damage the plug and can damage the electrical outlet.  Play it safe and take the time to walk to the electrical outlet and disconnect the cord by holding the plug.

Vacuum designs vary a lot in the marketplace but most of them incorporate basic shared components.  It’s a good idea to take a little time to get to know this important piece of equipment so it will serve you well.  When purchasing a new vacuum, I recommend you do a little research before buying one.  A great source for this information can be found on the Internet. I like Consumer Reports.  They test vacuums regularly and publish their findings on the Internet at

Posted by: rocknrev | October 22, 2009

How Carpet gets Soiled and Some Tips on Keeping them Clean

Soiling is a natural process we might define as “a substance in the wrong place.”  There are basically three ways carpet becomes soiled and each has it’s own cause and remedy.  Paying attention to how your carpet becomes dirty will help you decide on what measures to take to prevent soiling or at least minimize it:

DIRECT SOILING:  usually a food or beverage spill, but includes airborne grease from kitchens or environmental pollution from outside brought in by windows, doors & HVAC.

REMEDY?  Well, short of being extra careful when carrying food or beverage, your best defense is to deal with spills the moment they happen or as soon as possible.   THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO IS TO GET AS MUCH LIQUID OUR OF THE CARPET AS POSSIBLE!  An easy way to do this is to place several layers of paper towels or clean cotton rags directly on top the spill.  Use your body weight to stand on the towels. This will draw the liquid up out of the carpet.  You may have to do this more than once especially if it was a large spill–some of that liquid will get into the carpet pad below the actual carpet.  It would be nice to say you are done now, but if you can wait an hour or so and repeat this process, you’ll probably find that more of that liquid has “wicked” it way to the top of the carpet. When the towels no longer get wet from you standing on them, it’s time to call a carpet professional so have the area deep-cleaned.  There is always a temptation to use that spray can of carpet spotter you use at home or to grab whatever cleaning chemical is close at hand but it’s really best to have it professionally cleaned.  make sure to tell the person cleaning the area WHAT liquid was spilled if you know–carpet professionals have a wide variety of cleaning chemicals made to remove specific types of stains.

TRANSFER OF SOIL:  This is when dirt is transferred from a soiled surface or object to one that is cleaner.  Good examples would be dirty/muddy shoes and hand-truck or wheelchair wheels.

REMEDY?  Your best defense in keeping dirt out of your  office or building is to have high quality walk-off mats that remove dirt before it gets inside.   It’s also good practice to have your entry and lobby areas vacuumed well as often as possible.  Doing this will help keep dirt from being transferred to other areas.   I’ve had great sucess getting building owners to install walk-off mat carpeting in their elevators as well.  Elevators are notorious fro helping dirt and debris move to upper floors.  If you have elevators in your building, be sure they are vacuumed often as well.

ELECTROSTATIC SOILING:  This happens when electrostatically charged carpet fibers attract airborne particles.

REMEDY?  Keep exterior windows & doors closed to minimize particles entering the building.  Also make sure the vacuum you use has a good filtration system so those dirt particles end up in the vacuum bag—not in the air where they can be attracted to the carpet fibers.

Finally…don’t wait too long between having all your carpet cleaned by a professional at least once per year.  High traffic areas may need more frequent cleaning.  Keeping your carpets nice and clean will extend the life of your carpet and help keep dirt and debris from.

Older Posts »