cleaning is on the top of the list of things to do in most
households. The Soap and Detergent Association gives the following
house means cleaning surfacesfloors, walls, windows,
rugs, appliances and many more. Except for rugs and upholstery,
most household surfaces are "hard." Technically,
household cleaning is "hard surface cleaning."
clothing, which is laundered by immersion in a detergent solution,
household surfaces stay in place and must be cleaned in place.
Household cleaners are, therefore, formulated to satisfy the
requirements of cleaning-in-place with ease and efficiency.
read the label on the package to understand the specific soils
and surfaces the product is formulated to clean, how to safely
use it and how much to use.
in a home are made of many different materials including painted
walls, wood furniture, vinyl floors (waxable and no-wax),
vitreous china, porcelain enamel, stainless steel, plastic
laminate (Formica®), plastic, acrylic, fiberglass, chrome,
and carpets and rugs woven from wool or synthetic fibers.
are equally numerous and varied. Grease, oil, tobacco smoke,
soap scum, mildew, mud, pet stains, food spills, accumulations
of lime scale from hard water and just plain dust illustrate
the variety of soils that need to be removed.
may be very light and more or less uniformly distributed,
such as dust on furniture or soils on a floor in a light traffic
area. There are also soils which are heavy and concentrated
in a relatively small area: in a dirty oven, for example.
single product can provide optimum performance on all surfaces
and all soils. Thus, it is not surprising that many different
household cleaners are available in the marketplace. They
are formulated to clean efficiently and conveniently in the
many different situations found in the home. Some are designed
for more general use, such as all-purpose cleaners, while
others are designed to work best on specific surfaces and/or
cleansers are designed to remove relatively heavy amounts
of soil often found in small areas. They come in powder and
liquid form and contain a kind of built-in elbow grease, which
helps cut down on the hard rubbing required to remove soil.
Scouring pads are also included in this category.
abrasive action is provided by a variety of ingredients: small
particles of minerals or a network of fine steel wool, copper,
nylon or metal particles imbedded in a matrix of solid plastic.
degree of abrasiveness of products varies. Over an extended
period of time, the overuse of some abrasive cleansers can
remove the glaze or coating from some surfaces. Always read
and follow the surface manufacturer's instructions before
using a product.
cleansers disinfect surfaces. They include an antimicrobial
agent to reduce the bacterial population that lives on soiled
surfaces. Such agents can include pine oil, quaternary ammonium
compounds or sodium hypochlorite. Such products will be labeled
"disinfectant" or "kills germs." In order
to use this labeling, these products must be approved by and
registered with the Environmental Protection Agency.
cleansers have a long established place among household cleaners.
Their cleaning and polishing action is provided by fine particles
of minerals, such as calcite, feldspar, quartz and silica.
In addition, powdered cleansers contain small amounts of surfactants
for removing oily soils, such as the greasy film often found
in sinks after dishwashing. Where removal of food, beverage,
or mold and mildew stains is required, a bleaching agent is
usually present. Where removal of rust stains is a performance
feature of the product, oxalic acid or sodium hydrosulfite
may be present.
cleansers are a suspension of solid abrasive particles in
a thickened liquid matrix. They contain more surfactant and
softer abrasives than are found in some powdered cleansers.
As a result, their abrasive action is usually more gentle
pads, like powdered cleansers, are products with a long history
of use. In the most widely used types, a ball of fine steel
wire provides the scouring action. For chemical cleaning and
as a polishing aid, the steel wool pad may be filled with
a cleaning mixture whose principal ingredient is soap.
on metal surfaces, the soap and metal pad can provide effective
cleaning and a pleasing shine. On continued use, the cleaning
mixture is used up and the pad begins to corrode.
scouring pads are made of noncorroding materials, such as
a mesh of copper, stainless steel wire or nylon, while others
are a plastic material imbedded with small particles of abrasives.
These pads are not impregnated with a cleaning mixture and
rely on mechanical action alone.
scouring pads consist of a cellulose sponge with a polyurethane
backing. These pads significantly reduce the scratching of
Non-abrasive, all-purpose cleaners are marketed in different
forms. They are offered as powders that can be dissolved to
the proper strength and as liquids that can be diluted or
used full strength. The newest powders and liquids are concentrated
products. Liquids are also available as trigger sprays, in
aerosol cans or in pump-actuated bottles.
cleaners can also contain antimicrobial agents to provide
disinfectancy. Such products will specify on the label that
they "kill germs" or "disinfect" and must
be approved by and registered with the Environmental Protection
or liquid cleaners, mixed with water, are most often used
on fairly large washable surfacesfloors, painted walls,
countertops, woodworkwhere accumulations of soil are
relatively uniform. For heavy soiling, more concentrated solutions
can be prepared. Liquids may also be used full strength.
major ingredients in non-abrasive cleaners are surfactants
and builders. A surfactant's presence is noticeable by the
appearance of foam, particularly in diluted water solutions.
All-purpose cleaners are generally formulated to produce only
a moderate amount of foam, which makes rinsing easier.
most all-purpose cleaners work best in alkaline conditions,
they often contain an alkaline buffer salt, such as sodium
carbonate. Sodium carbonate can also function as a builder.
cleaners can also contain other ingredients, such as ammonia,
pine oil and organic solvents like ethanol or isopropanol.
cleaners are designed for use on smaller washable areas. Soiled
walls around switch plates, chrome fixtures, appliances and
cooktops are examples. Like the dilutable products, sprays
are formulated with surfactants and low levels of builders;
most contain an organic solvent. The combination of surfactant
and solvent makes such products particularly effective on
cleaning need not be an over-whelming task if the right products
are used for cleaning.