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Window Cleaning Tips

By: Nationally Syndicated Newspaper Columnist Tim Carter, www.askthebuilder.com

Accckkkk! Many people put off cleaning windows or struggle through it because they make the same mistakes I have made for 47 years. I had it all wrong! Do you want crystal clear windows – just like you see at businesses and commercial buildings? Here is how to achieve it!

Use the Right Tools – You must use the professional squeegees, soap and applicators I have already spoken of. If you don’t, your windows will look like they do now!

A Clean Scrubber – Always start the job with a clean scrubber or lambs wool applicator, sponge and/or porcupine cleaner. A dirty applicator can leave dirt behind. Rinse the scrubber frequently if you are cleaning many windows, especially dirty windows.

Watch the Sun – NEVER wash windows in direct sunlight. The sun can superheat the glass and cause all sorts of streaking problems.

Holding the Squeegee – Hold the squeegee at an angle so the water runs down the glass. In other words, mimic the motion or setting of a snow plow. The blade on a plow aims towards where the snow ends up. If a plow simply aims straight ahead, snow flows out of the plow at both ends. You don’t want water flowing from both ends of the squeegee.

Wipe the Blade – After each squeegee stroke, you must wipe the rubber blade with your lint free cloth. Placing a wet squeegee on the glass will leave a blade mark. You will get good at quickly wiping the blade.

Don’t Cut it Close – Overlap squeegee strokes by about one and one half inches. Remember to angle the squeegee so water flows towards the wet window surface, NOT the area that is clean and dry.

Lots of Water – When first washing the window with the scrubber, use a liberal amount of cleaning water. You want the dirt to come off the window with this solution. Use a decent amount on interior glass surfaces, but not so much as to cause a flood or standing water on woodwork.

Go Sideways – Horizontal squeegee strokes are recommended when at all possible. If you are right handed, the left side of the window pane will have triangles of water left behind with each stroke. You will wipe these at the end with a final vertical stroke going from the top of the pane to the bottom of the pane.

Wipe the Edges – There will always be water marks or spots at the edge of the window pane. After all squeegee action is complete, wipe the entire window edge with the lint free cloth.

Practice First – Practice with the squeegee when you first get it. It may be hard to control. Professionals often use an 18 inch model. You might want to start with a 12 inch squeegee and work your way up to a larger model once you develop good hand/eye coordination.

Summary: Window cleaning like a pro requires proper window cleaning supplies and technique. Getting the dirt off and your windows crystal clear depends on professional squeegees, soap and water, and the right applicators.

10 Top Chemical-Free Cleaning Tips


Article: www.treehugger.com

1. Employ green cleaning products
As the health and environmental impacts of conventional cleaning products become more thoroughly understood, more and more brands of healthy, green, and effective cleaning products have started hitting the market and competing for that coveted place of honor under your sink. Many of these products are non-toxic, biodegradable, and made from renewable resources (not petroleum). But if designer labels aren’t for you, home-mixed cleaners can get the job done and then some. Vinegar and baking soda can be used to clean almost anything. Mix in a little warm water with either of these and you’ve got yourself an all-purpose cleaner.

2. Avoid poor indoor air quality
It is not uncommon for the air inside a home or office to be more toxic than the air outside. This is because of the presence of toxic materials and substances and the fact that homes and buildings are better insulated than ever before (which is a good thing from an energy standpoint). Keeping windows open as often as possible allows fresh air in and keeps toxins flowing out. This is especially important when cleaning your home.

3. Be careful with antibacterial cleaners
The antibacterial and antimicrobial ‘cleaners’ that many people think are necessary, especially during cold season, don’t clean hands better than soap and water, and also add to the risk of breeding “super germs,” bacteria that survive the chemical onslaught and have resistant offspring. The FDA has found that antibacterial soaps and hand cleansers do not work better than regular soap and water, and should be avoided.

4. Help your home smell baking soda-licious
Baking soda not only removes those strange smells coming from your fridge, it’s also a great odor-eliminator for your carpet. Just sprinkle on a little baking soda to soak up some of those odors and then vacuum it up.

5. Clean your indoor air naturally
Skip the store-bought air fresheners and instead try boiling cinnamon, cloves, or any other herbs you have a fondness for. Fresh chocolate chip cookies also have been known to create a friendly aroma. Also, plants may not make your house smell different but are good for filtering interior air–pretty much any broad green leaf plant will do. Peace Lilies are a favorite choice.

6. Toss toxic cleaners carefully
When replacing your cleaning products, don’t just throw the old ones in the trash. If they’re too toxic for your home, they won’t be good for the drain or the landfill either. Many communities hold toxics & electronics recycling days and will take all of these off your hands. Throwing chemicals in the trash or down the drain means they might end up back in your water supply and come back to haunt you (see How to Go Green: Water for more).

7. Avoid conventional dry cleaners
Conventional dry cleaners are the largest users of the industrial solvent called Perchloroethylene, or perc, which is toxic to humans and also creates smog. The two most common green drycleaning methods are carbon dioxide cleaning and Green Earth. Seek out cleaners that use green methods. If you do take clothes to conventional cleaners, be sure to air them outside before wearing them or putting them in the closet.

8. Employ a chemical-free house cleaning service
For people don’t have the time to clean their own homes, fortunately there are an increasing number of chemical-free cleaning services out there to help get things spic and span.

9. Leave the toxins at the door
Imagine what’s on your shoes at the end of the day. Bringing that oil, antifreeze, animal waste, particulate pollution, pollen, and who knows what else into the house is not good news, especially for kids and other critters that spend time on floor level. Keep the sidewalk out of your home with a good doormat or a shoeless house policy. Many buildings now include entryway track-off systems as a means of maintaining a healthy interior environment. Less dirt also means less sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming, which means less work, water, energy, and fewer chemicals.

10. Design with clean in mind
Designing houses and other buildings with cleanability in mind can create spaces that are cleaner, healthier, and require fewer substances to maintain. In larger buildings, good cleanability can also be a big money-saver as cleaning costs can often add up to as much as half of a building’s total energy costs.

TreeHugger is the leading media outlet dedicated to driving sustainability mainstream. Partial to a modern aesthetic, they strive to be a one-stop shop for green news, solutions, and product information.

Green Cleaning: By the Numbers

17,000: the number of petrochemicals available for home use, only 30 percent of which have been tested for exposure to human health and the environment.
63: the number of synthetic chemical products found in the average American home, translating to roughly 10 gallons of harmful chemicals.
100: the number of times higher that indoor air pollution levels can be above outdoor air pollution levels, according to US EPA estimates.
275: the number of active ingredients in antimicrobials that the EPA classifies as pesticides because they are designed to kill microbes.
5 billion: the number of pounds of chemicals that the institutional cleaning industry uses each year.
23: the average gallons of chemicals (that’s 87 liters) that a janitor uses each year, 25 percent of which are hazardous.

Surprise! Five Things You Shouldn’t Recycle


Most of us feel less guilty when we toss something in the bin headed for the recycling plant rather than the landfill. Turns out, though, wishful thinking may do more harm than good. If you include some items that aren’t recyclable, you run the risk of your entire batch being shipped off to the nearest dump.

The best thing you can do is educate yourself about local recycling rules. In the meantime here’s the short list of common items that don’t belong in the recycling bin, no matter what your zip code:

*Pizza boxes. The oil from pizza can contaminate cardboard boxes, making it impossible to process them into clean paper.

*Napkins and paper towels. It’s not the paper goods themselves that present a problem, but the fact that they’re typically used to wipe up food, cleaning products, and other “hazardous waste.”

*Sticky notes. Their size, color, and the adhesive strip make them a better bet for the trash bin.

*Plastic caps. Curbside programs won’t recycle them, but Aveda collects them and turns them into packaging for new products.

*Wet paper. Paper fibers that have been exposed to water are shorter and therefore less valuable to paper mills, making it unprofitable to collect and recycle.

Figuring out which plastics you can recycle is often confusing. It’s generally well known that most curbside programs only take plastics labeled #1 and #2 on the bottom, but many people are shocked to hear that shape sometimes plays a role. For example, many communities don’t accept tubs (mouth wider than base), but will take bottles (base wider than mouth) even if the numbers are the same because these plastics are manufactured differently, says Darby Hoover of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Check in with your local waste or sanitation department to find out what the specific rules are in your area. You can also log onto http://www.earth911.org/ for a wealth of recycling information from helpful articles to its extensive database where you can type in your zip code for a listing of local resources.

Environmental journalist Lori Bongiorno shares green-living tips and product reviews with Yahoo! Green’s users.

Back-to-School Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Prevent waste and save money this school shopping season.

August 6, 2011

As some households gear up for back-to-school, they might be thinking of the three Rs as reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. For this August, I ask that we re-frame the back-to-school mindset with the three Rs of reduce, reuse and recycle.

For families with children going to school, or adults taking classes, getting prepared and buying supplies (sometimes WAY too many supplies) is part of the routine in August. Please take a moment to examine the following tips for a more earth-friendly approach.

Step 1: Take inventory of what you actually possess. Often, the supplies we have can be used again. Is there still life in that backpack, pencil case, or lunch bag? Did you only use 1/3 of that notebook last year? Do you have enough pens/pencils/crayons/glue or do you really need to buy more? If you do need more, is it necessary to get the package of 50 disposable pens or can you switch to three pens with re-fillable ink?

Step 2: Make a list of those items that you really need to get, i.e., the things you can’t start class without. You can always supplement later as you identify needs.

Step 3: Buy only what you need and be mindful about what you are putting in your cart. When possible, purchase items made from recycled materials—preferably post-consumer recycled. By buying recycled products, you are sending a message that you care about what the products are made of. The more people that buy recycled-product items, the greater the demand is and the more items companies will make from recycled materials! Even big-box stores sell paper, pencils, notebooks, binders and more made from recycled content if you look. Of course, remember to bring your re-usable shopping bag into the store!

The summer is a great time to get supplies for bringing your own lunch, whether to school or work. Don’t “brown bag” it! If you’re bringing your lunch, invest in a high-quality insulated lunch bag that you will want to bring with you. Insulated lunch bags come in many fun and interesting styles and designs these days.

If you’re using disposable plastic bags, now is the time to get reusable containers (metal, glass, or BPA-free plastic) or reusable bags. My family uses reusable sandwich and snack bags by brands such as Reuseit, LunchSkins, SnackTAXI, and Waste Not Saks. They are easy to wash and have proven to be incredibly durable after years of use.

Finally, if you do have any supplies that can’t be re-used, do your best to recycle them! By being mindful about your back-to-school shopping, you can do your little part to help the environment.

Submitted by Nadine Kadell Sapirman

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