Cleaning products: a brief general approach

The essential components

A detergent usually consists of a number of essential components:

  • The carrier:

The carrier is the diluent for the active components. Usually water is used, but sometimes this can also be solvents, such as petroleum. The purpose of the carrier is to dilute the active substances, so that they can be dosed into manageable quantities. Excessive dilution is wrong, because the effect will be too weak. An excessively high concentration is also wrong, because in that case separation occurs.

  • Surface active substances:

These substances decrease the surface tension.

  • Acidic or alkaline additives:

These additives increase or decrease the pH-values.

  • Specific additives:

These additives are necessary to achieve a perfect end result.

Each of these components is chosen in function of the cleaning process and each have their own separate cleaning characteristics.

Specific additives

Additives are additions, other than the basic substances, which improve the effect, the appearance and/or the properties of the detergent.

There are a number of possible additives:

  • Corrosion inhibitors:

These inhibitors prevent for example that the added acids in an anti-corrosion agent corrode the metal, so that only rust will be removed without damaging the metal. Generally, the corrosion inhibitors ensure us that there is no rust or corrosion.

  • Complexing substance:

These substances convert the insoluble calcium salts into water-soluble substances, so that lime is prevented.

  • Tickeners:

Tickeners are sometimes added in order to improve the commercial aspect of the product. Sometimes, these additives are also used to improve the adhesive strength on vertical walls, so that the acting time is increased.

  • Anti-redeposition agents and dispersants:

These additives ensure that the loosened dirt will not be deposited back onto the surface which has to be cleaned and they keep the loosened solid contaminants in suspension.

  • Antioxidants and preservatives:

These additives are added to counteract the aging process and to extend the shelf life of the product.

  • Foam inhibitors:

These inhibitors ensure washing at high pressures and flow rates without foaming.

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