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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Fireplace Safety

There is something about heating a room with a fireplace that just makes it so cozy and inviting.  My parents have a fireplace in their basement, and I love it when they have a fire – which is pretty well daily during fall and winter months.  But before the first fire of the season, my dad cleans his fireplace chimney and checks the exterior for cracks.  I inquired as to why he does it instead of having it professionally done, and he said that up until he had a stainless steel liner inserted about eight years ago, he did have it done by a certified specialist.  I worried a bit, and I questioned him.  While he is comfortable with the job that he does, he doesn’t recommend that just anyone do it.  “You need to know what you are looking for,” he said.  “Plus making sure there are no cracks in the chimney is equally as important as cleaning out the creosote.”  That’s because he knows that not properly caring for your chimney can lead to a fire.

But your chimney isn’t the only thing to be mindful of.  I recently talked to Mike Feudale, General Manager of A Cleaner World Restoration Dry Cleaning. He shared with me one particularly bad home fire where a recently-started, unattended fire popped a few embers out of the fireplace onto a rug placed too closely to the fireplace.  The result – a burned up living room and a home full of smoke and ash.  Besides the rebuilding of a portion of the home, everything had to be removed, cleaned, and deodorized.

Redcross.org reports that December and January are peak months for home fires.  They further report that the second leading cause in home fires comes from heating sources like woodstoves and fireplaces.  We just wanted to remind you, knowing that colder weather and the holiday season means fireplaces will be in peak use, to be diligent when it comes to fireplace maintenance and safety.  Remember to open the flue before starting a fire.  Make sure to use a metal screen when burning a fire.  Keep flammable items away from the fireplace.  Burn firewood only.  Clean the interior of the fireplace after each fire.  Finally, be sure that your smoke detectors are properly working.

Stay warm…..and safe.  For more information on fireplace safety, check out our Helpful Hints section.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Too Much Stuff? Consider Donating.

I vividly remember as a child laying on the family room floor with my sister in October and November looking through the Sears Wish Book.  We would nearly wear out the pages looking at all the toys as we composed our lists of toy requests for Santa.  A couple of months ago, Gray did the modern-day version of that by laying on the floor in the kitchen with my iPad looking at the Lego site and at Amazon.  He had two pieces of paper – one for birthday and one for Christmas – and he went to town on the toy requests.

Later that evening, Matt and I went up to Gray’s room after taking a look at the lists.  The kid already had too many toys.  The problem with Gray is that everything is special – even the 6 page space activity book from Chick-fil-a.  Matt started talking about building a second level onto his Lego table.

Nonsense.  There are so many kids out there that would be thrilled with just a fraction of his toys.  It was time to share.
I suspect that Gray is not alone in the too many toys department.  Tomorrow is Christmas, and we all will be getting new things.  A few months ago I adopted a policy, every time something new came in, something old had to go.  A pure 1-to-1 ratio.  So as the new stuff comes in over this holiday season, why not take a look to see what you can share?  A Cleaner World has had a long-standing relationship with The Salvation Army.  You can drop off no longer needed items – clothes, shoes, toys, even furniture – at any A Cleaner World location, and we will make sure the folks at The Salvation Army get those items.  The Salvation Army will place the items for sale in their Family Thrift Stores, and the proceeds directly fund Salvation Army programs that provide basic needs to individuals and families in need.

Writing this motivated me to share.  Below is treasure-trove of extras that we recently donated to The Salvation Army.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Pressing Polyester

I am embarrassed to admit this but I have melted a hole in a sweater before.  That’s what happens when you fail to consult the care label.  If I had been smart enough to do so, I would have noticed that it said “cool iron”.  I don’t remember what the exact fabric ratios were, but I remember that there was a fairly high percentage of polyester.  Polyester is a synthetic fabric that has lots of great properties – it’s durable, easily dyed, light weight – but it is also easily damaged by excessive heat, hence the “cool iron”.  Unfortunately if you melt synthetic fibers, there’s really nothing that can be done.  My sweater ended up in Matt’s rag collection.

I recently asked David Jones, Owner of the A Cleaner World located on Lawndale Avenue in Greensboro why, with as many synthetic garments that we clean, does that not happen at our stores.  Here’s why – most home irons are electric and reach 500 degrees when set on high.  A Cleaner World uses steam irons, which are regulated by the boiler and will only reach a maximum of 285 degrees.  The temperature, along with the proper amount of steam and pressure coming from the press head and buck (the bottom of our press that looks and acts like your home ironing board and is covered in thick heat and steam conducting padding) allows for a damage-free professional finish.

You can certainly press polyester and polyester blends at home but here are a couple of suggestions from our resident expert, Mike Feudale:

• Always consult the care label first.
• Use a cool iron.
• Place either a damp pressing cloth (or you can also spritz a dry cloth with water) over the garment to create steam.
• Place the iron on the cloth instead of placing it directly on the garment.
• Avoid using the steam feature on your iron directly on the garment.  Use direct iron steam sparingly over the top of the damp press cloth.  Most fabrics need a little moisture (steam) to relax the fibers and remove wrinkles.  Allow the fabric to dry or become cool to the touch before moving.  This will set the finish, resulting in flat, smooth garments.  Once cool, move onto the next area being sure to overlap finished areas.

As always, if you have questions about caring for your polyester garments, or any garment for that matter, contact any one of our locations.  We are glad to help.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Commercial Floor Mats

I know I’ve mentioned many, many times that I have an overwhelming need to be clean.  With my family, it is incredibly difficult to keep a clean home – especially a clean kitchen floor.  During the warmer months there’s the grass clippings and garden dirt.  During the cooler months, Matt has a woodworking project going, so the mudroom, laundry room, and kitchen floors see a fair amount of sawdust.  They don’t wear shoes past those three rooms so that’s where the dirt stops, but I tend to spend most of my time in those three rooms and my bare feet can’t stand the feel of walking on dirt and grime.

In September, I shared with you what I had learned about our commercial floor mats during a visit to our A Cleaner World Commercial Services Division.  I commented at the end that I’d love to experience that 80% reduction in soil entering into my house.  Just a short time later, these lovely mats appeared at my front door.


While I cannot quantify the percentage reduction in the amount of dirt that enters my house on the floor, I can tell you that the bottom of my feet have noticed a significant difference.  I decided to ask one of our customers, Robbie Bryson with Triad Fitness Center in High Point, to see if he could help me.  Robbie said he immediately noticed a difference when he put one of our commercial floor mats at the front door.  “Before I had a cheap mat at the front door,” he explained.  “But this mat is like carpet.  It absorbs water and catches the dirt when it first comes in.  Plus it is black so when one of our members comes in with dirt on their feet, it is pretty obvious.  It has caused them to pause and many times take off their shoes.  It’s really our first line of defense and helps with keeping dirt from being tracked all over the gym.”  He went on to share how friendly and honest Derrick is, how he makes sure the gym is always stocked but never tries to oversell, and that he changes out his mat every other week.

If you are constantly dealing with dirt being tracked into your place of business, why not consider giving Scottie Springer, our Commercial Services Customer Service Manager, a call at 336-870-6299?  He will be glad to stop by to see how we can help.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Candle Safety

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the top three days for home candle fires are Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.  They also report that 56% of home candle fires occurred when some form of combustible material was too close to the candle.

Mike Feudale, General Manager of A Cleaner World Restoration Dry Cleaning has seen the kind of damage a candle fire can leave.  He’s recently tended to two candle-related home fires.  The first fire was actually outside on a deck at an apartment complex.  The candle was left on a table with a table cloth and no protective barrier.  It burned the porch and railing of that apartment as well as the deck of the apartment above it.  The second fire occurred under the same set up, but this time it was inside the home.  There was significant damage to the room where the fire started as well as ash and smoke damage throughout the house.

The holiday season is upon us.  Knowing that there will be lots of candles burning, Mike stresses the following:

• Never leave a burning candle unattended.
• Place burning candles on non-flammable, sturdy surfaces.
• Use containers that are large enough to hold the melted wax and make sure they are heat resistant.
• Keep burning candles out of the reach of children.
• Never burn a candle in a drafty area.
• Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on appropriate burn times.

Nothing says holiday festivities like a warm, scented, burning candle.  Just be sure to use care when burning candles so that you can enjoy a safe holiday season.
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