Five Tips to Throw a Halloween Party

With half of October already gone, the fall festivities are in full swing. Well... as much as COVID-19 will allow. Over the past few months we've all been learning to cope with the restrictions and requirements laid out for social distancing. Here are five tips to throw a fun, safe Halloween party during COVID.

  1. Safety first! If you're inviting people over for a party, make sure the space is properly cleaned and sanitized. Wipe down surfaces with a multipurpose cleaner to remove grime, grease, dirt, and soiling. Then use a disinfectant or sanitizer to kill any viruses, bacteria, or microbes on the surface. Agent Clean also offers sanitation services using an EPA registered, food-safe sanitizer that is confirmed by the CDC as effective against COVID-19. Techs will use a spray or mist device to ensure complete coverage on an area.
  2. Invite close circle friends only. Another good way to help ensure a safer party is to invite only people that you have regular contact with already. This can be family members, close friends, or coworkers. By only inviting people you already come in contact with, you limit the likelihood of contracting COVID at the party.
  3. Choose a Theme! One of the best ways to have a great Halloween Party is to choose a fun costume theme, or decoration theme. Maybe it's a spooky corn maze or farm, or a Game of Thrones theme. Maybe the costumes all must be movie characters from classic horror films. Whatever you decide, it's sure to be a fun time for kids and adults alike!
  4. Try a virtual party! You can invite close friends or family, but hook up your laptop or phone and make sure your friends in other places are doing the same! Parade your costumes, play party games, and have a good time, all through Zoom or some other video conferencing software.
  5. Do an outdoor party. Sure it may be chilly on October 31st, but having an outdoor party will allow you to invite more people, and the generally larger space will allow easier social distancing. Doing an outdoor party also means your decorations can be epic, legendary, and scary.

Don't let a pandemic ruin the fun of Halloween. Just follow a few extra precautions like sanitizing, outdoor, and close friends or contacts only, and have a great time.

If you need some help with cleaning a space after the party, Agent Clean can help. We offer soft washing, power washing, and sanitation services. Find a location near you and call for a free custom cleaning estimate.

Deck Restoration

Have a deck can bring about amazing experiences at your home. It's the perfect hangout spot for spring parties, summer evenings, fall gatherings, and winter views. A deck provides a convenience that ground level patios don't always achieve.

Having a deck also means maintaining it. Wood decks are susceptible to deterioration and decay, which not only makes them unsightly, it can create a hazard for family or guests.

Mold and Algae

One of the most common ailments of wooden decks is mold and algae growth. Most new decks have a coating and seal to help prevent this, but as the outer finish wears off and the wood becomes exposed to the elements, mold and algae begin to form. If left unchecked, these parasitic spores can grow deep into the wood, making them hard to eradicate and creating a slipping hazard. Since mold and algae retain moisture, it can be particularly dangers on steps.

Older decks are especially susceptible to growths, and if left unchecked it can quickly become a daunting task to remove ingrown mold.

The Fix

The best way to treat mold and algae on wooden decks is to apply light to medium pressure and treat with a soft washing solution. The chlorinated solution will target the mold and algae, killing it and releasing it's hold on the wood. Because wood is fibrous and porous in nature, extra pressure is sometimes applied to help penetrate the surface. Too much pressure can cause fuzzing, which is detrimental to the wood.

After cleaning and treating the mold and algae, often times a brightener is applied to neutralize any old stain, and help the wood open up and be ready to receive a new finish. It also brightens the grain of the wood, bringing it to a more natural state. Then a stain/seal can be applied. A natural oil based stain is semi transparent, and is best if you want to see the grain of the wood. If you prefer color, a solid stain is more like a paint and can be applied easily. This is a good option if the wood is in bad condition, or if the old stain couldn't be completely removed.

Wood Deterioration

As decks age, the other common issue is wood deterioration. This can come in the form of rotting wood, loose boards, warped boards, or protruding hardware like screws and nails. Over time, the changing temperature and changes in moisture can cause wood to warp and deform. This leads to a myriad of problems, both cosmetic and hazardous.

The Fix

If you're having your deck cleaned, sealed and stained, it's the perfect opportunity to have warped and damaged boards replaced, and hardware secured. This ensures that the deck is in top-shape to be stained and sealed. It will also eliminate any tripping hazards due to loose and uneven boards.

A deck is a great addition to your home. Keeping it maintained ensures that it will be a source of entertainment and relaxing evenings. Deck restoration is a good DIY project, but it takes time and special care to do right. Agent Clean offers deck and building restoration services. Find a location near you and ask for a free deck restoration consultation and estimate.

How Cleaners Work

A lot of what we talk about with customers and clients is soft washing, or the method of using low pressure and a proprietary solution to "treat" or clean siding. Across the Midwest, this usually involves combating mildew, mold, and algae. But we still use cleaners - degreasers, in fact - to help remove dirt, mud, grease, and pollution from various surfaces. How do these work?

What is a cleaner?

First, let's look at the distinction between a cleaner and a degreaser. All degreasers are a type of cleaner, but not all cleaners are considered degreasers. Most of the degreasers used in the exterior cleaning industry are alkaline degreasers, which will be important to remember later.

All cleaners and degreasers work about the same way, on the molecular level. In layman's terms, a cleaner molecule has one side that is hydrophobic, and one that is hydrophilic. The hydrophobic end is drawn toward the contaminant, and the hydrophilic end is drawn toward the water. Basically, one end latches onto the dirt or grease, and the other pulls it to the water.

Understanding pH

Household, basic cleaners tend to have a neutral pH, or are mildly acidic or mildly alkaline. Neutral pH is 7, with anything below 7 being acidic and anything above 7 being alkaline. The more extreme the soiling, the higher alkalinity helps break down the molecules so they can be removed from the surface. Drastic differences in pH causes more molecular turmoil, aiding in loosening contaminants from a surface.

Degreasers function like cleaners, but are formulated to tackle heavy soiling. Heavy duty degreasers tend to be highly alkaline, and fall somewhere between 10 and 13 on the pH scale. Since soils tend to be neutral or more acidic, the wide discrepancy between pH values helps breakdown and remove the grease and dirt.

Power Washing and Degreasers

How do we use degreasers? While high pressure is enough to blast a surface clean, degreasers help lift soiling out of porous surfaces like concrete, and allow for the surface cleaner to work faster. Degreasers can be used to help remove oil stains from driveways, foot traffic from entry ways, and dumpster grease around restaurants.

We also use a degreaser in our soft washing mixes for house siding cleaning. The little bit of degreaser helps remove atmospheric pollution, dirt, and cobwebs.

For restaurant cleaning such as dumpster pads and entry ways, a good caustic degreaser is useful for breaking up the animal fats found in food grease. We use a industrial caustic degreaser that reacts with the animal fats and draws the grease to the water, allow it to wash free.

It's best to find power washing services if you don't want to do the work yourself. Our Agent Clean technicians are trained, insured, and experts in their field. You can also find a location near you.

Benefits of Power Washing

Dirt is everywhere, and for home owners it’s a nuisance. For cleaners, it’s a dream. Power washing is the chosen method for cleaning dirt, grime, pollution, and oil off of hard surfaces like concrete. There are several benefits to hiring a power washing service.

Curb Appeal

This is one of the easiest benefits to notice - curb appeal! Blasting away the dirt build up is an easy way to make your home look better. Rain easily distributes mud onto walkways and patios, and over time the mud dries and just cakes onto the concrete. Surface cleaners and pressure wands make short work of dirt build up.

Grease and grime from shoes also builds up over time. You notice this especially on well-worn walking paths and entry ways. The black discoloration can be cleaned up to make your entry way look new. 

Safety

Mold is another element that can build up in concrete. Mold grows into the pores of the concrete, and the longer it is left untreated or uncleaned, the harder it is to eradicate. Mold also retains moisture and becomes slick when wet. This makes it a slipping hazard during and after rainfall. Be careful when walking on concrete overgrown with mold.

Soft Washing and Sealing

While power washing is an option to remove mold, we recommend having the concrete treated with a soft washing method. Soft washing uses low pressure and a cleaning solution as opposed to high pressure water. The soft washing solution contains a small percentage of sodium hypochlorite, or essentially chlorine, that kills the mold and releases its bond on the concrete. Light pressure is then used to rinse the mold away. This method is ideal because it kills the mold and helps prevent regrowth. Since mold is spore-based, simply blasting off sends spores into the air, which resettle on the concrete and begin growing again. Soft washing is more reliable at stopping the mold from returning.

A surefire way to prevent mold regrowth is to have the concrete sealed. Concrete sealer fills in the pores of the concrete and helps prevent moisture from seeping through. Not only does sealing prevent mold growth, it protects the concrete and prevents cracks due to moisture. When water gets into the concrete and freezes, it expands, then contracts when the weather is warmer. This fluctuation causes micro fractures in the surface that often become larger cracks. 

What can be power washed?

Power washing is a great solution to cleaning up hard surfaces around your home. Commonly, these are patios, sidewalks, and driveways. Power washing is also useful around pools, on retaining walls, and brick steps or entryways. 

Find a pressure washer near you, or find a location of one of our Agent Clean services. Our technicians are trained, licensed and insured.  

Is Soft Washing Safe?

If you’re looking to have your roof or siding cleaned up you’ve likely heard or seen the term “soft washing” a few times. Wondering what the fuss is about? Is it safe for your home? It can be off putting to learn that soft washing uses chemical solutions to do the cleaning instead of high pressure, but don’t worry, it’s not as bad or as dangerous as it sounds. In fact, you’re far less likely to have any damage from soft washing than you are with high pressure washing, and soft washing will get rid of mildew and those black streaks on the roof faster than traditional power washing.

Soft Washing FAQ

Q: How is soft washing different from power washing

A: Soft washing uses low pressure and a cleaning solution to gently wash siding. Power washing uses high pressure water to blast dirt, mold, and mildew from the surface and can cause physical damage to vinyl, brick, stucco, and other siding materials.

Q: What is in a soft washing solution?

A: Common soft washing solution contains mostly water and mild chlorination. The sodium hypochlorite found in the mix is what removes mold, mildew, algae, and other organic growths from the siding. Cleaning solutions often contain soap additives as well, such as surfactants and foaming agents to help the solution “cling” to the surface and work more efficiently.

Q: Will the chemicals in soft washing damage my yard or plants?

A: Soft washing contains only a small amount of sodium hypochlorite (SH), which is the compound that could cause harm to plants. Higher levels are found in roof washing mixtures, but care is taken to ensure the risk of damage is mitigated. SH damages plants by sucking nutrients from the plant and soil. The best way to prevent this is through water saturation. Plants can only absorb so much water at a time. By pre-rinsing and wetting the plants during the cleaning process, any SH that lands on the plant or on the ground is diluted to levels that are safe. Products such as Agent Halt are also used to neutralize any SH that could be harmful after the washing process.

Q: What are the benefits of soft washing over power washing?

A: While both methods can yield similar results, soft washing is overall a more efficient method of cleaning siding and roofs. When power washing a surface, full coverage is required to clean, which is time consuming due to the relatively narrow stream used when power washing. With soft washing, since the cleaning solution does the work, it allows for a wider coverage using either a misting or a wide fan spray. This means that soft washing is faster and uses less water to clean. Soft washing also eliminates mold, mildew, and algae where as power washing simply blasts the spores into the air.

Soft washing is widely considered the superior method of performing house washing services. Ask your cleaning company about the process to see if it is right for your home.

Power Washing Services

Pressure Washing Services

If you’re a homeowner, you know that taking care of one of your biggest investments is an important task. Your home is your castle, and the exterior should be as healthy as the interior. Our pressure washing services are ideal for cleaning up the hard surfaces around your home.

Concrete sidewalks and driveways are susceptible to oil stains, mold, and mildew. Agent Clean uses both soft washing and power washing methods to tackle concrete and hard surface cleaning.

Driveway Cleaning

If you have a concrete driveway, oil and grease will eventually stain your driveway. Whether you’re selling your home or just want to clean up the exterior, Agent Clean can get rid of the stains with ease. For oil and grease, surface cleaners and a quality degreaser is used to lift the stains the pressure wash the area.

Sidewalk Concrete Cleaning

Sidewalks often become overgrown with mold and mildew. For mold and mildew, the concrete can be soft wash treated first with a solution designed to eradicate the mold and mildew. Then a concrete sealer can be applied, filling in the porous surface of the concrete and inhibiting future growth.

Agent Clean offers a full suite of exterior cleaning options, including the best pressure washing service near you.