I was asked by cleaning industry leaders to give a state of our industry talk on a virtual summit. I completed the talk today and thought some of the takeaways would be useful for my own community.
COVID-19 has raised the bar in our industry. Prior to COVID, the typical house or office cleaner had no governing body to report to other than the Departments of Labor and Taxation. There was also no formal licensing requirement in our state, nor was there an obligation for cleaning providers to be insured against liability. Cleaners had the right and freedom to self-select their own standards of excellence. Thus, the industry has been flooded with uninsured, unskilled, and unprotected cleaners.
During COVID, the Department of Health and Governor Wolf threw their hats in the game by qualifying our industry as "essential" under personal services to home and small business owners. By allowing our industry to operate when others could not, a microscope was placed on each of us. The post-COVID client is ultra concerned about germs and containing them. They want to minimize the spread of the virus and other pathogens. They want cleaning companies that are fully insured, fully protected, and implementing a COVID-19 disinfecting protocol.
Therefore, the leaders in my industry believe that cleaning company owners will start making the shift from teams to solo cleaners in your homes and offices. This is a WIN-WIN for the client and the company. The company achieves more efficiency and higher profits with solo cleaners for their clients. They are also providing safety measures to protect their cleaners and train them in the science of cleaning & disinfecting to better service their clients. The clients get the same single cleaner in their home EVERY time. They will never wonder who will clean, how many cleaners will be in their home or office, where they've been, and who they've been in contact since the last visit.
As you bring your cleaning services back to your homes and offices or as you screen companies to hire, please keep these trends in mind. The government is still NOT regulating us. However, there will be many companies reported and I personally believe that many of the cleaners I mentioned above with low standards of excellence and safety will be shaken out. This is a good thing as it gives you, the consumer, more trust when you search for a cleaning service to know that if they're still standing, they've probably fought to do so.
I operate my company, Carfagno Cleaning Incorporated, as a solo (or single cleaner). My COVID-19 Disinfecting Protocol is outlined on my website. As always, feel free to email me if you have any questions on the cleaning industry or have questions about your specific cleaning need.
I've been teaching a series on cleaning science these past 4 newsletters. Last week, I gave some examples of how to think through the cleaning of soap scum and glass etching in showers. This week, we're going to share my biggest secrets... "Ken, how do you get the kitchen sink so clean?"
Tarnish on Stainless Steel – This is formed through chemistry (oxidation and mineral ions in hard water). The tarnish layer is acidic and requires only A & C to clean. You need a product like Bar Keeper’s Friend™, which has an acidic pH of 1.5 to 2.5. It eats the tarnish instantly, thus temperature and time are not relevant. With the soft part of a sponge or cloth, you can use light agitation to remove the tarnish. For stubbornly tarnished sinks, use more product and more agitation like a scrub pad or light steel wool.
Discoloration on White Ceramic or Stone-Based Sinks – These surfaces are very porous and react with food and the metal in wet silverware. The reaction that occurs discolors the white to a yellow, blue, or orange (rust) color. The most effective solution requires C & T. Use a heavy alkaline like ammonia or bleach with a pH of 11-13. Allow the chemistry to work with a 2-5 minute dwell time (from experience). The stronger the alkaline, the less time is needed.
Now that you understand what dirt is and how to suspend it with TACT, let's cover some common usages of this TACT formula. Everyone asks me about soap scum and spots on shower glass. Let's dive into those today!
SOAP SCUM ON SHOWER WALLS - Soap scum is a substance chemically formed when the calcium & magnesium ions in hard water mixes with the fatty acids from the soap and dirt & oils from the body. It is carried in the steam to the walls and settles in the tub. Once cooled, it hardens and over time it layers. Soap scum has a slightly basic pH. You will need all 4 dials to effectively clean soap scum. Spray an acidic multipurpose cleaner onto the surface and allow to dwell to the product instructions. Then use agitation and hot water to complete the suspension to clean it. Scrub through the dirt. You can feel when the surface is clean. Your cleaning tool starts to glide. Then rinse with hot water.
HARD WATER ON GLASS SHOWER DOORS – “Etching” is a chemical process or erosion on a porous surface. It happens most commonly on glass shower doors. The hard water droplets have TACT. The pH of the hard water is acidic. Over time, they erode the surface of the glass and harden beneath the surface. You can clean the water spots off the glass surface with T, A, C & T, but the spots in the valleys of the etched glass are very difficult to clean. Once a glass shower door is etched, by definition, it is ruined. Teach your clients & prospects how vital it is to squeegee the droplets off the glass EVERY time, otherwise be prepared to budget for new doors every 5-10 years. This solution is education-based and impresses them.
In this video, you will learn a basic system for efficiently suspending soil (aka 'dirt') so you can remove it! TACT is an acronym that will give you the knowledge to remove the guess-work from cleaning as there really is a science!
T – Temperature – The dial goes from cold to hot.
A – Agitation – This dial goes from wiping to steel wool and blades.
C – Chemistry – This dial goes from 0 to 14 on the pH scale.
T – Time – This dial goes from immediate up to 10 minutes, typically.
Keep TACT in mind and fully understand each letter. This allows you to clean difficult & layered soils quicker without damaging any surfaces! Once you understand how to remove dirt, you can begin to clean more efficiently without damaging surfaces. I'll share some examples on upcoming newsletters!
Before you can effectively remove dirt, you need to understand what it is! This video is part one for this month's newsletter theme of "Cleaning Science Tips". You will absolutely be disgusted, but it's for the best... I promise!
Dirt or soil varies greatly depending on which part of the home you’re cleaning. At the macro-level, get ready to deal with:
Once you identify the DIRT you're dealing with, you need to suspend the DIRT to remove it. We'll cover this next week in our "Cleaning Science Tips: How to Use TACT".
Over my 15 years of professional cleaning for home & small business owners, I have seen that 90% of people DO NOT disinfect correctly. This video serves as an introduction to the 5-part FREE video course "How to Disinfect Properly", where I break down the "9 Mistakes of Disinfection".
Click here to access your FREE course!
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This is not a step-by-step guide to killing Coronavirus (COVID-19). The CDC doesn't even have that yet. This month's newsletter is a DIY on how to reduce the potential of the virus in your home. I am NOT an expert in disinfection, rather a cleaning professional that learns & relies on the CDC, NIH, and WHO as they publish new guidelines. They are the experts. I am a practitioner. Therefore, this article contains 4 useful tips to safeguard your family with links to the experts. Get educated and be safe!
"Even though the CDC has said on their website that contracting the new coronavirus from surfaces has yet to be seen, the agency and the World Health Organization (WHO) have strongly suggested cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily to limit the spread of the virus." [Full Article]
Here are some general tips!
(1) CLEAN FIRST, THEN DISINFECT -- Check out this article from the CDC on how to clean surfaces and especially the importance of cleaning BEFORE disinfecting. This strategy also applies to hand disinfection... Clean with soap and water for 20 seconds and then use hand sanitizer to be most effective.
(2) WHAT TO USE -- There are many effective ways to disinfect surfaces. Alcohols (ethanol 95% and isopropyl 70%), bleach (diluted), peroxide, and many more. The CDC has a recommended list on the above article. Choose one!!!
(3) READ THE INSTRUCTIONS -- The chemical or alcohol you choose requires TIME to break down the protein/lipid outer shell of the virus to kill it entirely or make it less harmful to the body. Don't just spray and wipe! Every disinfectant has a contact time to do it's work! In general, 10 minutes covers most chemicals, bit it has to stay wet for that time. Some are less like alcohols.
(4) USE THE 80/20 RULE -- It's not feasible to disinfect 100% of the germs in your home or place of business, but you can hyperf0cus with the 80/20 Rule. 80% of the germs reside on 20% of the surfaces. Focus on those 20% and you'll significantly reduce your risk! Here's a list of the 20% for offices.
(5) DO IT OFTEN -- Yes, hire a cleaning service to do this thoroughly as most are trained to do such. But 80+% of the responsibility falls on you to follow the recommendations of the CDC and WHO to disinfect daily.
Emily is a working mom that I'm sure many of you will relate to. I cleaned for her family for a year as they were transitioning to having twin girls and job changes for her husband. Emily battles stress and so much of it revolves around her sanctuary, the place where she lived, worked, and connected with each of her family members. In one conversation, I brought up a science correlation between clutter and stress in women. Emily related so much that it opened the door to some great conversations of how my cleaning service was de-stressing her life.
Emily would see the dirt and disorder around her house and it would create overwhelm and anxiety, causing her to get less done. "When my house was clean, that stress was gone and I could function better." The other intriguing point Emily made was this. "Knowing the cleaner was coming, forced me to organize my house and pick things up before you showed up." I was scheduled biweekly, which created a 14-day cycle of accountability to "clean before the cleaner" by picking up, straightening up, eliminating stuff, clearing counters and desks, etc. Emily shared something powerful. "A clean house improved my emotional state every time you left". I am not a psychologist. I'm a cleaner that has seen the story of Emily year-after-year in every household that hired me to clean. Let's dig into the science of clutter and dirt, so we can help the women in our lives to DE-STRESS!
Sherrie Bourg Carter wrote a powerful article in Psychology Today on March 14, 2012 entitled, "Why Mess Causes Stress: 8 Reasons, 8 Remedies The mental cost of clutter". I would like to extract the 8 points that Sherrie makes about clutter and add my own comments.
Christmas is over and a new DECADE is upon us. This is the time of year that many start to turn the corner from the current year and set serious goals for the new one. Just look at the book stores and online sellers. They advertise heavily to the public on health, health, health. Why? Because it sells. We set health goals more than any other for January 1st. Let's dig deep into human psychology and discover WHY these goals fail. Then we'll unpack a framework that can help you make your goals work for you in 2020.
STEP #1 - Before we look at 2020, let's look back at 2019 and search for clues as to what worked and what did not. I have an entire podcast episode and show notes on how to do this using John Maxwell's "Think Week" annual process. Check out John's blog article and my podcast for the full details. Here is the summary. Between December 26th and 31st, pull out your 2019 calendar and journals. Look at the goals you set during the year and ask yourself this question. "Did I achieve this goal?" If you answer "yes", ask yourself, "why did I succeed". If you answer "no", ask yourself, "why did I fail". Here are some other questions that John Maxwell uses to assess his year.
STEP #2 - We need to understand the NEED for a big vision and goals. First of all, do this exercise. Ask yourself what you want in 2020. Then ask yourself WHY. Once you answer, ask WHY again. Do this 5 times. This peels back the layers of the onion until you have reached the core of what you really want and why. I promise you. It will fuel you through 2020. Now that you have a vision, you need to understand why goals and accountability are so important. Do you know that out of every 100 people, 83 have no goals, 14 have verbal goals, and 3 have written goals. The ones with verbal goals are 10 times more successful than the ones without goals and the ones with written goals are 30 times more successful. There is even a higher echelon of individuals that write down their goals and are held accountable to achieving them. This is me. Is it you? I highly recommend that you get a big WHY for 2020. Then you set goals around that why, write them down, and ask someone you admire & respect to hold you accountable to achieving them.
STEP #3 - Let me briefly share the framework of a SMART goal.
Specific – Make the goal answer WHO it includes, WHERE it will occur, WHAT you want to accomplish, and WHICH constraints could affect it.
Measurable – Make the goal simple to track and quantify. What gets measured, gets managed. Either use a numeric or Yes/No structure.
Attainable – Make your first goal realistic to start the Momentum Cycle. Subsequent goals should be more aggressive as confidence grows.
Relevant – Your goal must matter to your WHY. If the goal accomplishes "stuff" for you, but doesn't get you closer to your dream, it's not SMART.
Time-Bound – Give your goal a deadline or it will never get accomplished. Deadlines create tension and tension creates action.
Make sure your goal is truly SMART. Then add accountability to achieve it and ensure it's tied to a big vision for your family this upcoming year. If you do, you'll be proud of your accomplishments 1 year from now.
The information in "Step 2" and "Step 3" is a summary of a 60-minute SMART Goals Masterclass that I taught for my SMART Cleaning Tribe. You can watch it for free on my website.
I asked this question on my Facebook page this week. "What's the #1 stress going into Thanksgiving?" Here were a few of the common answers.
“Entertaining the overbearing members of your family."
"Family... believe it or not. To many personalities, some don't get along, have different beliefs and such."
"People who are so stressed they take it out on you!"
It's vital to understand that stress builds as a result of many things as my Facebook post proved. Many of these factors are beyond our control, but there is one major source of stress that we can control. I will elaborate in my next article, "Dirt and Disorder Creates Overwhelm & Anxiety" ,where I will share an important scientific finding along with Emily's story. You will relate to it big time. Here's a sneak peak. Clutter creates guilt and embarrassment, especially when guests are coming over. We know that these guests are coming very soon. Let me help you eliminate these potential feelings of guilt, embarrassment, and anxiety from my 15 years of presentation cleaning.
Know Where to Clean & Declutter.
I was trained by the realtors and stagers of Coldwell Banker Prime Properties for many years on how to do exactly this. I learned that buyers are emotional and make their decisions based on first impressions. Therefore, I was trained to add sparkle to the first impression areas as well as strategically cleaning the other parts of the home. This would "present" the home best for the prospective buyer. Let's apply this mindset to your holiday guests. Declutter and clean these areas really, really, really good! If you can't eliminate the clutter, move it to an inconspicuous storage area. Don't wait! Declutter this weekend! This leaves you 10-12 days before the guests arrive. Clean these 6 areas as best you can leaving the toilets, sinks, counters, dining room table, and floors for the final 2-3 days. This short burst of effort will move you from embarrassing to impressing!
Rally the Troops.
Every family dynamic is different. You may be a early 30's couple with 1 baby and all of the work falls on you. You may be in your 40's with 3-5 school age kids. Or you may be in your 50's or 60's with the kids and grandkids coming back to the house. Where ever you are, assign roles to keep the house clutter free and clean throughout the holidays. Husbands, I am speaking directly to you. There is NO pass. Don't say, "I work hard and I'm on vacation." You may not understand it completely, but serving your role in the family to keep the house clean and clutter free will help your wife so much to keep her sanity. Kids, now I'm speaking to you. Do you want to eat and get gifts this holiday season? You are a part of the family and need to support your role with a good attitude.
Hire a Cleaning Service!
This is for the families that want to outsource most of the first two tips! Not everyone can afford to hire a service and I DO NOT recommend hiring an amateur. In another upcoming article, I will highlight the process to finding a great cleaning service in your area. If you can afford it, get a referral from someone you trust, make sure they are insured, and give them a shot. A qualified business will be a great ally as your guests arrival date approaches. They will know exactly which areas to presentation clean and how to advise you on where to declutter as I've taught you in the first tip. They will work alongside you over these next few weeks and throughout Christmas to restore your home and remove your anxiety.
Yes, some of us have a Cousin Eddie coming over. He will probably park his trailer in the driveway and empty his refuse in the sewer. So remember. This is a wonderful time of year to reflect upon all the blessings we have received and to open up our homes to those we love... even to Eddie.
Thank you for reading and Happy Thanksgiving!
Let's redefine "dirtiest" to the word you actually care most about... "germiest".
You want to avoid sickness and with flu season right around the corner, this is a great time to assess the cleanliness of your office.
In an article published by WebMd on December 23, 2018, Dr. Laura J. Martin, MD shares her professional insights. She sites 15 common office locations that tend to gather the most germs (aka bacteria) and strategies to sanitize and/or avoid them. The article does a great job, so I won't attempt to re-write it. I will simply list the 15 areas, site her takeaways, and add my perspective as a cleaning company owner for 14 years. This article could be a great resource for an upcoming staff meeting as well as a solid checklist for your cleaning service to evaluate in hopes of reducing your sick day call outs this cold & flu season!
Updated 10/6/22: Our family loves the Philly Area still. It's home. It's always been home. Our children have adapted so well in the 4 years since we left everything they knew in Upstate NY. We currently live in Harleysville, have a wonderful church, homeschool community, and circle of friends. Carfagno Cleaning served mostly houses and some offices in NY and maintained that model in 2018 - 2019 in the Indian Valley. In 2020, our model shifted to mostly offices as a result of the pandemic. By mid-2021, we stopped serving houses and rebranded to Carfagno Commercial Cleaning. The C3 Experience serves professional office spaces such as financial, medical, and professional services. C3 is an employer in the Indian Valley that is partnered with the community. Ken actively serves on the Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce's Membership Committee to better the chamber and the business community.
Original Article: Hello Philly Area! After 18 years, our family is PHINALLY coming home!
I followed my dream to create things for the world. This lead me to GE engineering away from PA and our family. But the corporate world stuck a dagger in my WHY of FAMILY after completely selling out for 12 months. My hero and VP of Engineering said. “If you want my job, you can't have a personal life. I live in Greenville and my wife lives in Atlanta."
This rocked my world to the core, hitting me right in the WHY. Family. That's not me. Thus, I exchanged the GE logo on my shirt to my own company logo in 2005. During these last 13 years, we've enjoyed incredible flexibility & freedom with our family of 7. And the work itself has been SO rewarding. I've been blessed with the opportunity to be a member of so many families and realtor teams over the years. Yes, I cleaned for them, but it was so much more. They have been my surrogate families as ours was 5 hours away. As hard as it was to leave, the Carfagnos are PHINALLY coming back home to enjoy FAMILY, clean for YOU, and coach other cleaning owners nationally who also want more time with their families.
Here are some quick survey questions to discover if hiring Carfagno Cleaning is right for you:
WHY would you hire Carfagno Cleaning? That's simple. We share values and that builds trust.
Frequently Asked Questions: