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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Our Craftsmen (and women)

Google the definition of the word ‘craftsman’ and you’ll get this answer: “a person who is skilled in a particular craft. Synonyms: artisan, artist, skilled worker.”  When you think of the word craftsman, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?  For me, I instantly think of someone that works with wood.  But when I started looking on some different sites, I found this definition on freedictionary.com: “a professional whose work is consistently of high quality”, and further down the page they had lots of professions listed like barrel makers, clock smiths, hairdressers, tanners, weavers.
 
As I started thinking about some of the professions listed, I started thinking about the folks in our stores.  Take for instance our dry cleaners – they need to have intimate knowledge of the different types of cleaning methods, how they impact all the different fabrics and embellishments that are out there, and which solutions will remove which stains.  And what about our finishers and pressers?  Well, they don’t just press wrinkles out of clothes.  Not only do they know how to use specialized equipment to remove wrinkles and reshape items on standard garments like pants and men’s dress shirts, they also need to take those pieces of equipment and use them to finish non-standardized garments like women’s blouses and dresses.  Let’s not forget our seamstresses and tailors – what they do is seriously a dying form of art.


So what I’d like to do is to just take this opportunity to thank the staff at A Cleaner World – the Craftsmen and Craftswomen – that work hard every day, sometimes in the extreme heat, to keep us all looking sharp and professional.  Based on all of the things I’ve seen you guys tackle and restore, you definitely deserve the title of Craftsmen and Craftswomen. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Cleaner World Commercial Services Delivery Truck

When we started A Cleaner World Commercial Services back in July of 2010 out of the back of a retail location in High Point, we never dreamed we’d, just a few years later, be servicing nearly 400 businesses.  Six years later, after a move to a larger facility and adding three more vans, we realized that we had outgrown our delivery system.  We’d developed a system where the same Route Representative delivered all the route using multiple vans.  We loaded 3 vans for next day delivery.  The rep would start with the # 1 van, and we would deliver the 2nd van to him. That van would return to the plant. The driver would then leave shortly with the 3rd van. He would again meet the rep and switch vehicles.

This worked well for quite a while, but it had its limitations.  First, we spent 10 to 15 hours a week shuttling vans around the Triad.  Second, we couldn’t really stock any additional ‘just in case’ or ‘extra’ items for clients.  Third, it was really difficult to efficiently organize a lot of stuff into such a small area.

In August of this year, we accepted delivery of a 22-foot step-in delivery truck.  Now we can put the entirety of our first route on this truck.  It has made such a difference in allowing us to even better serve our clients by allowing us to carry a large product mix on board.  Customers no longer have to order and wait until next delivery for extra items.  Plus, it’s much more user-friendly than our delivery vans.  Our rep can easily stand up and walk around the back of it.  It has racks for hanging uniforms and shelves for holding product. It was designed specifically for our industry and is safer since the rep enters and exits the vehicle on the right side or through the rear doors. This avoids stepping out in traffic. Its interior design creates less stooping, bending, and reaching unlike the previous vans. Additionally, it has a tremendous capacity, and we currently use about 80% of it. We are excited about our growth and expect to fill it within the year.

While the finished product hasn’t changed, we believe now we can offer our customers an increased level of service.  Our employees love the new truck because it is so much easier to load and unload. Our customers admire the truck but are simply grateful for the fine service we provide. We know that our current customers are the best advertising we have. This truck, like all our business decisions, was made with our customers in mind.

Further, it has the Gray Mitchell seal of approval.  The day of its maiden voyage, we went over to the warehouse to see it come in.  There was so much excitement – by both my son and the staff.  We’ve all been waiting quite a while for this fancy, efficient, and helpful tool, and now we are putting it to good use serving the fine folks of the Triad.  If your business needs help with uniform rental, bathroom supplies, floor mat rental, shop towels, restaurant supplies, or mop rental, give Scottie Springer a call at 336-870-6299.  We’d love to pull this new truck into your business’s parking lot.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Staying Warm This Winter

If it’s below 80 degrees outside, I’m cold; needless to say, I’ve been cold since September.  My husband and I definitely have two different ideas of what is a comfortable temperature for our house.  His argument of you can always add more layers always wins, so most of the time I’m pretty bundled up in our house, especially if I’m sitting still at the computer.

Tips for staying warm at home:
  1. Prevent cold from coming into your home in the first place.  Patch up any drafty areas.  Check windows and doors to make sure they are nice and tight.  Keep the flue closed on your fire place when it’s not in use.  If you have hardwoods, consider adding a rug for floor warmth.
  2. Dress in layers.  Most long underwear is thin and lightweight and will easily go under jeans and a long-sleeve shirt.  I typically top that with a fleece jacket or a sweater.
  3. Wear socks, and not just any socks – choose a pair that’s thick and warm. 
  4. If you aren’t going out, wear pajamas.  I’m not kidding.  I have a pair of fleece pajamas, and when I pair them with long underwear and thick socks, I swear that’s when I’m finally not cold.
But what if you need to venture out?
  1. You’ve probably heard this dozens of times, but layer up.  Put a base layer on under your clothes, including bottoms.  So many people bulk up on the top and then leave their legs exposed by only wearing one layer.  If you are worried about looking the Michelin Man, visit your local sporting goods store.  There are all kinds of options out there that are thin and completely unnoticeable under every day garments.
  2. Choose warm socks, and if it is wet out, make sure your shoes are water-resistant.  Why?  Dry feet equal warm feet.
  3. The warmest jackets and coats are made of either down or wool, and if it is wet out, make sure your outermost layer is water-resistant.  Remember – wet equals cold.
  4. Cover all exposed areas.  That means wear a hat, keep your throat warm with a scarf, and wear gloves or mittens.
Most importantly, be cautious and prepared.  If the temperatures are dangerously low, don’t head out unless you absolutely have to, and if you do head out, make sure your car is stocked with blankets, a set of dry clothes, food, water, and a flashlight.  A Cleaner World would like for you to stay warm and safe this winter.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Service with a Smile

I have the same routine every Friday.  I get up early and run, take Gray to school, and then hit the grocery store around 8:15 a.m.  I do this mainly because the grocery store isn’t terribly busy at that time.  I start in the produce section, where the same two guys greet me with a smile.  They know me because regularly I ask for items that apparently most customers don’t buy, like Brussels Sprouts, dried mushrooms, fennel, and beets.  They are always so nice and friendly, asking me how I’m doing and teasing me about the crazy things I’ll be cooking.

But then I get to the deli.  I always buy some sort of deli meat because Gray’s school doesn’t have a cafeteria, so I have to pack his lunch daily.  The man behind the deli counter never smiles, and many times he seems annoyed when I push my cart up to the counter.  After several encounters, I decided to start chatting with him.  At first it was like pulling teeth, but week after week I made small talk, always thanked him for my order, and smiled as I pushed my cart along.  These days I still feel like I am bothering him, but he does chat a bit now and occasionally smiles.

Before I wrote this post, I read several online articles that talked about what a burden it placed on employees to be friendly and smile while doing their jobs.  In fact, one article went so far to say that it’s just stressful!  I say that’s crazy.  I could go on and on about how a smile gives a first impression, shows state of mind and attitude, and indicates customer value, but just think about how you feel when you approach someone…..anyone, whether it’s a place of business or just passing them on the street.  A simple smile and a warm “hello” is such an easy thing to do, and it could be the thing that makes someone’s day.

A Cleaner World has always trained our Customer Service Representatives to greet each customer with a smile and always thank them for their business, but lately we’ve really been more focused on that part of our service.  While we know customers come to us for our expert stain removal, state-of-the-art equipment, years of experience, and attention to detail, we know that the interaction our customers have with our staff can make you want to come back again or decide to go somewhere else – regardless of how well your clothes are cleaned and pressed.  That’s why we’re asking for honest feedback; we truly want to know if you enjoy visiting our stores.  Do our staff members serve you quickly, with a smile, getting all your information, answering any questions you might have?  If you’ve been coming for a while know, do we call you by name and automatically know how you like your garments finished?  If you have feedback or an experience you’d like to share, please send me an e-mail at wildwednesday@acleanerworld.com.  We really do want to hear from you.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Christmas Tree Safety

Last year I purchased an artificial Christmas tree, something I swore I would never do.  Two things led to this purchase: 1. A couple years ago, our tree fell while Matt was out of town and left me with a big mess and 2. The more blogs I write about fire safety, the more I worry about a home fire.  Did you know that according to a 2015 National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report, U. S. Fire Departments responded to more than 200 home fires annually between 2009 and 2013 where Christmas trees were the first item to catch on fire?

But it seems that my purchase may not have saved me from my second worry because the majority of Christmas tree fires are related to electrical malfunctions, and if your artificial tree isn’t flame-resistant, then it’s really no better than having a real tree.  Last year, A Cleaner World Fire Restoration shared some important tips on selecting and caring for your live Christmas tree.  This year, we’d like to follow up with these reminders:
  • Thirty percent of Christmas tree fires were due to electrical failures or malfunctions.  Check your lights before stringing them on the tree.  Make sure they have the label of an independent testing lab, they are for indoor use, replace worn or broken cords or loose bulbs, and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the number of strands to connect.
  • This may be an obvious one, but don’t use candles to decorate or light your tree.  Apparently this is how they did it before 1917.
  • Always turn off the tree lights before leaving or going to sleep.
  • Choose your tree’s location carefully.  According to the report I read, nearly 25% of fires occurred because the tree was too close to a heat source.
  • Don’t leave your tree up too long.  According to NFPA, trees, even if they are well-watered, should be taken down within four weeks of being put up in your home. 
The holiday season is such a joyous time – spending time celebrating with family and friends.  While we know that stuff can be replaced, Christmas tree-related fires have a higher rate of fatalities than other house fires.  Stay safe this holiday season, and feel free to call us at 336-992-0700 if you have a fire safety-related question.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Cleaning Your Dishwasher

I have this thought process that if you put dirty stuff into an appliance, add a cleaning agent, turn it on, let it do its thing, and clean items come out, then the appliance itself should be getting clean in the process too.  Apparently, I’m wrong because that big box you put your dirty dishes in, may be filled with nasty gunk, and it may not be getting your dishes as clean as you might think.  When’s the last time you cleaned your dishwasher?  If you’re like me, you probably don’t remember, and sadly, several articles I read said you should do it once a month!

Let’s get started:
  1. Take the bottom rack and thoroughly clean any accumulated debris or gunk built up in or around the drain area.
  2. Fill a dishwasher-safe dish with one cup of white vinegar and place it on the upper rack of your empty machine, close the door, and run a hot-water cycle.  This should wash away the majority of the gunk, grease, and grime.  There could still be some stuff left around the outer seal.  If so, simply take an old rag and wipe it off.
  3. To deodorize your dishwasher, sprinkle a cupful of baking soda across the bottom of the machine and run it on a short hot-water cycle.
That’s it.  Now your dishwasher should sparkle and smell fresh.  One side note here – if your dishwasher has a mold invasion, pour a cup of bleach in the bottom of the basin and run a full cycle only if the interior is NOT stainless steel.  Caution: using bleach on a stainless steel dishwasher interior will likely cause the metal to erode.  But no worries, I just used vinegar and baking soda on my stainless steel dishwasher, and it turned out nicely.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Respect for the American Flag

It is out of character for me to weigh in on anything controversial.  While I have my opinions, and they are strong ones too; I don’t like to offend others.  The older I’ve gotten, the more I realize that everyone has their own opinions, and they are completely entitled to them.  Moreover, we don’t have to agree on everything to be friends; in fact, many of my friends have different views than I.  The bottom line with me is, I don’t share my opinions because I’d much rather find common ground and be friends than not.

But…..and you knew there was a but coming…..it does bother me when the American Flag is disrespected and athletes choose to kneel during the National Anthem.  To me, the American Flag and the National Anthem represent the courage and sacrifice of the men and women that defend our country and freedom and equality for all.  Apparently I’m not alone because I found a couple coaches out there that weighed in on the recent debate:

http://www.breitbart.com/video/2016/03/08/watch-virginia-tech-basketball-coach-teaches-players-to-respect-the-national-anthem/

http://sportsday.dallasnews.com/dallas-cowboys/cowboys/2016/09/13/jerry-jones-disappointing-nfl-players-protesting-national-anthem

While I was working on this post, I found an article that shared other ways to disrespect the American Flag.  Even though I knew that it should never be used as clothing, bedding, or drapery, I didn’t know it should never be used for advertising purposes.  Below is a link to article that you might find interesting:

http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/2011/06/seven_ways_to_disrespect_the_a/

Here’s another interesting piece of information, A Cleaner World cleans American Flags for free – every day.  Remember, one of the ways to honor the American Flag and our country is to keep our country’s colors looking solid and strong.  Regularly cleaning your outdoor American Flag will cause it to both last longer and maintain its vivid colors longer than those that are not properly cared for.  If your flag needs some special attention, drop it by one of our locations, and we will consider it an honor to clean it for you – free of charge.    

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Deciphering Dress Codes

I firmly believe that choosing what to wear back in the 1950’s was much easier than what it is today.  Just think about it – women wore dresses and pearls everywhere, even while cleaning house, and men always wore suits.  No one ever got caught looking unkempt because no one ever left the house looking less than their best.  These days, I find myself running errands in yoga pants and flip flops with my hair in a ponytail; Mrs. Clever would have never done that.  Further there’s the whole party invitation thing that sometimes includes a dress code and sometimes doesn’t.  All this rambling leads me to this question – just what does smart casual, business casual, cocktail, and black tie really mean?
  • Smart Casual – a term I’ve only recently started hearing, and one that I think is incredibly vague.  After all, the interpretation is bound to differ person to person, so I’ll be honest and confess that I “googled” it.  It said, “Neat, conventional, yet relatively informal in style, especially as worn to conform to a particular dress code.  Think of a smart casual outfit as one that you'd wear for a movie or dinner date."
  • Business Casual – something that I’ve written about several times, noting my disappointment with the fact that we’re taking this term way too far.  Business casual used to mean khakis and a polo shirt on Fridays.  Today, depending on what company you work for, it can mean jeans, a t-shirt, and flip flops, but if someone indicates business causal, it is likely that they mean less formal than a traditional business suit, but still intending to give a professional impression.  I think khakis and a dress shirt fits the bill here.
  • Cocktail – by far the easiest thing to dress for, in my opinion.  Men can wear a nice, dark suit, and women have a plethora of options here from a traditional LBD to a lovely, elegant (but short) cocktail-type dress.  Be sure not to overdress and pick a floor length gown, and remember it is a bunch of people standing around drinking cocktails and enjoying canapes so a dress for clubbing is not appropriate here either.
  • Black tie – for men, this one is exceptionally easy; they simply wear a tux.  For women, on the other hand, it’s a little more difficult.  Tradition says to choose a full length gown, but as fashions change, I’m seeing lots more sources suggest formal separates, statement skirts, and dressy combos, as long as they go past the knee.  
But as Karl Lagerfeld said, “No one is over-dressed or underdressed in a Little Black Dress.”  I have 4 different but rather classic versions of the LBD, and whenever I am in doubt, I always go with one of them.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Handling Grease Fires

Last month was Fire Prevention Month, and we shared tips on how to reduce the chance of a home fire throughout the month as well as through a blog post on a cooking-related fire.  While this is another post on a cooking-related fire, I felt it was important to share.  Read on and you’ll figure out why.

A customer was cooking something on the stove, using oil, and turned her back for just a moment, as we’ve all done.  When she turned back around it was on fire, so she called to her husband to help.  His instinct was to take the pan and get it out of the house.  As he grabbed the handle, his wife accidentally got in his way.  As a result, he stumbled and hot grease flew out of the pan, hitting them both, and causing the couple to both have third degree burns.

“Trying to move a fire outside is a common mistake and can cause serious injury and possibly lead the fire to spread,” explained Phyllis Taylor, A Cleaner World Roanoke’s Fire Restoration expert.  Phyllis went on to say that while cooking oils are not flammable, once they reach a certain temperature, they can ignite and burn rather intensely.  She has a particular set of cooking rules she absolutely lives by, and she shared them with me:
  • Keep a fire extinguisher, in working order, in your kitchen at all times.
  • When cooking, always have the lid that goes with the pan sitting nearby so you can use it to smother out a fire.
  • If you don’t have a fire extinguisher or a lid, you could try to use baking soda to put out the fire.
  • Never, ever take your eyes off, turn your back, or leave the room when cooking something.
  • Never pick up or move a pan that is on fire.
  • Don’t try to be a hero.  Fires can get out of control quickly.  If you feel a moment’s hesitation on what you should do – then just get out safely and call 911.
And as one final follow up, Mike Taylor, Phyllis's husband and Managing Partner of A Cleaner World Roanoke, added these words of wisdom: “A watched pot never burns.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Vintage Clothing

I said to my sister the other day: “Did you know that 80’s clothing is now considered vintage?”  The look on her face said it all, which made me burst into uncontrollable laughter; I couldn’t help myself.  I remember wearing all that stuff – big shoulder pads, skirts with leggings, crazy jewelry, very big hair, and blue eye shadow.  At the time, we thought we were ‘in-style’, and now I look back and think we just looked ridiculous.  But there’s actually value in vintage clothing.  There are lots of vintage pieces that can be worn at any time, and they still look just as lovely and elegant as the day they were first brought home by their original owner.  Furthermore, unlike the inexpensive clothing we seem to find out there today, vintage garments tend to increase in value over time.  That’s because they are made better than most clothes that are made today, plus you’re not going to see someone else walking down the street wearing the same dress as you.

So what exactly is ‘vintage’?  Vintage clothing is anything at least 25 years old, and any clothing item over 100 years old is considered antique.  I am the furthest thing from a vintage clothing expert; I just know what I love, and I absolutely love polka dots, black and white, and dresses from the 1950’s.  And if it’s all in one dress, then look out – I’m buying it. But if you’ve never purchased a vintage garment, then it can be a bit overwhelming.  So we’ve come up with a few basic tips to help you get started.
  • Look at these items to know that a garment was manufactured before the mid 1960’s -- metal zippers, side-snap closures, saw-toothed edges or pinked seams, and union labels printed in blue.
  • Two things have changed greatly over the years – sizing standards and undergarments.  Many times the appropriate undergarments make all the difference in ensuring that a garment actually fits correctly.  Some vintage garments may not look the same today if you don’t have the proper undergarment to wear with it.  It’s also important to point out here that if you just love something but it’s not proportioned just right, it is likely that you can have it tailored to give it a more custom-looking fit. 
  • Do research, know your eras, and make sure what you are choosing fits into your style.  This is so important.  Vintage items can be quite pricey, and you want to be sure you are making a purchase that is a good value.  This also means knowing whether the garment is in good condition or not.  Be sure to feel the fabric and make sure there is no cracking, pulling, or fading or that the fabric is fragile. 
  • There are lots of places to begin shopping – obviously online, but check out local auctions, vintage shops, flea markets…….and your grandmother’s attic.  There’s no telling what she has stored up there.  
If you decide to give it a try and you end up finding that perfect vintage garment that you simply cannot live without, but you see it needs a bit of TLC, drop it by one of our locations and let one of our trained staff members take a look at it.  We’d love to help you bring a treasure back to life.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Recycling Old Carpeting and Rugs

Too much ‘stuff’ makes me crazy.  I have lots of clothes, so when I buy new clothes or shoes, I try to purge the same number of items so my already large wardrobe doesn’t endlessly continue to grow.  Whenever Gray gets new toys, we see what he can ‘live without’.  Earlier this year, we decided to replace our like-new leather living room furniture with something more comfortable, and before we even purchased our new sectional, we’d already sold our current furniture, leaving the room empty for well over a month.

That’s how I like to roll – not letting our house explode at the seams.  But now we are talking about replacing some carpeting and a rug.  Before I could even think about what I want, I had to resolve an issue that would eat at me until I had an answer to this question: What will we do with the old stuff?

There is a group called Carpet America Recovery Effort that has an online tool with a map of recyclers that will take old carpeting.  Before just showing up with your old carpet, call first to see if there is a cost associated with recycling your carpet.  If you have a small amount or just a few scraps, you could put them to good use with these ideas:
  • Turn them into furniture movers.  Cut old carpet in small squares and place a square under dresser, bed, or chair legs and then pull the item across the floor instead of having to lift and carry.
  • Save your knees.  Roll up a piece and use it to kneel or sit on when gardening or doing yard work.
  • Create a comfy place for Fido by turning it into a bed for your dog.
  • Use it to clean the gunk, dust, and dirt in your window screens by dipping a piece into warm, sudsy water, and rub the pile side onto the screens.
  • Place scraps of carpet under the feet of laundry machines to reduce noise.
  • Use small pieces inside a dollhouse or even a playhouse or treehouse.
But before you decide to cut up your old rug, check into having it cleaned first to see if you can bring it back to life.  Our 6-step professional rug cleaning process helps extend the life of your rug by removing dirt that will scratch the rug’s fibers and leave your rug looking dull and lifeless.  To see if your rug can be saved, drop it by one of our locations or call Greg Henderson at 336-804-0045.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Avoiding Wedding Day Mistakes

Who remembers that movie with Jennifer Lopez called “The Wedding Planner”?  My favorite scene in the movie is when she opens her suit jacket to reveal this kit full of supplies – needles, thread, duct tape, breath freshener.  It’s sort of a cheesy movie, but I’ll admit loving it solely because of her ‘wedding preparedness kit’.  But the truth is, as much advanced planning as goes into a wedding, things will inevitably go wrong.

Just thinking back over the years, between my own wedding mistakes and others that I’ve had to experience, I’ve put together a little list of things to remember, four on the actual day, and one after. 
  1. Skip the horse and carriage.  One of my dearest friends had a horse and carriage drive her and her new husband from the church, through town, to the reception.  The wedding party followed along behind on a ‘hayride’.  It took so long to get to the reception that many folks left.  If your reception is at a different location, allow for drive time and photos, and offer your guests something to snack on while they wait.
  2. Invest in a professional photographer.  That’s something we didn’t do, and it is my one big wedding regret.  We had a small but lovely ceremony and Matt’s uncle and cousin took photos.  In retrospect, it seems unfair to have asked them to spend the day behind the camera, plus they weren’t exactly trained photographers.
  3. Make sure you can be seen.  My college roommate was incredibly shy, and when she got married, if she wasn’t holding her bouquet too high, she was sinking back into her veil.  If you choose to carry a large bouquet, make sure you are carrying it low enough so that when you look back at your photos, you can actually see your dress.  Same holds true for the veil.  Make sure it frames your face instead of hiding it. 
  4. On the big day, follow Mary Fiore’s (aka Jennifer Lopez) example and have a small emergency kit with a needle, thread, safety pins, scissors, hem tape, lint roller, stain stick, static guard, and baby powder nearby.  These items will help with most garment-related wedding day emergencies.  I can speak from personal experience.
  5. Don’t leave your gown hanging unclean in your closet, in a plastic poly bag, for 11 years.  Have your gown cleaned as soon as possible after your wedding.  The longer you wait to have it cleaned, the less likely it is that all the stains can be removed.  I’m fortunate that I didn’t ruin my gown by this careless move.
While many of these tips we can’t help you with, we can help you with the last two.  First, we can perform alterations and prepare your gown before your big day so that, hopefully, you won’t need to use your emergency kit.  Second, cleaning and preserving wedding gowns is one of our specialties.  To learn more, check out this article on Wedding Gown Cleaning and Preservation or stop by one of our locations to speak to a manager. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Preventing Cooking-Related Fires

There are so many good-quality pre-made products at the grocery store these days that most people are surprised when I tell them all the things I make myself – bread, jelly, vanilla, marinara, salsa, cakes, soap.  You get the idea, but one thing I’ve never made from scratch is molasses.  One of the biggest reasons is that it takes a lot of work to get the amount of juice you need to process a batch that ultimately results in not a lot of the finished product.  The other big reason is it requires lots of watching and waiting.

But one of our Roanoke customers is way more patient and industrious than I am, and he decided to give molasses making a go.  It can take several hours for the excess water to boil out of the juice to make the molasses, and unfortunately our friend fell asleep during the process.  As he and his wife slept, the mixture continued to cook down, started smoking, and ultimately ended up leaving a burnt chemical smell throughout the entire house.  There are no photos to share from this disaster because there was no smoke residue at all.  The damage was a pungent odor that soaked into all this couple’s textiles – clothes, furniture, curtains, carpet, rugs.

The National Fire Protection Association reports that 40% of all house fires are cooking related – usually leaving pots or pans unattended on the stove.  A Cleaner World cares about you and your family, so we wanted to remind you of these important cooking-related safety tips:
  • Never leave cooking food unattended.
  • Always set a timer when cooking.
  • Be sure to keep cooking surfaces clean to prevent food and grease buildup.
  • Avoid wearing loose fitting clothing when cooking.
  • Keep flammable items away from your stove and oven.
  • Always have the appropriate lids for your pots and pans nearby in case you need to smother or cover a fire.
  • Check your kitchen before leaving or going to bed to make sure all appliances are off.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen and check it periodically to ensure it is not expired and is in good working order.
  • Install a smoke alarm near your kitchens and test it monthly.  Replace the batteries at least once a year.
To learn more about A Cleaner World’s Fire Restoration Division, check out the FAQ section of our website.  Should you experience the devastating effects of a home fire and need help, please feel free to give us a call

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Premium Rug Cleaning Process

Let’s be honest here – who really gets excited about having to have their rug cleaned?  At A Cleaner World, we love to clean rugs.  Seriously.  We also love going out of our way to make the rug cleaning process as easy, convenient, and painless as possible by offering choices.  First, with our 33 locations, you can drop off and pick up at the location that’s most convenient for you.  If perhaps your rug is too large for your vehicle and you live in the Triad area, we will gladly come pick it up from your home.  Simply call our office at 336-992-0700 or Greg’s mobile number at 336-804-0045.

Not only will you get convenience, you’ll also get a qualified and certified technician cleaning your rug in a state-of-the-art facility.  In fact, here’s a blow-by-blow of just how well we’ll go about professionally cleaning your rug:
  1. Before cleaning, we will thoroughly inspect your rug, including the fringe and back, for tears, holes, missing stitching, damage to the fringe, damage from pets or insects, and any dye bleeding.  In addition, we dye test the rug to ensure there will be no issues during the cleaning process.  If we discover any issues, we will call you immediately before moving forward with the cleaning process.
  2. We remove any dry soil with a special and unique piece of equipment called the Rug Badger, which gently vibrates the rug from the back, allowing fiber damaging particles to fall out of the rug and then be removed with vacuuming.
  3. Next we will use special detergents to gently hand wash your rug.
  4. After washing, we use a specially designed indoor river system and cold water to rinse your rug thoroughly, continuing the process until the water runs clear.
  5. Once the rinsing process is complete, we use a specially designed water extraction procedure to extract as much water as possible from your rug.  This is an important step as we all know that wet rugs that sit around for too long will eventually mildew and possibly dye bleed.
  6. If your rug has fringe, we will clean, detail, and refresh the fringe using specially designed detergent and non-chlorine bleach after the initial drying process.
  7. Finally, after your rug has sat on our drying racks for 4-6 hours, we perform a final inspection where we make sure all soil was removed, no spots were missed, all odors were removed, and there’s no dye bleeding.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Transitioning to Your Fall Wardrobe

I’m always sad to see summer come to a close; I’m definitely a warm weather person.  There are a number of reasons for my love of summer – the slower paced days, the fact that I’m cold natured, but the biggest reason of all is that I like summer clothes far better than winter clothes.  Transitioning your closet to a new season is never a fun job, but if you follow our recommendations, your favorite fun wears will be ready for you again next spring.  But before you start packing your things away, consider this – not every piece should be stored away until warm weather returns.  As you pack things up, take a look at your tanks, t-shirts, and dresses to see if you have some pieces that will still work during fall.  For instance, tanks might look nice layered under a sweater and dresses could be matched with a cardigan or jacket. 

For those items you definitely want to store away, here’s what we recommend:
  1. Make sure your summer clothes are properly cleaned before placing them in storage.  Even if you only wore something for a few hours and it looks clean, make sure you launder or dry clean it before storing it away.  If you’re not sure if you wore something or not, be sure to launder or dry clean it before storage.  The bottom line is that unless you are certain it is clean, launder or dry clean it.  A garment can look clean but have invisible stains like a clear beverage spill or sweat, both of which will turn yellow over time.  Plus these, along with dead skin cells, will attract moths and other insects that will want to feed on the dirt on your clothes while they are in storage.
  2. Break your clothes into two categories – fold and hang.  Fold things like sweaters, shirts, and some pants and dresses to reduce the chances of stretching and distortion.  Hang things like blazers, suit jackets, and some dresses, avoiding flimsy wire hangers and instead opting for wooden suit hangers or strut hangers with shoulder guards so that items will not become misshapen.
  3. When placing your garments into the appropriate container, use clear plastic bins with air-tight lids for your folded items; they seem to work best for keeping both pests and moisture out.  For items that will hang, never use our plastic poly bags as they will suffocate your clothes and possibly cause staining or mildewing; instead, opt for garment bags.
  4. Choose the storage location carefully.  Never place your clothes in a damp basement or a non-climate controlled attic; try to find a dark and dry place with a consistent temperature.  Extreme temperature variations could eventually damage your clothes, and too much sunlight can also cause color fading or yellowing in whites.
  5. Finally, use cedar chips or lavender and rosemary sachets to help keep your clothes smelling fresh and as additional help in warding off pests.
If all of this seems like too much work, then A Cleaner World will be glad to handle it for you.  To learn more about storing out-of-season garments at A Cleaner World, simply click here or stop by one of our locations and speak to a manager.  We’ll be glad to help make this semi-annual task much easier for you.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Top 5 Reasons to Use Professional Dry Cleaning

I tend to get emotionally involved with my clothes.  I know it’s crazy, but I somehow remember important events and happenings based on what I am wearing.  For instance, a few months ago I pulled out a dress similar to this one because, well.......I really paid too much for it and hadn’t worn it in quite a while.  We were going out for Italian food, and I said to Matt, “The last time I wore this dress, we went to that awful 1980’s Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre.”  We then spent the next few minutes laughing and talking about how the food was not so great, the murder mystery part was goofy, and yet we had lots of fun that evening.

Now I have another story for that lovey dress; I wore it again, and this time I spilled spaghetti and meatballs all down the front of it.  On occasion I do listen to my own advice, so I simply scraped off the excess and left it alone.  It was late when we got home, so I just laid it across the dryer to deal with later.  Looking at it the next morning, I knew I had a big job ahead of me – the combination of tomato sauce along with the grease and oil in the meatballs and cheese would mean multiple attempts.  Or I could simply take it to A Cleaner World, which is what I did, and here’s why:
  1. Grocery store pre-treaters typically cannot break down oil-based stains but dry cleaning can break them down easily.  One of the biggest advantages of dry cleaning over laundering is its knack for dissolving grease and oil stains.
  2. Because dry cleaning uses fluids instead of water, natural fibers won’t swell so there is less of a risk for shrinkage, distortion, dulling of colors, and change in feel.
  3. Dry cleaning is much gentler than cleaning your clothes in a traditional washing machine, especially on delicate garments.  Clothes experience less wear and tear when being dry cleaned, keeping them looking newer, longer.
  4. There’s less risk than if you try to remove a stain yourself.  I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve ruined a garment thinking I could remove the stain only to pull the color from the fabric.   
  5. It’s easier.  Ironing is one of my least favorite tasks, and it seems I’m not alone.  I checked a number of sites and found relatively close numbers on all, stating that 70-76% of the population claims to hate ironing.  When I take my clothes to A Cleaner World, I drop them off dirty and then pick them up in impeccable condition – no more ironing!
   

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Color Loss Thanks to Bleach

Back in 2011, I shared a story about how my uncle thought imparting this important tip was too obvious to put out on social media: "Chlorine; pool water; cleaners with bleach, ammonia, or peroxide; and even some toothpaste have bleach that can remove color from your clothing." His answer was something like this, "Well isn't that information sort of obvious?"  Apparently it wasn’t too obvious because shortly thereafter, I managed to ruin a pair of yoga pants by splashing toilet cleaner on them.

Recently I managed to ruin another garment again, thanks to carelessness.  Unfortunately this time it was one of Matt’s shirts.

Have you ever had this happen?  You notice a few splotches of discoloration on a garment and think, “How in the world did I do that?”  If it is color loss in a confined small area, then it is likely that it was exposed to an oxidizing agent.  Oxidizing agents are found in all kinds of every day products like hair care, acne solutions, medicine for skin issues, cleaning agents, and bleach.  Many times you won’t notice the color loss until after the item is washed and then exposed to heat in the drying process.  Unfortunately, this color loss is permanent.  It may be possible to cover the area by using a dye pad or pencil or by re-dyeing the garment, but an easier solution is to simply use caution when using these products.  Here are a few things I do to try to guard against this discoloration happening to my favorite things:
  • Brush my teeth and use bleach on my teeth while still in my bathrobe
  • Wear old clothes when getting my hair highlighted
  • Wear old clothes when cleaning, especially when cleaning the bathroom
  • Put on an old apron when dealing with bleach for laundry
How do you avoid messing up your clothes?  Share some of your tips below or on Facebook, Twitter, and G+.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Caring for Your Outdoor Rug

Using an outdoor rug on a patio, deck, or porch or in a sunroom is a great way to compliment an outdoor seating area, and it allows you to extend your entertaining and family space far beyond the walls of your home.  Most outdoor rugs are made of synthetic fibers like nylon, polyester, and polypropylene and are designed to withstand the elements, but they still need regular attention and care.  Below are some cleaning tips to help you keep your outdoor rug looking like new.
  1. Just as with your indoor rugs, the number one thing you can do to keep your outdoor rug looking nice and have it last longer is to vacuum it regularly.  This will keep the dirt and grit from becoming embedded in the fibers, resulting in fiber abrasion and color loss.
  2. Occasionally pick the rug up and clean underneath to prevent damage or abrasion from the bottom.
  3. Clean all spills as quickly as possible so that they don’t become permanent stains.  Because it is an outdoor rug, it is likely water-resistant, but be sure to check the care label before using this method to remove a spill.  Start by blotting up as much of the spill as possible using a clean, white cloth or paper towel.  Next, mix up a gentle soapy solution using cold water and a mild detergent like Woolite.  Gently blot the soapy water onto the area using a clean, white cloth.  Be sure not to scrub or rub too firmly.  Finally, rinse the area thoroughly with plain water and blot dry with a clean, dry, white towel.
  4. If you plan on storing your rug away during colder months, be sure to clean it before putting it away.  Again, be sure to check the tag for water-resistance.  To clean your rug, place it on a clean hard surface, and mix up a gentle soapy solution using cold water and a mild detergent like Woolite.  Use a soft, white cloth to gently clean spots, stains, or dirt, and then hose off the rug.  Hang it over a clothes line or railing to allow it to dry.  Make certain it is completely dry before placing it back on the floor or before rolling it up for storage to prevent mildewing.
Of course, if cleaning an entire rug seems like a daunting task, A Cleaner World Carpet and Rug Cleaning will be happy to take care of it for you and run it through our 6-step rug cleaning process.  Simply contact Greg at 336-804-0045, and he will gladly come pick up your rug and return it to you once it has been cleaned.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Dying Art of the Persian Rug

I worry that in our fast-paced, mass-produced society, we’ve lost interest in and sight of quality.  Let’s take furniture for example.  Every time we look for a new piece of furniture, it seems like so much of it is lightweight, not durable, and made of inexpensive wood veneer.  I am thankful that my husband is quite the craftsman because on a number of occasions when I’ve seen something I like but discover it is poorly made, Matt builds it for me.  How about appliances?  Recently, we had to purchase a new refrigerator.  Matt, being the curious guy that he is, started asking the delivery man lots of questions about home appliances.  I mostly tuned out the conversation because, well, I’m a woman, and I’m really not interested in how an appliance works – I just want it to work.  But I do remember him saying that they don’t build things like they used to.  He told Matt some story about a 1950’s refrigerator and ended by saying that refrigerators these days last about 8 years.

Now it seems that same mentality is impacting the handmade premium rug industry.  According to an article Greg Henderson, General Manager of A Cleaner World Rug & Carpet Cleaning, sent me, this holds true at least for the Persian rug market.  Below are a couple of excerpts from The New York Times article entitled, “The Persian Rug May Not Be Long for This World.”

‘But now, Mr. Sedghamiz said, the end is near. Ultimately he said, it is modernity — that all-devouring force that is changing societies at breakneck speed — that is killing the Persian carpet, Iran’s pride and joy. “People simply are no longer interested in quality.”  Or in paying for it, he might have added.’

‘“These days, everyone is seeking quick satisfaction and simplicity, but our carpets are the complete opposite of that,” Mr. Sedghamiz said.’

Just like the countless hours Matt has spent and the numerous tools and materials he has purchased to build my end tables, buffet table, and entertainment unit, an authentic Persian rug also requires a significant investment in labor and materials.  Rugs.tenthousandvillages.com stated that the amount of time invested completely depends on the type of rug, but they gave an example of a 9’ x 12’ Persian rug that has 500 knots per square inch, saying it would take 4-5 artisans working 6 hours a day 6 days a week roughly 14 months to complete.

The coolest piece of furniture Matt has ever built was an entertainment unit for the family farm house.  But this unit isn’t your ordinary piece of furniture; it is a hand-crafted work of art, made of wood salvaged from an old cabin on Matt’s uncle’s farm.  Priceless.  It is a piece that will stay in the family for generations.  He will be proud to pass it on to Gray, along with its story.  A hand-crafted Persian rug is also a timeless piece, each one with its own story, and it can add color and excitement and enhance a room’s décor like nothing else.  More importantly, it will be a cherished item that you will be excited to hand down to your children.  If you are in the market for an Oriental or a Persian rug, before you head to Rugs R Us and purchase a mass-produced rug, think about these reasons for buying an authentic Persian rug:
  1. Because they are really well constructed, they will last for years.
  2. If it is properly cared for, it will increase in value over time.
  3. It will enhance your home’s décor and will never go out of style.
  4. It is something you will always be proud of.
  5. Not only will you have a beautiful rug, you will also have a story and a piece of history to go along with it.
  6. Someday you can hand it down to your children, and they will be excited to receive it.
If you’re thinking about purchasing an authentic, hand-crafted Persian rug but you don’t know where to start, email Greg or give him a call at 336-804-0045.  He will gladly answer any questions you might have and help you get started.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Commercial Apron Rental

I’ve mentioned before that my son likes to dress the part – no matter what he’s doing.  Perhaps the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  While I don’t normally concern myself with those kinds of details, I might make an exception when it comes to cooking.  I think I’ve mentioned before that I’ve become a bit of a foodie.  I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and I always wear an apron when cooking.  I wear one partly because I am messy and I don’t want to ruin my clothes, but also because it makes me feel more official – like I could actually be The Next Food Network Star.  I have a bunch of aprons, mostly thanks to my mom who likes to keep me supplied in cute kitchen gear.  But if I’m to be completely honest, I’d love to come up with some sort of logo and name for my home kitchen and have it embroidered onto a commercial-grade apron.  So imagine how excited I was when on a recent visit to A Cleaner World Uniform and Commercial Services, I saw these:


It’s funny because I’ve seen these aprons worn by the staff at Cheesecakes by Alex, and I had no idea that we were the ones supplying them.  I’ll admit that I was a bit excited.  Mike, the General Manager of A Cleaner World Commercial Services, is not only passionate about what he does, but he too can be a bit of a foodie.  So we started having a little fun with all of A Cleaner World’s food-related supplies, and my son Gray was a really good sport about the whole thing.
And as we had him try on different items, I asked questions and before you knew it, I actually learned a few things.  Here are 5 reasons why your restaurant, bar, bakery, or candy making business might want to consider using A Cleaner World’s commercial apron service:
  1. We offer a wide variety of styles including full aprons, which are upper chest to mid-thigh length and half aprons, which start at the waist and can be as long as you’d like – even to the floor.  They come in 5 assorted colors, with or without pockets, so you can match your restaurant’s décor, and we will be glad to add your company’s logo if you wish.
  2. We will set up a rotation based on your needs – once a week, every other week, or once a month.  You tell us what works best for you.
  3. Front of the house aprons help with branding, give your business a more polished appearance, save your employees clothing, and keep things more sanitary.  Plus, if an employee spills something down their apron – no worries, they can simply change aprons and continue working.
  4. Not only do we have front of the house aprons, we can also provide chef’s aprons, pants, and coats, with or without logo and can add a name or title as well. 
  5. As a restaurateur, you and your staff don’t have the time or supplies to try and remove all the food stains that can get on an apron or chef’s clothing.  A Cleaner World can get out stains that the average home washing machine can’t.  We’ll return all these items to you spotless, in like-new condition.
If the foodie in you needs some help with restaurant-related aprons, towels or uniforms, give Scottie Springer a call at 870-6299 or 992-0700.  He will be glad to answer any questions you might have.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Wedding Gown Preservation Really Works



This is Glenn Batts, Manager of the A Cleaner World on Leesville Road in Raleigh.  Glenn is a garment care miracle worker.  With 35 years of experience in this industry, he’s seen and fixed just about every problem you can imagine. 

I called Glenn several weeks ago because I wanted to verify that some information I was about to put on our website was indeed correct.   My questions prompted him to share this story with me, and I thought it was a story worthy of repeating.  It proves that properly preserving a wedding gown is really worth it.

Roughly 10 years ago, a bride brought in her recently worn wedding gown for cleaning and preservation.  Glenn cleaned, preserved, and placed the gown in our special chamber box, according to our customary procedures.  Not too long ago, the bride brought the dress back in, still in the box, to be freshened up because her niece wanted to wear it at her wedding.  Glenn offered to remove the dress from the box, examine it for any stains that might have oxidized, re-clean it if necessary, and then re-press the gown.  When he removed the dress from the box, he said it looked just exactly as it did 10 years ago when he originally placed it in the chamber.  There was absolutely no need to re-clean it, so he simply pressed the gown and had it ready when promised.  The niece wore the gown, and then after her wedding, they brought it back to his store to be re-cleaned and preserved and placed inside a new chamber for another someday wedding.

I hear stories like these and I think, “Wow, how amazing. Why did no one tell me?”  Well, no one told me because our store managers do this kind of stuff every day; to them, it’s just business as usual.  I started drilling Glenn with questions to which he pointed out that his focus is always on taking care of the dress and the customer, not snapping photos.  So no photo to share – just the story, along with one piece of advice from Glenn: “It does matter where the wedding gown is stored.  Never place them in an attic or basement where they are subjected to extreme temperature changes, humidity, and insects.  The best place, I think, is to slide it under your bed.”

If your wedding gown has been sitting in a closet covered in plastic for far too long, drop it off at one of our locations and let one of our skilled managers take a look at it.  You never know who might want to wear your gown someday.
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