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.
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.
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.
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.
Commercial Curb Appeal
Managing a business comes with no small list of things to do on a regular basis. Exterior maintenance and cleaning is an important task to remember, as curb appeal directly influences how a customer feels about your business. Agent Clean specializes in both residential and commercial exterior cleaning. Here are a few of our most used services.
Commercial Cleaning - Pressure Washing
Sidewalks and Entryways: One of the quickest areas to become dirty and covered in grime is the sidewalk and entryway to your business, or a patio if its a restaurant. Agent Clean can wash and treat those areas to remove dirt, grease, and mold. Gum and rust removal service is also available.
Dumpster Pads: These are quick to become greasy and dirty, especially at restaurants. Agent Clean utilizes a powerful degreaser to remove oil and grease build up around dumpster pads, reducing slipping hazard and fire risk as well as keeping the area tidy.
Drive through: Banks and restaurants benefit from our drive through cleaning. We use a strong degreaser to remove oil and grime from the driving lanes, and rinse wash the canopy and pillars. This keeps your drive through lanes looking pristine and professional.
Commercial Cleaning - Window Washing
Agent Clean also offers routine window cleaning services. Windows, especially in restaurants and in entryways, quickly become smudged and dirty. Professional window cleaning is fast, high-quality, and leaves the windows sparkling.
Whatever business you have, routine maintenance is always best. By scheduling routine cleanings, your business benefits from clean exteriors and the process is generally faster because it’s performed on a regular basis. Give us a call for a free commercial cleaning service estimate.