Aqueous means water. A water-based or aqueous cleaner is a cleaner that increases the ability of water to clean. An aqueous cleaner uses blends of detergent compounds with surface active agents together with other cleaning chemicals that use detergency to lift soil from a surface by displacing it with surface active materials that have a greater affinity for the surface than for the soil. Water, considered by many to be the “universal solvent,” is an important component of aqueous cleaners because it dissolves many types of soils. Water—municipal tap water, deionized or distilled water depending upon the cleaning application—also functions as a carrying medium for detergent compounds.
But, while water is capable of dissolving many inorganic and some organic contaminants, not all residues dissolve readily in water. For this reason, aqueous detergent cleaners are complex mixtures specifically formulated to create greater chemical and mechanical cleaning action. Water is a polar solvent. Being polar is the characteristic that makes it good at dissolving a wide range of polar residues, contaminants and/or soils.
Water has a unique V shaped structure with two hydrogen atoms at the top of the V and an oxygen at the bottom. One can think of the oxygen as being a large, dense electron rich atom. This gives the entire water molecule an overall net negative, electron-rich end at the base of the V (d-) and an electron poor positive end (d+) of the molecule towards the hydrogen top of the V. This directional net-negative charge towards the base of the V is called a dipole moment. Polar molecules such as water have a dipole moment. Alconox, Inc manufacturers a full line of aqueous cleaners widely used in a range of industries, including pharmaceutical and medical device.