I am often brought into a company by either the customer or the building service contractor to provide an independent consult on perceived performance issues and possible remedies that can be implemented by both parties. I usually try to evaluate the actual capabilities of the onsite supervisor and the floor techs since they are crucial to most contract success.

On a recent site visit, I spent about 45 minutes discussing and clarifying the difference between “neutralizer” and “neutral cleaner” which really should be fundamental to any knowledge base. As you may know, neutral cleaner is a mild detergent with a pH of around 7.5-8.0 and is used for basic cleaning and floor mopping since it will not damage floor finish. In comparison, neutralizer is a mild acid (think powered Tang without the sweetness and coloring) that is used to bring the pH of stripper down from 10-12 to as close to 7.0 as possible before applying finish. Yes, in the old, old days we used a cup of vinegar to accomplish this task. He, and he is not the only one, was using the terms interchangeably and was actually directing his staff to mop neutralizer on a floor with finish. The end result was gradual etching that was damaging the shine.

The floor tech was using a “little stripper” in his rinse water for his finish mops since they were not coming clean with simple rinsing. His employer was too cheap (yes I said cheap) to provide him with clean or laundered finish mops. The end result of this company’s floor program was a very dissatisfied customer due to the following missteps: 1) the contaminated finish mops were damaging the floor finish as it was being applied resulting in low gloss and short life and 2) the neutralizer being used in daily mopping was etching and dulling the shine rapidly.

I was finally able to convince the BSC to implement better training and purchase/laundry all mops to protect the floors. We calculated that the additional labor in the last year lost to these two practices would have bought mops for at least 8.5 years or more. Go figure? As always your comments and suggestions are welcome. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net.