Product FAQ

To learn more about each of the topics listed below, click on the title.

General Industrial Healthcare


How can cloudy glassware be restored to its original appearance?

Glassware that appears cloudy or hazy is etched. There is no practical solution to restore glassware back to its original appearance. The etching occurs over time with the removal of metal ions from the surface leaving the silica composition of the glass exposed. To retard or possibly prevent this etching process, do the following: Use minimal amounts of detergent; under load the dishwasher to allow maximum rinsing; use a rinse additive to get the water to sheet off in the final rinse; use the correct water temperature of 140° to 150° F.

The Powell Service Technicians can check your warewash system to make sure the right chemicals are used according to the water pressure, water hardness, and water temperature. They can also check the ppm of bleach in low-temp machines and titrate water in the water tank. Let's face it. Serving food on poor-looking dishes would be better served on paper! Let our Powell Service Technicians help you create positive, memorable dining experiences.

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What makes a dusting tool effective?

Consider these questions. Is a strong person using the dusting tool? Is the person tall or short? How much area does the person have to cover in what period of time? Is the surface high? Is cleaning the only desired end result or does the surface need to shine too? How will the tool be cleaned after use? Does the tool need to have good dirt retention? Is lint a problem? Does the dusting tool need to resist bacterial growth? Finally, is durability important? Dusting tools have come a long way from the discarded t-shirt! Good floor dusting is the first line of defense (after a good walk-off matting system) in hard floor care. An effective floor-dusting tool removes the dirt that gets between shoes and the floor finish. Regular floor dusting prolongs the life of floor finish, maintains good appearance, saves time and saves money.

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What about wet mops?

After dust mopping, wet mopping is the second line of defense in maintaining hard floors. Mop yarn is a key ingredient. Cotton yarn, while inexpensive, requires "breaking in" to remove natural oils. Cotton holds three times its weight in water and becomes stronger when wet. Cotton lint contains pepper trash and is affected by mildew.

Rayon holds up to eight times its weight in water, is unaffected by mildew, and doesn't lint but loses strength when wet. A blended yarn of cotton, rayon and synthetic maximizes the best of all fibers and gives added strength. Yarn color helps hide dirt and helps departments identify its mops.

Another performance factor to consider is wet-mop construction. Tailbands control the overall mop spread. It's possible to cover more floor surface per stroke with a tailbanded wet mop. If you are seeking maximum life and launderability, looped-end wet mops are the best choice. Looped-end wet mops won't shed the way cut-end wet mops do. Floor finish wet mops are made of rayon and synthetic. Such a mop inhibits linting and provides even release of finish. Due to the high-rayon content, a medium floor finish mop will have the weight of an extra large cotton wet mop.

Finally consider the person using the wet mop. Someone weighing less than 130 pounds, works best with a small to medium wet mop (12 to 20 oz.). An individual weighing over 160 pounds may work best with a large to extra-large wet mop (24 to 32 oz.).

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When should you use squeeze wringer versus a down-pressure wringer?

We've heard this before..."Just give me the cheapest wringer!" No problem. But consider the facts. While the side-squeeze wringer works well with any sized mop, the mop must be twisted which is hard on the mop strings. A side-squeeze wringer requires muscle; the down-pressure wringer uses gravity, pushing the water down into the bucket. Usually the worker using the side-squeeze wringer must repeat the wringing cycle a couple of times, and then decide if the mop is wrung out to the desired dryness. Down-pressure wringers offer greater control, allowing for ease of dryness in one-stroke and operator timesavings.

Also notice the position of the handle on the wringer. The side-squeeze handle is on the side of the bucket; a down-pressure handle is closer to the center. A down-pressure wringer is more stable offering less chance of accidents. If efficiency is critical, down-pressure is the only choice.

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Did you know removing dirt is expensive?

It costs nearly $700 to remove one pound of dirt after it has been tracked into a building. Consider that 24 pounds of dirt can be tracked into a building by just 1,000 people during a 20-day work month. Also 42% of floor finish can be removed within the first six feet of an entrance without adequate matting after only 1,500 people have walked in.

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What are the benefits of buying versus renting walk-off matting?

If you are currently renting walk-off matting it's time for an open discussion about the cost saving, higher quality matting that you could be buying. Rental mats are designed first for the rental company's laundry. Rental mats are built on lightweight rubber and will move. All matting The Powell Company sells is built on heavy-duty vinyl. Walk-off matting is extremely easy to take care of because the fibers are built into the vinyl backing. Vacuum a walk-off mat just as you would regular carpeting-it takes seconds! Mats can either be hosed off outside, and will drain and dry very quickly, or they can be extracted.

Here's the real payoff. The average walk-off mat lasts at least three years. If you are renting a 3' x 5' at $2 per week, you will pay $104 per year or $312 over three years. The highest quality 3' x 5' mat The Powell Company sells-3M Enhance 850 selling for $140.96-will be paid for in just a year with a savings of $171.04 over three years! You'll not only get a better looking mat, but a harder working mat that is more effective in helping you keep your building's appearance at top level.

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Which is the best detergent to use?

There are so many choices and variables to consider when selecting the right cleaning detergent. First, consider the surface to be cleaned. Is it porous? How does the surface react to certain detergents? (Always test an inconspicuous area first!) Will the surface "bleed" color with certain detergents? Second, consider how often the surface will be cleaned. Daily cleaning will not require as strong a detergent as weekly cleaning. Heavy finish buildup requires a strong stripper. Third, consider the type of soil to be removed including unseen soil such as bacteria and virus. Fourth, consider the building's environment and the work that goes on. Is it a daycare center or school? Is indoor air quality an issue? Fifth, are environmental issues including biodegradability of the detergent and packaging important?

The pH of a detergent is a measurement/indicator of its acidity or alkalinity. The pH scale runs from 1 to 14, with 7 being neutral. Solutions with a pH of less than 7 are considered acidic while solutions greater than 7 are considered alkaline. The tougher the soil buildup, the higher requirement of alkalinity. The tougher the mineral buildup, the lower requirement for acidity. The pH does not always measure corrosiveness of either acid or alkaline. A 20% sulfuric acid solution and 20% phosphoric acid solution both have pH of less than 1, but the sulfuric acid will burn skin while phosphoric acid may only sting.

Dilution is an important consideration as it will help determine the overall strategic cost, not just the delivered cost. An all-purpose aerosol cleaner at a net weight of 18 ounces per can with a delivered cost of $4 actually has an in-use cost of $28.44 per gallon. An all-purpose 1:64 dilutable cleaner with a delivered cost of $12 per gallon actually has an in-use cost of $0.187 per gallon!

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What are the differences between floor finishes?

"I want my floors to look like that department store...." "Why does my white tile floor turn yellow, especially around the baseboard?" "It seems like I have to strip and rewax my floors every three months. It's killing my budget." The questions about hard floor care are as deep and wide as the hard floor care budget. Nearly 60% of a housekeeping budget goes for floor care.

A floor finish's primary purposes are to: protect a hard floor's surface from wear, prevent microorganisms from breeding in the minute pores of the floor, prevent slips and falls, and reduce time in cleaning. Appearance should be a secondary goal. Choosing the right floor finish is only part of an overall system for hard floor care. Consider all the variables in choosing the right finish beginning with the end in mind. What is the use of the building? What color is the tile? What is the desired appearance? Are people power and tools available for the desired appearance? Is the budget in sync with the desired results? Floor finishes are compounds of polymers, resins and wax. Floor finishes have two solids: total solids or what comes out of the container and non-volatile (NV) solids or the film that is left on the floor. NV solids are one of the keys when comparing floor finishes. Different floor finish compounds yield different characteristics. Pure acrylic floor finish will be the least likely to yellow, but may not give the highest shine. Higher solid floor finishes will give the same amount of protection in two coats as a medium solid floor finish will in three. Higher solid finishes save valuable labor. Floor finishes fall into three categories: soft (which are easily low speed, dry buffable), semi-hard (which are easily burnished) and hard (which are buffable with the use of a moisturizer). Usually the harder the finish the more detergent and black-heal mark and scuff resistant. Softer floor finishes are more grit and powder resistant.

Powell associates are educated in helping you find the answers not only to selecting the proper hard floor system, but solving your hard care floor problems-discoloration, streaking, and poor gloss. Your Powell associate can help you establish a Three-year, No-Strip Hard Floor Care Program. Call 1-800-472-0039 to put the shine back in your life.

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How can indoor environment quality be improved?

It is speculated that nearly 25% of all healthcare problems-allergy and asthma-are related to poor indoor environments. During the energy crisis of the '70s, we sealed our buildings and homes to save money. We trapped more bacteria, fungus, dust mites and other unhealthy dirt inside. Carpeting acts like a furnace filter, a "dirt sink." But unlike furnace filters that get changed regularly, carpeting does not get cleaned nearly as often as it should. Good carpet maintenance begins with a good walk-off mat system (see pages 10 & 11). A good two-motor, upright vac grooms carpet better than single-motor sweepers and leaves exhausted air far cleaner. Finally, hot-water carpet extraction "improves environmental conditions and health protection," per Dr. Michael Berry, Environmental Protection Agency.

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How much paper will a building require?

The average working person visits a restroom three times a day. The average person works 235 days per year. Therefore the average working person visits the restroom 705 times per year. On average: 1.7 C-fold towels are used per visit, 2.3 M-fold towels are used per visit, 2.0 S-fold towels are used per visit and 16" of non-perf roll towel are used per visit. On average two people will consume one case of C-fold towels/year, 2.5 people will consume one case of M-fold towels/year, 2.8 people will consume a case of S-fold towels/year and 7.65 people will consume a 7200 non-perf case of roll towels. It's easy to calculate that non-perf roll towels are the least expensive way to dry a pair of hands by paper. (Warm air dryers can cut the costs even more dramatically!) On average 8.5 people will use one case of two-ply, 96-roll/case, 500-sheet per roll toilet tissue.

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Which Bowl Cleaner Should I Use?

Powell Super Stock includes seven different bowl cleaners-each with features and benefits making it unique. When choosing a bowl cleaner, the safest should be your first concern. The bowl cleaners below are listed from safest to most hazardous. Acids always register 0 up to 7 on a pH scale. Mineral deposits having a pH of 12 to 14 are removed or "neutralized" by acids.

If you are cleaning in an area without hard water or with hard water but cleaning daily, one of Powell's Super Stock disinfectant detergents will work well especially if the toilet bowl's water line is lowered. APC+ is also a good choice. A disinfectant bowl cleaner yields maximum benefits-lowest cost, safest to use, and easiest to use.

The mildest acid is acetic acid. Acetic acid is like the natural acids found in vinegar and citrus fruit. With patience, this acid will remove many mineral deposits. It appears weak, but can actually damage marble! Phosphoric acid is a stronger acid, yet some cola drinks contain mild forms of phosphoric acid!

Bowl cleaners with hydrogen chloride or hydrochloric acid (HCL) are the strongest acid bowl cleaners. The higher concentration of HCL, the more dangerous. HCL-based bowl cleaners will do the fastest job of removing heavy mineral deposits, but they will also "smoke" chrome, discolor nylon carpeting, and may even melt nylon carpeting (and women's nylon hose). Pumie sticks are a safe alternative for removing heavy deposits.

All bowl cleaners and bathroom products listed below are ready-to-use unless noted. Call 1-800-472-0039 for clean toilet bowl solutions!

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How can I control odors?

Offensive odors come from many sources. The best source of odor control is proper routine cleaning using a disinfectant detergent. But what about in-between disinfectant cleanings? The Powell Company has the right odor control for your need. A call to 1-800-472-0039 puts you in contact with a knowledgeable representative.

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How do Unger window squeegees help to clean glass?

Squeegees are not only the best way, the fastest way, and the least expensive way to clean glass, they are truly the easiest way to clean glass. There are no streaks, no lint, no paper towels, no aerosol, no hard work and best of all, excellent results. Squeegees aren't just for glass. Use them to dry off walls, shower walls, kitchen dish machines or anywhere you need to quickly dry a surface!

Our knowledgeable associates can demonstrate window washing using the squeege system. Ask about our window washing video! Match up the squeegee channel and rubber you need with a Pro Handle for the right tool. Strip washers help apply solution to surfaces. Strip washers are great for dusting too.

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Which is the right disinfectant for the application?

For a product to be labeled a disinfectant, it must prove its claims to the E.P.A. When proof is established, the E.P.A. registers the disinfectant and this registration number must appear on the disinfectant container label.

To make an informed decision on which disinfectant is right, consider all of the information. Under General Detergents and Strippers (on page 12 of our General Catalog), pH and in-use cost are explained. The % Actives indicates how much active germ killing ingredient is in the product. Consider the pathogens killed - bacteria, fungus, HIV-1/AIDS virus, MRSA (methicillin-resistant staph. aureus), TB (Tuberculosis bacillus), HVB (Hepatitis B virus), and VRE (Vancomysin-resistant Enterococcus faecolis).

There are all kinds of disinfectant bases including halogens such as bleach, iodophors like iodine, phenolics and quaternary ammonium (quats). Bleach may seem like an inexpensive, all purpose disinfectant, but it has many drawbacks. Bleach is a by-product of chlorine gas bubbled through water containing sodium hydroxide. Bleach is extremely corrosive (pH of 12+) and harmful to human skin as well as surfaces. It is an oxidizer rather than a cleaner. Iodophors, by the nature of their deep brown-red color, stain surfaces.

Phenolics were first discovered by Lister in the 1860s. While extremely corrosive and toxic, their primary benefit is killing Tuberculosis bacillus (TB). Triple-based phenolic detergents are O.S.H.A. Bloodborne Pathogen compliant.

Quaternary ammoniums (quats) are the newest disinfectants and are all excellent cleaners and deodorizers. They have grown in widespread acceptance. The neutral cleaners (pH around 7) will not dull floor finish. Quats have low skin irritation yet broad killing power. Quats make an excellent choice for all-purpose, hard-surface cleaning outside of healthcare. Day care facilities, schools, and office buildings are some of the areas that benefit from quats, especially during flu season. Note that several of Powell's SuperStock bathroom products also contain quat disinfectant bases.

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Does The Powell Company offer educational programs?

Over 90% of housekeeping budgets go to labor and benefits. Less than 10% of the budget goes for cleaning materials. Educating people offers so many benefits including reduced injury, reduced wasted material, increased productivity, and a better return on investment. There is strong evidence that the more hours spent on educating housekeeping staff, the lower the cost per square foot of cleaning. The Powell Company offers 27 topics related to educating people to work smarter-not harder-and achieve excellent results.

Consider these statements:

  • Laying floor finish with a dustmop reduces floor finish waste, cuts refinishing time by 30% and eliminates the need for a bucket and a wringer.
  • One of the most effective dusting tools is a pair of canvas gloves turned inside out.
  • A black light can indicate whether or not your restroom is being cleaned properly.
  • Employee turnover can be reduced with the aid of a Myers-Briggs Type Inventory®.

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How can I reduce sorbent costs?

  1. Choose a high quality sorbent with excellent absorption. 3M sorbents are 100% polypropylene-no filler. This means you will use less, reduce waste and reduce disposal cost. Consider the purchase price, the labor factor and the disposal factor. For example, to pick up 25 gallons of fluid will require 285 pounds of clay granules at 12¢ per pound or $34.20 versus 66 M-PD1520DD pads at 76¢ per pad for a total of $50.16. Now consider the labor for cleanup. Studies indicate it will take nearly four hours to pick up 285 pounds of clay and 183 pounds of fluid (25 gallons). It will take the same personnel just over 30 minutes to remove the same amount of fluid with 6.7 pounds of 3M sorbent! Disposal will be 1.6 drums for the clay and oil versus one-half drum for the sorbent and oil!
  2. Pick the right sorbent for the application. Nonselective sorbents pick up either water or oil while selective sorbents pick up oil only.
  3. Get the right sorbent product for the job. Sorbents come in pillows, booms, pads, rolls, rugs, and rum covers. Using a multi-format sorbent such as 3M™ Folded Sorbent can be used as a pillow, pad, boom or roll to meet a variety of needs and save on inventory.
  4. Get the full benefit of efficient sorbents by allowing them to remain in position longer. 3M™ sorbent in pad and folded forms can be compressed either by centrifuge or wringer and be reused up to four times.
  5. Identify waste streams. Waste disposal costs vary depending on the category and method of disposal. Costs can range up to $800 to dispose of a 55-gallon drum. Don't mix hazardous waste and nonhazardous waste.
  6. Education and training reduces cost, reduces accidents, reduces waste and minimizes stress. Your Powell Industrial Specialist can help you with all of your training needs. Call 1-800-472-0039.

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What should I know about systems sanitation for food chains?

Whether it's meat, poultry, seafood, dairy or other food processing, Spartan has a broad line of cleaners, degreasers, CIP cleaners, sanitizers and equipment to clean and prevent food borne illness. Spartan's labs are "good laboratory practices" compliant and products are tested regularly to meet the needs of the food industry. Most products work in either hot or cold water, and soft or hard water conditions. Spartan products are in compliance with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and are designed to help food processors comply with the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), the Food Quality Protection Act, the FDA Food Code Book, OSHA and other guidelines. Spartan products are concentrated to help reduce costs. Foam Gun and Foam-It® 15 applicators reduce labor time. Your Powell Industrial Specialist can assist you and your employees in hands-on training as well as provide laminated schedule charts to ensure best cleaning practices. Contact your Powell Specialist at 1-800-472-0039.

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How can we manage laundry costs?

BALANCE-Laundry requires balance and maintaining balance. The biggest budget buster in any laundry is linen replacement costs. The longer the life of your linen, the lower your costs. Find the balance to time, mechanical, temperature and chemical to ensure the maximum linen/laundry life.

The ideal laundry formula for getting linens and clothing their cleanest begins with understanding your facility's water makeup. Water hardness and water temperature are critical pieces of information. Next, proper sorting and loading procedures have an effect on outcome. A 50-pound machine should have a maximum of 40 pounds of laundry. Overloading the machine yields poor results and a chlorine carry-over. Under loading a machine wastes chemicals and water and leads to increased fabric wear due to excessive mechanical action.

Consider this: a 100-bed nursing home facility at maximum capacity will create approximately 880 pounds of soiled linens and garments per day. Using a 50-pound washer means 22 loads of laundry per day.

The ideal laundry formula takes roughly 37 minutes and includes flush, drain, detergent introduction, drain, bleach, drain, three rinse/drain cycles (with temperature decrease in each successive rinse to minimize wrinkling) followed by a sour/softener depending on water conditions.

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Which kind of laundry soap should I use?

WHICH TO USE-liquids, powders or solids? Liquids offer excellent dispensing, but are subject to spills, less concentrated than powders or solids and put workers at greater risk. Powders are 100% concentrated, but are difficult to dispense, cake in storage, are slow to dissolve and may cause worker risk with dust. Solids are the new revolution as they can be 100% active, are safest for workers to handle, require less storage, create less service problems and dispense excellently.

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What's the best thing we can do to prevent the spread of infection?

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that hand washing is the single most important procedure for the prevention of infection. (American Journal of Infection Control, 1986). GOJO, maker of PROVON® brand products and PURELL® brand instant hand sanitizer, offers a complete skin hygiene care system for every healthcare environment: acute, subacute, long-term, doctor and dentist offices, clinics and home healthcare. These products help prevent the incidence of nosocomial infections. All products are dermatologist tested. PROVON® brand products and PURELL® brand products are designed to soothe, moisturize and condition hands to encourage frequent hand washing. Their formulations permit frequent hand washing without irritation.

PROVON® uses several antimicrobial agents including 2% CHG (chlorhexidene gluconate), PCMX (para-chloro-meta-xylenol) and Triclosan. What is the difference in antimicrobial agents and which do you use? CHG is a very broad killing antimicrobial including MRSA, VRE and E-coli. CHG leaves a "persistence" on the skin to inhibit bacterial growth. CHG products are used in surgical, intensive care, emergency medical departments and clinics. PCMX, depending on the formula, can have a broad spectrum kill of germs, but is considered less active than CHG. PCMX products are used in nursing homes, doctors' offices as well as schools and public buildings. Triclosan has a narrower spectrum kill of germs than either CHG or PCMS. Many formulas of Triclosan are less active against Pseudomonas. Triclosan products can be used in the same areas as PCMX-based products.

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Will The Powell Company conduct an on site analysis?

Your Powell Healthcare Specialist is prepared to do a site analysis. This analysis will measure current skin conditions and practices, get current perceptions/realities of products currently in use, and establish needed trial/evaluations. Critical to this analysis is determining Wellness Control Points-anywhere hand washing, hand sanitizing and hand moisturizing materials are needed to promote good hand hygiene.

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What should I know about systems sanitation for food chains?

Whether it's meat, poultry, seafood, dairy or other food processing, Spartan has a broad line of cleaners, degreasers, CIP cleaners, sanitizers and equipment to clean and prevent food borne illness. Spartan's labs are "good laboratory practices" compliant and products are tested regularly to meet the needs of the food industry. Most products work in either hot or cold water, and soft or hard water conditions. Spartan products are in compliance with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and are designed to help food processors comply with the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), the Food Quality Protection Act, the FDA Food Code Book, OSHA and other guidelines. Spartan products are concentrated to help reduce costs. Foam Gun and Foam-It® 15 applicators reduce labor time. Your Powell Industrial Specialist can assist you and your employees in hands-on training as well as provide laminated schedule charts to ensure best cleaning practices. Contact your Powell Specialist at 1-800-472-0039.

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