INFLATABLE SET UP AND TAKE-DOWN INSTRUCTIONS – INFLATABLE CARE AND MAINTENANCE
How to Set-up
- Check ground for a flat level surface void of any rocks, sticks, pine cones, etc. (Anything that may puncture the bottom of the Inflatable). Also check height clearance for trees, power lines, or overhead obstructions. Tarps should be placed underneath all inflatables before proceeding to Step 2. NEVER operate the Inflatable on a hard surface without under padding.
- Unroll the inflatable in the direction you wish the Inflatable to face.
- Unfold the inflatable and attach the blower(s) to the “Port” (extended air hose / blower tube). The “Port” is generally located in the very back or on the sides of the Inflatable. Tie off any additional “Ports” by turning the material clockwise and tying the Port to itself. (Rope can also be used to close off additional Ports. Some inflatables allow you to tuck away additional ports).
- Close All Velcro / Zipper compartments.
- Attach heavy extension cord(s) from power source. (Designate One 20 amp fuse for each blower. Generally, this equates to One 110-volt Outlet for each blower.) Use 14 gauge or heavier extension cord(s) that extend no more than 100 feet from the inflatable to the power source. (The lower the gauge number, the thicker the cord. Most household / garden extension cords are 16 gauge and are mot sufficient and can harm the blower- reducing the air source to the inflatable.)
- Turn the Power on. (Some Blowers have an on/off switch located on the blower.)
- While the Inflatable inflates, check to make sure no air is escaping from vents or ports.
- Check to make sure the port (air hose) leading to the blower is not twisted.
- Secure the inflatable by staking the unit on all 4 corners. Drive stakes half way in at a 45 degree angle away from the inflatable. For larger inflatables tie-outs will need to be staked.
Safety Instructions / Operation
- Adult supervision is required at all times. NEVER leave the inflatable unattended or unwatched.
- Most inflatables only allow 4-5 Guests on the inflatable at a time. (Check inflatable instructions.)
- Guests MUST remove shoes, pocket items, glasses, jewelry, etc.
- Diving and flipping are strictly prohibited. No back flips, roughhousing, horseplay or bouncing against walls. Guests should not take unnecessary risks.
- No food, drink, or gum on or in the inflatables.
*The Inflatable should not be operated if winds exceed 20 mph.
*The Inflatable should not be used in rain or lightning conditions.
How to Take down
- Check for any loose items left on the inflatable. (Sweep or vacuum where appropriate.)
- All Guests should be completely clear of inflatable. Including: stakes, flagging, weight bags, etc.
- Turn off or unplug blower. Disconnect the blower from the inflatable.
- Open all velcro / zipper flaps, vents, and ports to allow air to escape and the inflatable to deflate. Deflation time varies on the inflatable. (10 – 20 minutes is normal.)
How to Roll an Inflatable
The Key to a good roll is to fold the material neatly in to the middle of the inflatable.
- Fold all material toward the middle of the inflatable and find the bottom seams of the inflatable.
- Fold the inflatable like a large bed sheet. Be sure to tuck all colorful designs inside your folds to avoid contact with the ground.
- Fold sides in 2-3 feet lengthwise.
- Continue to fold inflatable from the outside-in until folded layers overlap leaving a fold of 2-3 feet.
- Tuck in any extra material. (Leave ports out to allow air to escape as you roll.)
- Walk air out of the inflatable by walking on the inflatable towards the port (blower tube). (Doing so pushes air and allows air to escape.)
- Where the inflatable roll is to end. tuck in rope or strap that is to be used for tying. The rope or strap should be tucked 2-3 feet underneath inflatable. (Doing so will allow you to not lift the entire roll to tie off.)
- Begin rolling from the furthest point away from the port (blower tube). (Doing so forces air to escape as you roll.) Roll as tightly as possible. Keep the roll lined up, tuck any in extra material, and do not allow any part of the roll to sag. Loose rolls are difficult to move. Take your time and roll it tight.
- Tuck in Ports (Blower tubes).
- Tie off roll with rope or strap. Tuck in hoses and any extra material. Place in bag when applicable.
- Placing in a bag: Turn inflatable to a “standing position”, pull bag from the top down to ground level. Rotate inflatable in bag for transportation.
Cleaning Inflatables! (We suggest to do this on a weekly basis.)
Admittedly we’ve tried the easiest ways we could find. We’ve also tried the fastest. I believe we have even done it the hardest way, and we’ve done it the hardest way several times more than once. Once we got the hang of it, cleaning inflatables became second nature and we are now providing our customers with clean respectable units that we’re proud to offer!
Introduction of Cleaning and Maintaining
Cleaning and maintaining an inflatable can be a daunting task especially for someone new to the business and not sure of how often and to what extent these cleanings should be. A good point to remember however is that a clean inflatable that is in good repair is always more highly recognized by customers and helps build a good name for our business so we take great pride in the cleanliness and appearance of our inflatables.
There are generally a few types of cleanings and maintenance routines that should be performed. It is very important that anything other than a “quick” cleaning, or “spot” clean be documented for maintenance purposes as well as for legal protection.
What Cleaning Chemicals Should I Use?
There are as many different cleaning products as there are inflatables and some can be harmful to our units or more importantly can be harmful to the occupants or users of the inflatable. You need to make sure that any cleaner you use is free of bleach or chlorine which will weaken the threads, methyl ethyl ketone which will break down the vinyl and weaken its integrity, or any cleaner which specifically states its use is not intended for soft or pliable vinyls. Avoid any cleaner with caustic agents in them.
Some of the most common agents used by operators include, greased lightning, orange blast and simple green. Eco friendly cleaners such as the citrus based cleaners do a wonderful job of removing often hard to clean substances such as tar, grease paint or face paint and sticky candy or gum residues. Another benefit is the orange aroma they emit which is much more pleasant than harsh chemical odors. You’ll also want to make sure that any cleaner you use is safe for human contact and does not leave any residue behind. Any cleaner used should contain a disinfectant or a disinfectant should be used after cleaning the unit for sanitary purposes. Sometimes units are set up in parks or locations near fire pits or barbeques and a smoke removal solution is needed to remove the smoke odor. Make sure this is done immediately so the odor does not remain in the unit.
A specialty cleaner available in most boat and marine stores is Nautical Ease Inflatable Cleaner which is made specifically for PVC vinyl’s like those used for rubber rafts. This agent is excellent for helping maintain the pliability of the vinyl and removes the oxidization often associated with the red colors and other colors as well. Another cleaner is Matt Kleen which is used widely in schools and institutions for cleaning and disinfecting mats and padded surfaces.
Spot / Quick Clean
One of the first methods for cleaning is actually prevention. No matter what the surface set up area may consist of, grass, asphalt, concrete, gymnasium floors, tile, sand, dirt, etc., you want to keep as much of the substance out of the unit as possible. Providing a large enough ground cover such as a tarp, piece of outdoor carpet, etc., usually does a good job but will not stop everything from entering the unit.
At each entrance/exit place this material on the ground, make sure it is properly secured in place and no trip hazards exist. This ground cover should be big enough to allow for participants to move around the entrance, put on and take off their shoes and footwear and wait for their turn in or on the units.
Moving onto the first method of cleaning we cover the “quick” or “spot” cleaning. This generally takes place before the rental period at the customers location, or after the rental period at the customers location. Customers love to see you cleaning a unit and it assures them that you take them seriously by providing a clean unit. Do not be afraid to let the customers see you clean the units. The major purpose behind spot cleaning is to prepare the unit for its next use.
For a spot cleaning it is advised you start from the inside of the unit and work to the outside. This way anything inside that gets pushed outside does not dirty a freshly cleaned exterior area. Using a soft bristle broom, sweep everything to the outside walls and then to the corners or exit where you can sweep it to the outside. A vacuum may be used and often is by many operators. Most portable cordless vacuums will maintain a charge good enough to clean 2-3 average units. Some use small 1 1/2 to 2 gallon canister vacs which will fit through most entrances.
After removing the large debris, dirt, etc. Use a wet rag and your cleaner of choice to wipe down all areas that customers come into contact with. The mattress floor, the exit and the supporting columns. Move to the outside and wipe down the entrance, the mattress and the base of the unit and columns. This is a perfect time for some quick inspection of the unit for any damage that may have occurred, or any material failure due to normal wear and tear. This is not a substitute for a deep cleaning or thorough inspection. Make sure the unit is completely dry before rolling and storing. When rolling the unit, you may want to quickly wipe down and check the bottom of the unit. Again, make sure the unit is dry before storing.
Thorough / Deep Clean
The second method of cleaning is the “deep” or “thorough” cleaning. Its hard to determine how often you should deep clean a unit as it is based on the use of the unit. How often its rented out, your rental season length, what types of set ups, etc.. It may be a couple weeks, or it may be a month or two. We deep clean ours once each month, with the units being rented out about 9-10 times each month. A thorough inspection of the unit is advised before a deep clean is accomplished. We’ll cover the inspections in another section of the web site.
For a deep cleaning it is recommended you do this on a soft surface where water can not puddle up, or a hard surface where the water can easily run off. This will aid in the drying of the unit. Several methods are used for deep cleaning. We fully inflate each unit, then deflate the unit so the roof area is flat. There are many portable mops and such, avoid those with harsh scrubbing pads and sharp metal. We start with a mop and bucket of water with cleaner in it. We completely rinse this off and then inflate the unit. We then work on the inside of the unit and thoroughly cleanse every single surface, rinsing it well. Cleaning the mattress area last. We then move to the outside of the unit and do the same starting from the top and working towards the bottom. If you use a pressure washer, make sure you use the absolute lowest pressure setting you can and maintain a great distance from the fabric. Pressure washers can literally wash away any protective coatings and can cut the fabric and ruin the threads.
It is important that the unit has ample time to completely dry. Both inside and outside the unit. It helps to use some dry towels or even car wash chamois cloth to dry off as much of the unit as possible. pay special attention to seams and crevices where different parts of the moonwalk meet each other such as roof support tubes and the roof itself. The seams will hiss and spit, and you will see large bubbles form. This is completely natural. The unit may take upwards of all day to dry depending on the weather. A nice dry sunny day is always the best. In cooler temperatures some folks have placed a small heater near the blower, set on LOW, so the warm dry air helps dry the unit from the inside out. Do not operate a hose near teh heater. make sure no standing water is in the area if you choose to do this.
The other method is very similar to the spot cleaning method, however, you are using the rag and spray method to clean all of the surfaces. This is completely acceptable but may take up precious time especially when you have multiple units to clean. Either way, make sure the unit is completely dry before you roll and store it. If your units are equipped with zippers, leave one open to aid in the drying of the unit. This applies for units caught in rain storms, sprinklers, or other wet situations as well. These units should be dried out as soon as humanly possible to prevent mold and mildew from forming.
Face Paints, Mold or Mildew
Some of the most major concerns with cleaning units seems to be the never ending face paint issues, or the silly string battle. For face paints, orange blast has always worked well for us. Quickly and efficiently taking it all off. Other agents include skin so soft by avon, goo gone and goof off. For silly string, prevention is the best method. We flat out tell rental customers it reacts with the vinyl almost like an acid and is not allowed in or near the units. We actually have recently added a separate form outlining the cleaning and damage charges for this product. The cleaning agents mentioned may remove it, but the vinyl becomes damaged regardless. You may not visibly see it right away, but the vinyl’s protective fire retardant coating is ruined and the vinyl loses strength as well as resulting many times in permanent discoloration of the fabric. Silly string takes a lot of scrubbing and hard work and areas as small as the safety ramps can take hours.
Another major threat to your units is mold and mildew. These culprits usually manifest with longer term storage and by the time you discover them you have a real mess on your hands. This why it is important to store your units dry and away from causes of moisture. Most citrus based cleaners will do a good job of removing mold and mildew but stains may still persist. We have successfully used a home version of a steamer to remove as much as we possibly could, and felt comfortable returning the unit to full service. With a steamer you have to be very careful not to get too close to the material at first. Slowly work towards it and wipe away the steam and water continually with a dry rag or cloth, preferably white in color so as not to have any dyes bleed onto the material. Steam is hot so please be careful.
The most common items being, vomit, urine/feces and blood. And keep in mind this may be as simple as a drop or two, a band-aid, or worse.
There are many solutions with which to clean these materials with, and many can be dangerous to skin contact during and after clean up. Check you products you choose carefully and make sure they kill all germs, bacteria, and the HIV virus as well. A simple solution of of bleach and water will do the trick efficiently if properly applied. The solution should be no less than 10 percent bleach which is recognized world wide as sufficient to kill these harmful agents. 20 percent is recommended as the maximum for our equipment.
The first thing is to make sure you wear appropriate universal precautions. This includes latex or latex free gloves, eye protection, and even a nose and mouth mask similar to those used in hospitals. You should have no open wounds, breaks in your skin, etc.. If so, these should be covered. You will need ample clean rags, the solution, and a couple of garbage bags. Preferably a small garbage can so you do not have to handle the bag with contaminated gloves when placing materials inside.
The first step after donning your protective wear is to use a clean rag and wipe up as much of the material as possible. Then throw away the rag. Never re-use them in any cleaning step. Spray an ample amount of the solution, or apply it with a dampened rag, not soaking, and wipe the immediate area. Throw this rag away. With another rag, slightly expand the cleaning area. Expand the area once again with a third rag and cleaning solution. This should be the only incident in which bleach makes contact with your thread. Blood and other substances may leave stains, just be aware that if properly cleaned they will not be hazardous.
Next, you should seal the garbage bag and then place it inside another garbage bag along with your protective gear which you should dispose of in accordance with local or state laws. In many cases such as the small amounts you’ll see, the household garbage may suffice. Some localities may require the material be placed in a special container and taken to a specialized dump area. Check just to be on the safe side.
After you have finished cleaning, wash your hands a minimum of 15 seconds, rubbing vigorously with an anti-bacterial soap. You may also follow this up with a alcohol based hand lotion/cleaner for added assurance. Make sure any clothing that came in contact with this material is thoroughly cleaned as well in a similar solution. Do not take your personal health for granted. Your health is worth more than any equipment you own.
Tricks We Advise To Use
Here a few tricks we advise to use:
- Goof-off – works miracles on greasy, oily, or sticky spots such as scuff marks, tree sap, gum, hard candy, etc. Be advised this product can sometimes pull some of the color out of the vinyl and temporarily make the vinyl feel “sticky”. This is due to the solvents effect on the vinyl. Test on an inconspicuous area first, then let the area dry out for at least 10 minutes for the vinyl to return to normal.
- Bleach (diluted with water). Works well on mildew stains, biological messes (urine, feces, vomit) and really bad “funk”. Dilution ratio depends on the severity of the problem, but it can range anywhere from 10% bleach to 50% bleach. You must rinse thoroughly with water when finished.
- Degreaser – A good degreaser, properly diluted, when used with a medium-stiff brush will scrub out ground-in dirt and grime that the degreaser and a towel alone will not remove. Also test in an inconspicuous area first and make sure to rinse with water before drying.
- When all else fails: Mr. Clean Magic Erase Bar – works well on some (not all) ground-in dirt or stains. It will brighten up “dingy” vinyl in some instances. USE AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE AS THIS ALSO REMOVES THE TOP LAYER OF THE MATERIAL!!!