Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Six Tips for Picking Equipment that Lowers the Cost to Clean

Your workers represent the largest share of the total cost to clean—90% or more according to recent studies.* So supplying them with more productive equipment can go a long way toward reducing their cleaning time and thus lowering your total costs. 

Here are some features to look for next time you’re in the market for new cleaning equipment:

Take a wider path
It stands to reason that the wider the scrubbing or sweeping path your cleaning crews have to take, the fewer passes they’ll need to do the job—and there’s often little difference in total price between machines. For example, assuming a loaded labor rate of $9/hr, the hourly cost to clean a 1,000 sq ft surface would be about $3.44/hr for a 17” scrubber vs. $2.39/hr for a 20” scrubber. And the difference in total price between the two cleaning solutions may only be $50 to $100.

Go tools free
It’s often one of those under-appreciated features that can get lost in the heat of the sales demo, but “tools free” maintenance can save your workers a lot of time changing out accessories, replacing worn parts and making needed adjustments over the life of your machines. And those minutes can add up to real money. Plus, by allowing fast and easy equipment changeouts, they can allow your workers to clean different surfaces with a single machine.

Recharge on the go
Battery-powered automatic scrubbers, burnishers and carpet extractors have been productivity boosters for years. But when the batteries die, the cleaning stops cold. And workers often have to lug the machines to a far-away charging station. On-board chargers allow your workers to recharge right where they are, cutting downtime and maximizing efficiency.

Cut the noise and clean all day
Nobody likes a loudmouth, and that goes for your cleaning equipment as well. Low-decibel vacuums and ride-on scrubbers with built-in sound attenuation allow your workers to clean during business hours, while protecting them from the fatigue and irritation that noise can cause.

Use less water
Water is a mixed blessing in the cleaning world. It’s absolutely necessary for a scrubber or extractor to get its job done, but using too much of it can put a double-pronged damper on cleaning productivity: 1) workers have to stop cleaning more often to refill their tanks, and 2) drying time takes areas out of service longer. Machines designed to minimize water usage—with no drop-off in cleaning power—can help keep your cleaners cleaning longer.

Get a bigger tank
The dump-and-fill cycle can be one of the biggest drags on overall cleaning productivity. A larger tank can have a direct and dramatic effect on the equation. But there are tradeoffs. Larger tanks usually mean larger machines, which means you can lose some maneuverability. But anything you can do to cut the number of times your workers need to refill water tanks is a net boost to efficiency. Productivity-boosting features are built-in to a wide range of cleaning equipment, but sometimes you have to do a little math to really appreciate how much they can cut the long-term cost of cleaning.

*Source: International Sanitary Supply Association - ISSA

Monday, August 8, 2016

Building Restoration: If Floors Could Talk

If floors could talk…
A look back on the history and the future of floor restoration.

Gone are the days when floor restoration teams were set with a hatchet hammer, sandpaper and wax. In the early 1900s, if you could drive 38 nails a minute, you were hired, but considered slow. Today, you can size up a facility floor-restoration project with an infrared smartphone, and select from ergonomically designed power tools matched to the precise needs of the job.

As Clarke® celebrates its 100th year on the job providing a True Blue Clean, we thought it fitting to take a quick peek at the past and future of floor care and restoration.

Great Expectations
Wood, tile, concrete -- each require a different approach, and on top of that, they may be coated with anything from anti-slip to high-gloss treatments. Although the physical work has gotten easier, advances in flooring materials, tools, cleaning agents and regulations have added complexity to the work that hands-on craftspeople love to do.

Another way that restoration has changed over time is that the more we learn about allergens, dust, mold and toxins, the more we depend on facility managers and janitors to keep us well.  An interest in eco-friendly and LEED-certified materials is also on the rise.

All You Have You Owe to Carpet
According to Hardwood Floors Magazine, floor care and restoration leaped forward with the advent of carpeting. Seen as a rescue from the tedious work of waxing floors,
its popularity soared in the 1960s -- running wood flooring factories out of business.

The outcome was that a whole new industry was born. In search of new sources of income, displaced wood workers began to make a point of offering their services to victims of fire, even watching the news for tips on who might be in need. By the time the wood floor industry saw signs of recovery, so many workers had left that new workers had to be trained -- fast. This sparked the development of training programs and trade associations as the industry became more complex.

Aging Buildings Hide Treasure
Thanks to the construction booms of the 1920s and 1940s we now have aging buildings in need of restoration. This raises a number of issues, for instance:

      Will a neglected, grime covered floor be damaged in the process of polishing it for the first time in decades?
      Are original materials still available?
      Will contemporary materials have the same look as the old -- many of which are now banned due to lead or other toxins.
      What if no color photos are available from the building’s original use?

These are questions that came up as a part of the St. Paul, Minn. historic Union Depot’s restoration of 2012. As you can see here, the outcome is stunning. 

Next Up?
Based on highlights of an industry convention coming up in Sept. 2016, The Experience, you’re likely to see new smartphone-based tools designed to take environmental readings of salt, dust, humidity, rain, vibration, solar radiation and thermal shock resistance. As capability expands, training may become more specialized. Trade associations such as the Restoration Industry Association seem to be ready to help workers stay informed.

Restoring floors is one thing; cleaning them is another. This October, visit Clarke at the ISSA/INTERCLEAN® One Show in Chicago to show you how it’s done right. Hope to see you there.


Wahlgren, Kim. “The History of the Wood Flooring Industry.” HardwoodFloorsMag.com 31 Dec. 1999

Union Depot
(Flooring story begins at 3:00 mark)

Smartphone app

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Back to school cleaning challenges in schools and busy hallways

As the summer winds down, it’s time to plan ahead for the challenges that come with a new school year. Keeping a learning environment clean has its own set of challenges. Clarke is working hard this year to bring you reliable cleaning equipment to meet your daily cleaning demands day-in and day-out.

Here’s some ways to kick off the new school year and get a True Blue Clean:
1. Do more with less. Keep it cleaner and safer for staff and students.

We know you face tight budgets, staff shortages and equipment breakdowns. Plan ahead by reviewing your cleaning programs and equipment inventory with your cleaning crew. This could be the year to try new cleaning solutions designed to boost productivity and provide a cleaner clean every time. Read more >

See the solutions Clarke® has to offer and request a demo: http://www.clarkeus.com/trueblue/

2. Bring in green cleaning ideas for busy learning environments that can help everybody feel good.

Even if it’s not a major focus for your facilities maintenance program, adopting green cleaning practices early on will protect student and staff health and support a more sustainable future.

Find out what laws and programs are working so far in the global green schools movement. Read more > Green Cleaning Initiatives for HealthierSchools: Promoting Student Health And Sustainable Cleaning

3. Implement best practices to keep education environments clean and lower absenteeism. 

You can learn more about cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting best practices in the NEA Healthy Futures video series, “Clean Schools, Healthy Schools.” Read more > Clean Schools: Help KeepYour Students, Staff, and Building Healthy

Provide your crew with cleaning tools and technology they can count on to overcome those everyday challenges.

Clarke MA10™ 12E: The scrubber that cleans those hard-to-reach spaces the first time so you know germs and dirt are gone for good.
If you’re looking for a machine to replace the traditional mop and bucket and bring your cleaning into the 21st Century, then look no further than the Clarke MA10™ 12E Upright Scrubber. Find out more >

BOOST® scrubber technology can help you reach a true blue clean in education and healthcare environments.
Reduce the chemicals, water and time spent using smart and reliable cleaning tools. Watch video to learn more >

The new SA40™ stand-on scrubber makes daytime cleaning possible.
By providing a quiet mode option with sound levels lower than competitive machines, the Clarke SA40™ scrubber overcomes the challenges of cleaning busy hallways and aisles. Download a brochure now >

Related Stories:

Cleaner Learning
According to ISSA, students miss 38 million school days each year due to influenza. And when students get sick, teachers and staff do, too. The cost of these absences is steep, both socially and economically. Read more:

Quiet Cleaning
With more and more facilities going to daytime cleaning, maintenance staff is expected to clean quietly and blend in to busy environments. To do this effectively you need the right tool, and if the right tool makes you feel like a Ghostbuster, all the better! Read more:

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

When cleaning budgets are tight, you need strong floor cleaning equipment.

Reliable floor-cleaning equipment that gets the job done right the first time can help cut your facility's cost to clean. 

 Shrinking budgets have become a harsh reality for many facilities. Usually, when belts tighten, everything is put under review, and there are bound to be financial cuts. This means there isn’t always the time or money available to deal with unreliable or ineffective cleaning equipment. When it comes to getting the most out of your cost to clean, every job should be done quickly and effectively, leaving more time to complete other tasks.

When Anchorage, AK, school district manager, Don Hargraves, was faced with significant cuts, everyone got together to help make it work. Our workers responded positively. They stepped up their game, and I’m very proud of them. I think our buildings are maintained to a very high standard today. When I hear, on a national basis, news reports of how some school buildings are falling into disrepair, that is not happening in the Anchorage School District. We have some beautiful facilities. They’re clean, and they’re safe. They’re great places for kids to go, and we don’t have to worry about kids getting sick.”

Shrinking budgets like the ones faced in Anchorage are why facility managers everywhere constantly search for ways to save money. Floor cleaning equipment, however, is a vital part of most cleaning programs, so you need to make sure you’re getting the best possible value by taking every possible concern into consideration. 

Clean should be seen, not heard.

There are economic advantages to daytime cleaning, but in order to have an effective daytime-cleaning program, a machine with an acceptable sound level is imperative. With quiet-running floor cleaning equipment, operators can work without disturbing those going about their business during regular work hours, and they can do so under natural light and better visibility. This eliminates the need for potentially costly artificial lighting your maintenance staff would need for nighttime cleaning, saving money and energy.

Reduce chemical usage.

Most facility managers are open to ideas for cutting back on chemicals. Cleaning equipment that is capable of adjustable solution flow are ideal for this very thing. The ability to avoid using chemicals in areas that simply don’t need them, or don’t need as much, not only saves money, but also helps minimize the environmental impact and health risks that can come with chemical use.

Find the right floor machine.

All too often, facilities end up using floor cleaning equipment that isn’t meant to perform for the application. It’s simple: if a big facility is using a small machine, the amount of time and energy required for effective cleaning increases. If a small facility uses a big machine that can’t fit into small spaces, requiring more hand cleaning, floor scrubbing can become more of a chore than it needs to be. So, taking the time to make sure you’ve got the machine with the right level of performance can pay off big in the long run.

Fortunately, there’s a trusted, durable and reliable brand of floor machines that covers nearly every floor cleaning need for every type of facility, making life easier for budget-conscious facility managers and their hard-working cleaning staff. To get a free demo at your facility, visit ClarkeUS.com/TrueBlue. 


The Anchorage, AK, school district faced serious budget cuts, yet the expectations for cleanliness remained high. (link)

Sometimes cleaning chemicals can do more harm than good. (link)

Choosing the right cleaning equipment for your facility can end up saving time and money. (link)

Friday, March 4, 2016

To Clean Highly Congested Areas, You Need the Right Tool

With more facilities moving away from overnight cleaning and turning to daytime cleaning, this can have both positive and negative effects for building service and janitorial staffs. Sure you don’t have to work the long overnight hours and you can spend more time with your family, but you also have to deal with the added congestion of facility staff and clientele. While the staff and clientele understand the need for a clean facility and appreciate the staff that does it, they don’t appreciate the noise of a traditional upright vacuum when they are trying to tend to the business at hand. How many times has building service staff heard, “Can you possibly come back and do that later,” when they are trying to complete their work?  Not to mention the hassle of trying to maneuver a traditional upright vacuum in a high traffic area, it can be challenging. It makes the task longer and less efficient. So what to do? Do you give up on daytime cleaning and all of its perks or do you find another solution? If you answered find another solution, then you’ve come to the right place! Ditch that traditional upright vacuum for the compact elegance of the Comfort Pak Vac.

Why is the Comfort Pak Vac better for high congestion areas?

Instead of a traditional upright vacuum it is a back pack vacuum, so no more difficulty trying to maneuver through crowds. It is comfortable, lightweight and once on moves as one with your body. Since it is fully adjustable to various heights and sizes, anyone on your staff can use it comfortably. There is also a premium shoulder kit with more shoulder padding for extra comfort (all exclusive to the Comfort Pak). You also get a cool utility belt with a cord clip where you can store the brush and crevice tool. The vacuum hose locks in place on the cover so it won’t fall out when the unit is in use and allows you to pick it up by the hose without it disconnecting and crashing your unit to the floor. Plus, the exhaust port is located at the rear bottom and vents the air up and away; which means in a less congested environment you can set it down and use it like a canister vacuum without fear of it over heating, so in a sense it is basically a two-in-one vacuum.

That sounds great, but what about the motor noise issue?

When turned on the motor ramps up slowly causing less disturbances and annoyed side-long glances in your direction. Once it is running it is the quietest unit in its class with a sound level of 62 dB A (also all exclusive to the Comfort Pak), which is slightly less than normal speech at a distance of 3-feet. Equipped with a 1,300 watt motor that is optimal for dirt, dust and sand removal from carpets; you will wonder how such a powerful vacuum could be so quiet.

Is it "green?"

Absolutely, it has the CRI Seal of Approval and an optional HEPA cartridge to help improve air door air quality. Not to mention, a sealable dust bag that will prevent unwanted dust and debris from puffing up into your face when you change the bag (another Comfort Pak exclusive).

Whether you think this all sounds good or too good to be true, contact one of our dealers and try it out for yourself. Once you have it on your back and take it for a test run, you'll wonder how you ever vacuumed without it.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Stealing the Show in Las Vegas

Looking back at ISSA Interclean 2015

With over 16,000 suppliers, exhibitors and cleaning experts packed into the world's largest trade show floor in the cleaning industry, Las Vegas was the center of the cleaning world from Oct 20-23. It was the perfect venue to unveil one of the most innovative Clarke floor machines in a long time. 

The Clarke FM40 LX Floor Machine:
Compact Power. Versatile Performance.

 Even though the FM40 is a compact machine, show attendees saw how the quiet-running 1.5-hp motor along with a low-vibration 3,540-RPM pad driver packs a major punch. Add 160lbs of down-pressure and the FM40 can clean more in fewer passes, reducing both your cost-to-clean and strain on your operators. The Clarke FM40 is designed to save hours of manual labor, but perhaps its best feature is how it can be quickly broken down into easy-to-lift pieces for simple transport between jobs.

At Clarke we’re always looking for new innovations that can help cut cleaning costs and make your job easier. Learn more about Clarke and see our entire line of legendary floor machines at ClarkeUS.com.