The Science Behind Water Solubility and Power Washing Detergent
Why Are Commercial Cleaning Solutions So Strong?
- More Powerful Properties: Commercial cleaners often need to have better performance to handle commercial jobs. In turn, the surfaces for commercial buildings, fixtures, fabrics, and other surfaces are more durable and can handle the stronger chemical exposure. For example, commercial detergents can have over twice as much bleach in a mixture because operators can safely handle that formula, and it creates a more powerful clean suited to commercial applications.
- Saves Time and Money: This practice also reduces packaging waste, inefficiency due to refill purchases, and other incidental costs that accompany pre-mixed detergent.
- Less Water Use: Detergents and water are mixed together to dilute the detergent. If manufacturers add water, it weakens the product beyond what commercial users may need. In general, commercial users require a smaller water-to-detergent ratio than consumers.
Mixing chemicals together in almost any context can be dangerous, and this is especially true for powerful commercial detergents that include caustic or harsh ingredients like bleach. Remember — water is also a chemical, so you and your team need to be aware of what reactions to expect when mixing cleaners and water together.
First, water has a set surface tension. The same forces that make raindrops bead together can stop water from running evenly across a surface. Detergents act as a surfactant to reduce water tension. However, it's important that the surfactant be applied to an appropriately low concentration.
Water also has a set tolerance for solubility. Solubility is the measure of a material's ability to be dissolved. Water can only hold so much of a given cleaning product before more can't be dissolved and evenly distributed into the solution. As chemical cleaners or detergents become more concentrated, the amount of water required for ideal solubility becomes higher.
Anyone in your organization who handles cleaning products needs to be aware of how much water should be mixed with a given unit of cleaner to achieve optimal safety, cost savings, and effectiveness; mixing the chemical with less water won't necessarily produce a beneficially stronger cleaner.
Another important attribute of water to consider is its ability to hold chemicals at different temperatures. Water can hold more detergent when it's hot compared to when it's cold. If you add the same amount of detergent to equal volumes of hot water and cold water in different machines, the hot water more powerfully reacts to the characteristics of the detergent and more efficiently utilizes the cleaner; the cold water, however, can only dissolve a smaller portion of the cleaner, ultimately reducing its cleaning potential.
Some best practices for using detergent in water are:
- Ensure that the cleaner is mixed with at least the minimum amount of water recommended for the concentration.
- Use it in hot-water applications whenever suitable.
- In hot-water applications, the ratio of water to detergent may be higher because it takes less detergent to generate the same effects as a cold-water application.
- Be careful to not use too much detergent, as that can result in wasted product and money, as well as potential damage to the equipment and cleaned surface.