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By definition, you are removing soil from a surface, whether that soil is dirt or pizza sauce, or whether that surface is the kitchen counter or your pants. There’s only one other item in the cleaning equation: the cleaning solution. In the cleaning process, the cleaning solution interacts with the soil, breaks its connection to the surface, and safely washes it away, restoring the surface to its original state. Of course, there are many variables when it comes to cleaning. Soils and surfaces vary wildly, and you wouldn’t have enough room under your sink to store a specially formulated solution for every surface/soil combination. So the cleaning industry has formulated products that work effectively on most common soils and surfaces encountered in any given cleaning application. What’s in a Cleaning Solution? A cleaning solution has to be fairly versatile and suitable for dealing with a variety of types of soils. For example, water normally does not work well to remove an oily soil, such as a greasy mess on the stovetop. So, to enhance the power of water a number of ingredients can be added to form a more effective water-based solution. Surfactants, solvents, and chelants mixed with water will improve its ability to dissolve the oily soil. Builders, bleaches, and enzymes can be added to water to chemically modify the oily soil to make it more soluble in water. The optimal combination of these ingredients in water will deliver a truly powerful cleaning solution. Feel like you just got hit with a bunch of vocabulary? Here’s a quick tutorial.
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Builders: Compounds that adjust pH to optimize cleaning performance and contribute to suspending soils. Bleaches: Compounds that oxidize and remove soils and lighten the color of stains. Enzymes: Biological proteins that speed the breakdown of soils. Surfactants: Compounds that allow cleaning solution to wet surfaces, emulsify greasy soils, and lift away dirt. Solvents: Organics that dissolves soils. Chelants – Compounds that bind with metal ions in solution (e.g., calcium and magnesium found in soap scum).
The cleaning solutions you use to clean your countertops, windows, and bathtub all likely have at least one or more of these “clean-boosters” in their ingredients. The more “cleanboosters” there are in the solution, the more versatile it is. The Math Behind Cleaning
and their impact on the environment. you won’t get a sore arm. Before commercial products are released to the public. or creating water soluble soaps with basic or alkaline compounds Softening of water to neutralize the negative effects of calcium and magnesium hard water Adding enzymes and/or bleach to attack stains Cleaning with solvents in combination with or in place of water These factors are often used together to maximize effects. you’ll have to scrub harder. Use What You’ve Learned! Next time you attack a sink full of dirty dishes. Chemical Energy Explained You can tell the difference between scrubbing hard and barely scrubbing. if you don’t want to scrub very hard. safety. For example. Thermal energy comes from the temperature of the cleaning solution. If the water is cold. such as hot soapy water. but still want the same Total Energy that gets the dirty surface 100% clean. think about what goes into getting those dishes spotless. imagine washing a dirty dinner plate with a sponge and some soapy water. and the difference between hot water and cold water.Did you know cleaning is more than just chemistry? There’s actually an equation that determines the total amount of energy it takes to properly clean something: Total Energy(Cleaning) = Energy(Mechanical) + Energy(Thermal) + Energy(Chemical) There are three types of energy that combine to create a clean surface. but if the water is hot. Mechanical energy comes from you. and you won’t have to scrub very hard! . Crank up that thermal energy by using hot water. But how does chemical energy vary? Cleaning formulas provide chemical energy through: • • • • • • Wetting of the surface and soil Emulsification of oils Saponification. scrubbing away. the final cleaning products are tested extensively for performance. So. bump up the chemical energy by using a dish soap specially formulated to clean greasy food residue. Chemical energy is what the chemicals in cleaning products bring to the equation. you need to raise either the Thermal energy or the Chemical energy.
green can means all of those things. Cleaning products have been getting “greener” through innovation and continuous improvement – long before the “green” movement was even around! Green Cleaning – It’s Not Just Black & White Years ago.” “Green” products are lining store shelves. and the cleaning products industry are all working together to improve the products that you use every day. we have been working on developing more environmentally-sound cleaning products for more than 50 years. But does homemade always mean “green”? Is green always safer? The amount of information out there can be overwhelming. Although Green Cleaning has only been fashionable for the last decade or so. which is very “ungreen. Producing and packaging a useless cleaning product is a waste of time and energy. the idea of green cleaning means using products that are better for the environment. “green” was simply what you got when you mixed yellow and blue. the EPA. The cleaning products industry has understood the importance of biodegradable cleaning products since the 1950s. and dispose of cleaners with people and . Today. state legislators. In the 1990s. the word “green” can mean “environmentally friendly. you need to understand and be able to evaluate claims on a label.” A cleaning product that does not clean well is not good for the environment. the industry removed all CFCs from aerosols. To most of us. however. So what is “Green Cleaning?” Green Cleaning is the commitment to make. But better than what? And what makes a product “good” for the environment? Green=Clean? So what exactly does it mean to be green? Does “green” mean considered safe for humans and animals? Does it mean that a product is made from plants and not petroleum? Biodegradable? Less packaging? Recyclable? Yes.” If you want to buy cleaning products that are environmentally friendly. use. products became more concentrated (“ultras”) which reduced packaging. In the 1970s. But green must also mean “effective.How Do I Know if a Cleaning Product Is “Green?” The good news is that environmental groups. “Green” certification criteria are generally available online by the certifiers. and the Internet is abuzz with tips for green living and step-by-step instructions for making your own “earth-friendly” household cleaning products.
and you follow all product instructions and dispose of the product properly. Consumer product manufacturers consider not only the potential hazards of the individual ingredients but also the complete product recipe and how it is used. Individually. the user. Many cleaning products are proven to be beneficial in removing common indoor allergens including dust mite and cockroach excrement. Read the product label carefully and follow all directions for safe and effective cleaning. Myths If even one ingredient of a cleaning product is hazardous to people or the environment. As an example.cfm?id=9&sub=24&cont=344. pollen. mold spores. Regular cleaning using commercially formulated household cleaning products to help minimize indoor asthma and allergy triggers can help manage the symptoms associated with asthma and allergies. egg. some ingredients may be irritating to the skin if used alone so manufacturers blend in other ingredients to reduce irritation (like using lemon juice blended with sugar to give the desired lemon flavor without the undesired sour taste).org/public/media/press/cspa_ace_asthma. Household cleaners are a leading cause of indoor asthma and allergy attacks. .org/display. taste nothing like a cake and in fact.aafa. put them together in the right order and right ratios and viola! Cleaning products work the same way. baking powder. For more information. The product label is the best indication of how hazardous a cleaning product is to you. tobacco smoke. etc. Manufacturers combine ingredients not only to create effective cleaners but also to minimize potential hazards. But. You are making your world a little greener when you use a cleaning product that is safe and effective. salt. please visit http://www. Think of the ingredients in a cake. flour.pdf and http://www. then the whole cleaning product is hazardous. Cleaning products are more than just the sum of their parts. and pet dander from surfaces.Dyes play an important role as visual cues that you are using . -Dye and Preservative-Free Cleaners are safer because dyes and preservatives are unnecessary chemical ingredients in cleaning products. most of those ingredients don’t taste good at all alone.the environment in mind.cspa.
then some extra ones are needed to create foam with the air. Those molecules love to be at “interfaces” – places where soil and surfaces meet. Preservatives are used to prevent growth of microbes in the product itself. – A chemical that’s “natural” means it’s safer – Earthquakes and Chicken Pox are “natural” but would you recommend them? It is not the source of a chemical that makes it safe or unsafe. Foam is created by molecules called surfactants. and should not be ingested. but the responsible use of it. It is the structure of a chemical that dictates its behavior and properties. not its source. Preservatives are used to protect the cleaning product and ensure it remains effective. . – if you don’t see foam.if you see foam you have more than enough detergent to clean and you sometimes may have too much. you don’t have enough detergent to clean.the proper product and/or that the cleaner is in fact not just water. With many cleaning molecules. it is possible to create the same chemical structure from a plant or from petroleum. Molecules don’t remember where they came from. As cleaning products become milder to surfaces they also can become “milder” to microbes and may even become food for them. However. A cleaning product contaminated with growing microbes can develop off odors and lose its ability to clean as the microbes eat the surfactants and other active components of the cleaning product. If they are cleaning up stains and dirt off your dishes or clothes. too much foam can make it hard to rinse or in the case of automatic dishwashers and front loading washing machines – can interfere with the cleaning process. Those same molecules can’t be two places at once. Foam gives you the sense of security that you have enough detergent. . water and surfaces meet and water and air meet.
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