Advanced Cleaning Mechanisms: Detergency and Concentration

Intuition, logic, and maybe even some experiences, can lead us to believe more detergent is better.  These everyday experiences where it might apply include your washing machine, dishwasher, or even your hands in the bathroom sink.  But, what is actually meant by better?  This is where concentration and detergency come into play, terms you may see in our literature and documentation, as well as our responses and solutions to cleaning challenges.

We recommend our detergents’ concentration be in the 1-2% range in most cases, however, we have active recommendations/usage for 0.5% – 5% (and occasionally even higher).  A straightforward explanation is behind this.  Concentration relates to the detergents’ cleaning capacity. Or its ability to remove a given quantity of residue.  Higher concentrations can remove more total residue.  This is akin to the size of the ‘dump truck’ getting bigger.  More precisely, when more micelle forming surfactants, chelating, sequestering, oxidizing, enzymatic, and/or dispersing components are there, the larger the amount of residue that can be handled is.  Increasing concentration has a significant effect on cleaning capacity, but only a small effect on detergency.  

Detergency is the ability to remove a given kind of residue.  If you have a residue that is best cleaned by an acid detergent (ex. starch or oxidation) and you are using an alkaline detergent, using a higher concentration of alkaline detergent is not going to help you clean that acid labile residue more effectively.  Increasing concentration of detergent has some small effect on detergency, but not nearly as much as choosing the right detergent and cleaning parameters.

When residues are tough, adherent or complex, we will likely increase concentration to garner some small increased detergency and ensure proper capacity.  However, increasing heat (with some exceptions), time, mechanical energy and, of course, ensuring the right detergent has been selected will maximize detergency and ensure you have a critically cleaned surface.

As always, we are happy to discuss your particular application in further detail.

To request an Alconox, Inc. detergent for free, please complete the questionnaire at Get Sample. For more information about any one of our Alconox, Inc. detergents, consult the technical bulletin for each product. Or click here to access each of our detergent’s Safety Data Sheets.

Do you have a critical cleaning question for the experts at Alconox, Inc.?  Search TechNotes to see if it’s been answered before or Ask Alconox.

Contact us any time: cleaning@alconox.com



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