KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Jul 06 2010

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Cleanliness is…

Here’s a practical question for you:

When you’re designing products, how much time are you spending educating your clients on how to care for them?

Here’s the call we received some years back: “I love my kitchen/bath/dining cabinets, but I’m noticing that the finish on my cabinets is getting dull and milky. Is the finish faulty?” (Now isn’t that the last thing you want to hear?)

No, the finish wasn’t faulty. The culprit turned out to be the cleaning lady and her misunderstanding that cabinets already come with a finish. It turned out that she had been furiously scrubbing and oiling the cabinets with a popular brand-name oil. Removing the oil helped, but the finish had definitely lost some of its luster. This could have been avoided if we’d simply asked who would be cleaning the new kitchen (and how).

Unfortunately, this one cleaning lady wasn’t alone. Most cleaning methods are a generational throwback, whether the clients are cleaning their own homes or not. Just as we no longer need to wax our floors, we also don’t need to use our grandparents’ cleaners to get the job done.

Cleaning companies are generally the most misinformed, which isn’t good, as their commercial cleaning supplies typically contain some of the harshest chemicals available. Why not avoid it by spending some time to say, “The great thing about these new finishes is that they don’t need extra elbow grease, so here’s what to do….”

Here are 3 of the top problem areas:

Cabinets and furniture: The finishes of almost all manufactured pieces today react horribly with bleach (horribly as in they turn black). Cautioning your clients to avoid anything with the words “bleach” and “heavy-duty” and “ammonia” should be a must at the end of every project. (One really only needs a mild dish soap and water.)

Counters: With laminates, abrasive cleansers can scratch off the top finish. With manufactured tops such as solid or quartz surfaces, full-strength bleach or harsh chemicals can potentially break down the binders and resins holding the top together. For stones, we’re all pretty good at suggesting stone cleaners and sealers, yet in our showroom, one of our cleaning companies used a commercial cleaning spray in…for the front-desk marble counter. We might remove the top one day, but for now, the dull and completely scarred surface is perfect for displaying what can happen.

Mirrors: Full-strength anything (especially common brand-name window washers with ammonia, or even plain vinegar) will darken or de-silver material off the back of the mirror if the cleaner is allowed to drip onto the edges. This is especially true if your mirror rests on a backsplash.

Check the owner’s manuals, or contact your product rep. for cleaning recommendations.

Until next time~


This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 6th, 2010 at 6:00 AM and is filed under Kitchen Design, Products. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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