Tag: cleaning knowledge

Is it clean?

Is it clean?

Imagine you and your team just spent an entire day cleaning the windows of one of the skyscrapers in Philadelphia and upon review of your work, you see that they are all streaky. Even if they don’t look great, are they at least clean?

The fact is, if a surface is left with streaks after being scrubbed with chemicals, it is not clean. Streaks occur because of one of the following reasons: there is either a. too much chemical used, or, b. too little chemical used, or, c. the wrong chemical is used.  When any of these three things happen, there is going to be a streaky mess. Let’s delve deeper into why these errors lead to unclean surfaces and how to avoid making a bigger mess.

  1. Too much chemical is used

When it comes to standard cleaning chemicals, you rarely need to use more chemical than what is suggested by the manufacturer in any application. There is a common misconception that more is better when working with chemicals but it is actually the opposite.  Too much chemical will leave a residue behind on the surface cleaned because the wiper will not be able to pick up all of the liquid. This results in a film of combined leftover chemical and dirt. This is what you see when you see streaks left by using too much cleaning chemical.

  1. Too little chemical is used

The opposite of using too much chemical is using too little. This can be equally problematic. When using too little cleaning chemical, there is not enough of the chemical compound on the surface to properly breakdown the soils and remove them. This results in the chemical basic moistening the soils, moving them around and then leaving them on the surface. You then see streaks on the surface you just tried cleaning.

The best way to avoid making mistakes A and B is to carefully read the instructions that come with the chemical used. Follow proper dilution rates and when spraying surfaces with chemical, be sure to wet the surface without over-saturating it. If you are concerned about chemical use and want to reduce waste, you may want to look into alternative wipers. Different wipers can use less chemical more effectively. For example, microfiber cloths can use little to no chemical to clean a surface (please note that we are not talking about disinfection in this article). The design of microfiber cloths makes them absorb liquid and grab soils easily.

  1. The wrong chemical is used

While there are some multi-purpose cleaners on the market, most cleaners are designed for fairly specific soils and/or surfaces. Chemicals work because they alter the chemical make-up of soils to break them down and suspend them in liquid, making it easy to wipe them away. If you do not have the right chemical to make the right alterations to the soil, your cleaning efforts will not be successful.

Keeping your business clean

Luckily, it is fairly easy to get back on track if you find that your surface cleaning has been ineffective lately. First, make sure you are using the right chemical. If you aren’t sure, review the product information; you can find most of our product information here.  If you have the right chemical, just review how much should be used and what kind of wiper you need.

If you have any questions regarding your current cleaning plan and the chemicals you are using, you are also always welcome to call your Penn Valley sales representative or email me at Katie@pennvalley.com. We want to help you keep your business clean.

Cleaning vs. Disinfecting vs. Sanitizing

Cleaning vs. Disinfecting vs. Sanitizing

Many people use the words cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing interchangeably. I know I used to be guilty of this particular faux pas. The only reason I learned the difference is because in our industry, it is downright dangerous to mistake any one of these words for another one. Each one of these actions has a different end result and in facilities and maintenance, you need to know what you are trying to accomplish in order to start the proper process.


Cleaning refers to the physical removal of dirt and grime from a surface. This is usually done with water and some kind of detergent or general cleaning agent.  When someone is finished cleaning a surface, it will be visibly clean—you will not see chunks of dirt, messy streaks or any lingering residue from the cleaning process. It is also important to note that cleaning is the first step to disinfecting or sanitizing a surface. If a surface is not cleaned of physical dirt and dust, it will be practically impossible to kill the germs on the same surface.


Disinfecting refers to the process of killing mass amounts of bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc. on a particular surface. When a surface is properly disinfected, the germs on that surface are killed and unable to do more damage. Please note that once a surface is contaminated again, it will need to be disinfected again. In order to properly disinfect a surface, it is important to follow the directions for the chemical as outlined by the manufacturer. Many people don’t realize that many disinfectants need a dwell time of 10+ minutes or that only certain wipers can properly pick up the chemical from the surface in question.  Disinfection is a process that needs to be done by the book in order to be effective.


Similar to disinfecting, sanitizing also refers to killing bacteria, viruses and fungi. However, during the sanitizing process, far fewer germs are killed. The point of sanitizing a surface is to make it safe for users in a short period of time. While disinfection takes 10 minutes or so, sanitizing can happen in as little as 30 seconds. Sanitizing lowers the number of bacteria or germs on a surface to a safe amount but it doesn’t make the surface uninhabitable for these microorganisms.  This is an ideal process for restaurants and other food service venues that need to quickly get rid of germs but need to keep moving.

If you are unsure of which process you need in your site or don’t know which chemicals in your arsenal will work best for what you need to accomplish, please feel free to email me at Katie@pennvalley.com or check out our training library www.pennvalley.com/training-library for helpful tips and information. We like keeping your business clean (and disinfected and sanitized too)!