Enzyme cleaners are specialized products that help accelerate the process of breaking down organic waste and soils. In addition to helping eliminate stains, they can also fight the pungent odors that accompany many types of decomposing matter. Keep reading to broaden your understanding of how these cleaners work, when enzyme cleaners are particularly useful, and the industries that rely on them every day to keep their facilities clean, safe, and healthy.
What is an enzyme?
Enzymes are proteins that accelerate chemical reactions. Enzymes are highly specific molecules that react with a particular substrate by breaking it down into smaller components. Enzymatic reactions occur everywhere in nature and are vital for most metabolic and biological processes.
How does this help me clean?
Traditional detergents rely on surfactants, the solution’s pH (either acidic or alkaline), builders, and solvents to clean. And there is nothing wrong with that! But sometimes soils can be exceedingly difficult to clean, beyond the effectiveness of traditional detergents. This is where enzymes come in handy.
Enzymes can break down larger soil molecules, like proteins, fats, or starches, into smaller, easier-to-clean pieces. Specially formulated enzyme cleaners, like Zymit® Pro, contain powerful enzymes that break down large soil molecules into smaller pieces that surfactants can easily lift away. It’s important to understand what type of soil you’re targeting so you can choose the correct enzyme cleaner.
Zymit® Pro is a specially formulated enzyme cleaner that contains a powerful blend of surfactants, builders, and protease enzymes. Because protease enzymes break down proteins, this cleaner is especially good at cleaning food and biological soils. Zymit® Pro is formulated with biodegradable ingredients, is solvent-free, phosphate-free, and has a neutral pH. Zymit® Pro is free rinsing and compatible with a large variety of metals, plastics, and elastomers.
A list of uses and industries served by Zymit® Pro include but are not limited to the following:
Zymit Pro Uses:
Industrial equipment and parts
Labware and instruments
Pharma manufacturing equipment
Tanks, mixers, and fluid lines
Zymit® Pro Industries Served:
Filter Membrane Cleaning
Food & Beverage
Forensic & Crime Scene
Pharmaceutical & Biotechnology
No matter your industry, if you encounter tough protein soils, Zymit® Pro is the ideal choice for thorough and effective cleaning. For difficult-to-clean soils that include both protein and starch, Zymit® Low Foam may be the right cleaner for you.
Contact our team for more information or to get help finding the right cleaner for your application.
Comments Off on Choosing the Right Automotive Assembly Lubricant
Hoses, seals, O-rings, belts, pads, bushings, and grommets – what do they all have in common? These parts are all made of rubber and are found within your car.
Automobile assemblies are complex and contain many moving parts. The average light vehicle in the US and Canada contains about 206 pounds of rubber, accounting for around 5% of the vehicle’s total weight (Statista n.d.). That is a lot of rubber! That said, the integrity of rubber components is just as important as that of the other parts in a car. Without using a proper rubber assembly lubricant, you risk tearing, fraying, and ripping your rubber parts. Damaged rubber can lead to costly repairs or worse. The P-80 line of temporary rubber assembly lubricants helps prevent these issues by effectively lubricating rubber parts, allowing the parts to easily slide into place while avoiding the damage caused by friction and force. Other industrial oils and lubricants are formulated with chemicals that are harmful to rubber and your health, including mineral oils and solvents. P-80® lubricants do not contain such chemicals and are a safer choice for both your rubber parts and your health.
All four of IPC’s industrial lubricants are perfect for automotive assembly applications. Because each type of part may require that the lubricant have specific characteristics, below is a brief introduction to our lubricants:
A thick, viscous lubricant that does not drip. Ideal for vertical or overhead assemblies.
IPC is the best supplier of assembly lubricants for automotive applications. P-80® products are also perfectly suited for your other industrial lubricant needs. The technical team at IPC is available to answer any questions or further assist you in selecting the perfect lubricant for your automotive application. Contact us today to get started.
Comments Off on Helping You Choose the Right Solution for Medical Device Cleaning and Medical Instrument Cleaning
Whether your medical device is disposable, implantable, or reusable, it must be cleaned before use. Cleaning medical equipment is a crucial step in a successful disinfecting procedure. IPC offers a full line of precision cleaners, each with unique characteristics, that can provide you with the required level of cleanliness prior to disinfecting. IPC’s cleaners offer many benefits: they’re solvent-free, highly concentrated, economical, easy-to-mix liquids, phosphate-free, and, most importantly, effective.
What should you consider when choosing one of IPC’s cleaners as a medical instrument detergent?
The soil to be cleaned (biological, tissue, fingerprints, oil, etc.)
Cleaning temperature (enzymes can’t be used at high temperatures)
The type of material to be cleaned (to make sure the cleaner won’t tarnish metals, etc.)
If enzymes are preferred
Wash method and if foam is an issue or not (we offer both high-foamers and low-foamers)
Choosing the right cleaner:
For removing oils, fingerprints, and debris from the manufacturing process:
Our alkaline cleaners, including Micro-90, Micro Green Clean, and LF2100, are all effective at removing oily residues.
Micro-90 is formulated with a synergistic surfactant blend and chelants to easily remove manufacturing and process soils. Micro Green Clean is just as effective with its biodegradable formula.
LF2100 is a low foaming cleaner for cleaning applications where a high foam level is not acceptable.
Surface-Cleanse/930 is a surfactant-based cleaner that is safer for many surfaces due to its neutral pH.
For cleaning reusable devices, such as endoscopy equipment:
Our enzyme cleaners, such as Zymit Low Foam and Zymit Pro, would be ideal for this situation.
Zymit Low Foam contains both amylase (breaks down starches) and protease (breaks down proteins) enzymes, while Zymit Pro contains just protease enzymes.
These cleaners are powerful at removing biological debris yet are gentle on your devices.
Once your parts are cleaned and rinsed, you can start the next important step: disinfecting. Ensuring that your cleaning and disinfecting process is effective is necessary for preventing infections and rejections in patients who rely on your medical devices and medical instruments. Although IPC does not offer disinfectants, our cleaners effectively remove tough soils that allow your disinfectant step to be thorough and effective.
IPC can help with establishing a cleaning validation protocol. We offer free samples to help you determine your ideal cleaning solution. See our guide on cleaning medical devices for more information. Contact us for questions, technical information, and more.
Comments Off on Why Food Manufacturers Trust IPC’s Cleaners
Disinfectants and other sanitizing agents cannot adequately sanitize a surface with leftover food residue on it. These contaminants can harbor harmful germs and bacteria. Cleaning removes traces of dirt, debris, and dust and primes surfaces and equipment for disinfection. Simply put, cleaning is just as important as disinfecting, and that’s why selecting an appropriate cleaner is crucial for achieving your facility’s cleanliness goals. The right cleaner will easily remove all food residues and soils so that your sanitizing step is thorough and effective. IPC has several products available to help you effortlessly achieve your cleaning needs.
Why Cleaning is as Critical as Sterilization for Food Manufacturing
Foodborne illnesses are caused by bacteria, viruses, and molds and spread via cross-contamination. Performed correctly, cleaning and sanitizing can protect the health of employees and consumers by virtually eliminating the risk of foodborne illnesses.
Disinfecting uses chemicals, like bleach or quats, to destroy microorganisms, which is why cleaning is a pivotal first step. You need to ensure all of your food processing surfaces are clean enough to have contact with the sanitizer. Leftover food debris or other contaminants prevent sanitizers from adequately reaching the food contact surface and destroying microbes.
Cleaning and disinfecting go hand-in-hand, but cleaning must be performed first since the disinfecting step will not effectively sanitize soiled surfaces or equipment.
Why Manufacturers Trust IPC for Food Processing Cleaning
Manufacturers trust IPC for food processing cleaning because our powerful cleaners are mild and cover a wide range of needs.
We have several types of formulations available, including:
Acidic, neutral, and alkaline pHs,
High and low foamers,
All of our cleaners are NSF-registered A1 general-purpose cleaners.
Since no government regulatory agency controls cleaning and sanitizing chemicals, NSF fills this void by requiring all formulas to undergo formulation, label, and traceability review prior to certification (Dezsi 2021).
Our cleaners are safe for use on stainless steel, glassware, ceramics, most plastics, and more.
Although our non-corrosive cleaners are unlikely to damage equipment, we always recommend our customers test our cleaners first
Extends the potential operational lifetime of equipment when compared to using more corrosive cleaners.
Highly concentrated and competitively priced, our cleaners are an economical solution for cleaning your food processing facility.
A simple 1-2% solution of our cleaners in water makes for a powerful cleaning solution.
We provide free samples and technical support
IPC provides free samples for all cleaning products as well as complimentary technical support to ensure that your plant is utilizing the best possible cleaning procedure.
Our product specialists are experts in cleaning and validation procedures for food processing. We have cleaning validation methods available to help get you started.
Getting Started With Your IPC Cleaner
Once you’ve selected your ideal IPC cleaner, we can show you how to develop a more effective cleaning process for your food processing plant. Contact us for more information, to request a free sample, or for technical support.
Comments Off on The Importance of Cleaning Before Disinfecting
Disinfecting surfaces to kill traces of microbes and disease is a critical concern right now. A common misconception is that simply disinfecting a surface is enough to sanitize it. This is not the case, cleaning and disinfecting are both important parts of a thorough sanitizing process.
Why do both?
Surfaces must be properly cleaned prior to disinfecting. Removing traces of dirt, debris, and dust primes surfaces and equipment for disinfection. Soils can harbor germs and bacteria. Disinfection becomes less effective if surface soils are present.
What happens if I disinfect without cleaning?
If a surface is disinfected before it is cleaned, the remaining soils can still contribute to the growth of harmful microbes and lead to further contamination. The residual soils may also serve as a barrier, preventing the disinfectant from reaching the surface and doing its job. Lingering soils on the surface may affect the active chemicals in a disinfectant, impacting their efficiency. If the surface is thoroughly cleaned first, and validated for cleanliness, the disinfection step becomes much more effective.
What are the steps for proper cleaning and disinfecting?
3 Things to Consider When Selecting the Right Detergent for Your Ultrasonic Cleaner
1. What are the Soils?
Understanding which soils you need to remove will guide you in choosing the right detergent. Micro-90® is an alkaline cleaner that is designed to work well on a broad spectrum of soils. It is extremely effective for removing oil, grease, wax, tar, flux, particulates, and biological debris.
Most commercial critical cleaners are effective in removing dirt, but many are also corrosive, harmful if inhaled, and environmentally hazardous. Safer cleaning detergents will be free of phosphates, solvents, silicates, phenols, and substances of very high concern.
View this video to see the effectiveness of Micro-90 in ultrasonic cleaning.
Using Micro-90 in Ultrasonic Cleaning
Micro-90 is a multipurpose, alkaline concentrate that provides superior performance in ultrasonic cleaning. The ingredients in Micro-90 penetrate tough oils and greasy films, allowing the soil to become suspended in the solution without the risk of redepositing. These properties make Micro-90 just as effective as corrosive cleaners without the health or environmental risks. Micro-90 does not contain solvents, phosphates, or heavy metals. In fact, Micro-90 removes hard metals in water that would otherwise detract from the detergency of the solution.
The ingredients in Micro-90 were chosen for easy validation in an FDA process. Reports can be provided upon request. It is also NSF registered as a USDA-A1 Cleaner. Micro-90 can be used in concentrations as low as 0.5% up to 5%, and concentration can be easily determined by conductivity. Micro-90 has a high cloud point, making it easy to see when parts are clean. When properly rinsed, Micro-90 leaves no residue.
Comments Off on The ABC’s of Cleaning Validation: A Simple Primer
What is Cleaning Validation?
Cleaning validation is used to ensure that a cleaning procedure removes all trace soils, cutting fluids, fingerprints, particulates and cleaning agents from surfaces in regulated processes. Any residue must be removed to a predetermined level of cleanliness. Cleaning validation processes protect against the cross-contamination of ingredients from one batch to another, ensure that surfaces or devices are free of residue prior to any further sterilization process, and assist in ensuring product quality.
Cleaning validation is required for use in industries following Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) as outlined by the US FDA. Manufacturers in the pharmaceutical, medical device and food and beverage industries all use cleaning validation methods to ensure that their equipment is free of waste and that subsequent products manufactured on that equipment are not jeopardized by any remaining soils or soap residue.
FDA guidelines for cleaning validation require specific written procedures detailing how cleaning processes will be validated. These should include:
Who is responsible for performing and approving the validation
When revalidation is required
Analytical methods to be used
Documentation of the studies and results
A final conclusive report stating that all residues have been removed to the predetermined level
If any part of the cleaning process is changed, the cleaning validation process must also be updated.
Cleaning Validation Methods
Various analytical methods can be used to detect cleaner residues on equipment. Each method is unique to the specific cleaner used. Cleaner manufacturers should be able to provide detailed validation methods for their products.
Regulated industries rely, in most cases, on quantitative validation methods. Quantitative validation methods provide measurable and exact results, whereas qualitative validation methods involve more subjective methods, such as visual observations.
HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography)
HPLC stands for high performance liquid chromatography. HPLC validation methods can pinpoint exact ingredients. This validation method uses pressure to force a solution through columns to separate, identify and quantify each of its components.
The columns are filled with a solid adsorbent substance. As the solution is forced through the column, each of its components reacts differently to this substance. This results in varying flow rates for each component in the solution. The sample solution is separated into its individual elements by the rate at which they flow out of the column.
Once the individual components of the sample solution are separated, various types of detectors can be used for identification. Some common detectors include:
CAD – charged aerosol detector
DAD – diode array detector
MS – mass spectrometry
HPLC validation methods separate liquids into their individual components. This information is then used to determine the level of residue of an individual component so that predetermined acceptable levels of cleanliness are met. HPLC is the most common type of quantitative cleaning validation method currently used.
TOC (Total Organic Carbon)
TOC stands for total organic compound. TOC validation methods detect carbon content in a tested sample. The results are not ingredient specific. The amount of carbon in the sample can come from any one of a number of varying sources including contamination, a dirty tank, testing equipment, ingredient residue or cleaner residue. The objective is that the overall results of TOC testing meet the predetermined acceptable levels. Results that exceed the predetermined levels are not acceptable.
UV VIS stands for ultraviolet visible spectroscopy. This detection method relies upon the absorption of light to quantitate chemicals at specific wavelengths. Sometimes, a chemical agent is added to the rinse water sample to make key ingredients visible. Chemicals absorb light differently at different wavelengths.
Methylene blue, for example, is routinely used to react to sulfonate surfactants and detect detergent residue. The intensity of the color is an indication of how much sulfonate remains in the sample.
In the illustration above, the fluid at the top of the tubes shows the water in the solution. The fluid on the bottom indicates the amount of chloroform in the test sample. As the concentration of Micro-90 increases, more sulfonate is being pulled out of the top water level by methylene blue and the methylene blue-sulfonate complex enters the bottom chloroform layer resulting in an increasing blue intensity.
UV VIS is an older technology and is not as used as often as HPLC.
The Role Of The Cleaner Manufacturer
Cleaning validation is a critical part of the manufacturing process in regulated industries. Validation methods must be developed, planned and included in the production method. Since cleaning validation methods are unique to the cleaner used, it makes sense to expect the manufacturer to provide support. By relying on the cleaner manufacturer for detailed validation methods, manufacturers in regulated industries can focus their resources on manufacturing and product development, saving a great deal of time and money.
Comments Off on Save Time And Money With Preventative Maintenance
It’s summer! It’s time to relax and enjoy the warmer weather. Kids are out of school, daylight hours are long, families flock to beaches and it seems like just about everyone takes a vacation.
While summer means various things to different people, for many manufacturers summer means factory shutdowns, plant retooling and scheduled maintenance operations.
What is Preventative Maintenance?
We’ve all been there. Any of these scenarios ring a bell? A long road trip and your car won’t start. You’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner and your oven isn’t working. Or, it’s the worst heat wave of the summer and your air conditioning unit dies. Regardless of the scenario, we can all agree that malfunctioning equipment is extremely aggravating. If only there were a way to prevent these things from happening!
While we can’t prevent all unplanned breakdowns, there are actions we can take to minimize their occurrence. That’s where preventative maintenance steps in. Preventative maintenance refers to regularly scheduled maintenance operations designed to keep equipment functioning optimally throughout the year to help prevent unplanned breakdowns.
Similarly to taking your car to the shop for regular oil changes or servicing your air conditioning unit annually prior to the summer heat, manufacturing plants can take steps to regularly inspect and service their equipment to help prevent costly and untimely breakdowns.
Why Should You Perform Preventative Maintenance?
Simply put, preventative maintenance saves you time and money. Equipment breakdowns are costly and inconvenient. Depending on its function, one piece of malfunctioning equipment can bring an entire plant to a grinding halt leading to lost production and expensive repairs.
Isn’t taking a piece of equipment out of commission to perform preventative maintenance equally as time consuming and expensive? Absolutely not! Sure, maintenance tasks take time and cost money, but planning for them minimizes the bite.
Would you prefer to take your equipment out of commission during a slow period or on your busiest day of the year? Imagine the oven at your local pizzeria breaking down on Super Bowl Sunday. There’s no way to recoup those lost sales!
Parts and labor almost always cost less when it isn’t an emergency repair situation. Having spare parts shipped overnight is not cheap! And, finding service personnel who can drop everything and come right away isn’t always a reality.
Many manufacturing plants shut down for a short time during the summer for retooling in preparation for new production runs. Planning preventative maintenance to coincide with scheduled plant shut downs is a win-win.
7 Benefits of Preventative Maintenance
Increase equipment life
Improve functionality and reliability of equipment
Decrease unplanned breakdowns
Less costly repairs
More productive operations
Maintain product quality
Reduce risk of worker injury
The expression “the best offense is a good defense” perfectly sums up the principle of preventative maintenance. Advance planning keeps costs down and helps keep your equipment running smoothly and efficiently.
Setting Up A Preventative Maintenance Plan
Obviously, every manufacturing plant is unique and each one may have distinct maintenance needs. But, universal considerations that come into play when setting up a preventative maintenance plan include frequency, responsibility, identification of specific tasks and monitoring of the process.
How often should equipment be inspected and repaired? This will depend upon your industry and the type of equipment. Scheduled maintenance is often based upon time intervals, equipment usage, or specific trigger events.
Time triggers are based upon specific calendar intervals. Do you inspect and service the pumps in your plant every three months? Or, do you check the antifreeze in your vehicle prior to the onset of cold weather? Similar to your annual physical with your physician, time triggers are maintenance activities based upon the passage of specific periods of time.
Usage triggers are based upon how and when the equipment is used. Examples of usage triggers are changing the oil in your car every 5,000 – 10, 000 miles, or cleaning the processing lines and tanks in your manufacturing plant after each production run.
Event triggers are marked by equipment performance. In wastewater treatment facilities, filter membranes are often cleaned when their flux rate drops by 10 percent. Other examples of event triggers are sharpening a knife when it becomes dull or filling your car tires with air when the pressure drops below a specified level.
Who is responsible for performing scheduled maintenance services? Are the drivers and technicians that use the equipment expected to perform preventative maintenance activities? Or does your facility have a specified maintenance team that inspects and repairs equipment on a regular basis? It’s important for the entire team to know who to go to for regular upkeep of their equipment.
Identify specific maintenance tasks
What maintenance operations should be conducted on a regular basis? Not only will this vary based upon your equipment and your industry, but it may also differ from one plant to another. A checklist of each and every preventative maintenance task should be developed and followed. Common maintenance tasks may include inspecting and testing functionality, cleaning equipment and replacing parts.
All maintenance activities should be recorded and tracked. This helps in planning future maintenance schedules, estimating and keeping track of costs, and monitoring equipment safety and functionality. Most companies use software designed for this purpose, but manual records can also be used.
When things are running smoothly it’s easy to overlook common maintenance chores and rationalize that it’s not worth the time to regularly inspect and repair parts. But nothing could be further from the truth. Proper maintenance helps ensure that your equipment is working correctly and your facility is functioning efficiently. Investing the time and money to set up and follow a regular maintenance plan will provide long-term savings by keeping your business functioning smoothly and efficiently.
Need help getting started setting up a preventative maintenance plan for your facility? IPC’s temporary assembly lubricants and specialty cleaners are routinely used in preventative maintenance programs. Read more industry specific guidelines here:
Comments Off on How do I Choose the Best Detergent for My Cleaning Application?
It’s easy to see that you have a dirty surface that needs to be cleaned. Figuring out what type of cleaner to use can be tricky! Choosing the right product from the outset will make your cleaning task easier, quicker and more efficient. So, how do you know which detergent to use?
Dirt is Dirt, Right?
Absolutely not! All soils are different and need to be treated properly. A detergent that works well for cleaning grease and oil might not be the best choice for getting rid of soap scum or starchy soils. While some cleaners may work well for a broad spectrum of soils, others may be needed to target specific types of dirt.
Alkaline cleaners work well for organic soils like oils and grease, while acid based cleaners are more effective on inorganic soils such metals and salts. Knowing what type of soil you are dealing with is an important step to choosing the right detergent.
This helpful chart matches detergents to soils commonly found on parts and equipment in laboratories, pharmaceutical plants, food & beverage manufacturing sites, medical devices, filter membranes and manufacturing facilities.
What are You Cleaning?
Glass? Metal? Rubber? Electronic parts? Filter membranes? Understanding how different detergents affect different surfaces will certainly have an impact on your choice of cleaner. It’s important to be sure that the detergent you are using is compatible with the surface you are cleaning.
The manufacturer of the cleaner should be able to provide you with compatibility information for the product you are using.
How are You Cleaning?
The cleaning method you plan to use also plays a role in choosing a detergent. Some of the more common methods used in manufacturing and laboratory applications include:
• Ultrasonic cleaning
• CIP (clean-in place)
• Manual or hand wash
• Automatic washers
It’s important to choose a detergent that works well for your chosen cleaning method. For example, if you are using an automatic washer it’s wise to use a low foaming cleaner. Otherwise you may end up with a room full of foamy suds. While this is great fodder for TV sitcoms, it’s not so funny in real life.
Is Your Cleaner Safe?
There are many cleaners on the market that do a great job at removing dirt, but they contain solvents and other harmful ingredients. Look for cleaners that are both effective and safe. Many cleaners are biodegradable. Try to avoid products that contain phosphates, solvents, silicates, phenols, and substances of very high concern.
International Products Corporation’s (IPC) cleaners are safe for personnel, materials, equipment and the environment. Yet, they are powerful enough to remove the most difficult soils. This makes them excellent alternatives to hazardous solvents and chemicals frequently used for precision cleaning applications.
The Manufacturer Matters
When you select a product for your critical cleaning application you should be equally as concerned with the support provided by the manufacturer as you are with the product performance.The benefits of working with an experienced specialty cleaner manufacturer are that they can offer technical guidance and provide a variety of products to best meet your needs. Cleaner manufacturers should be able to assist their customers by providing validation methods, compatibility studies, toxicology reports, regulatory compliance, free product samples, and technical support.
There are so many variables that exist in choosing the right cleaning product. Remember to consider the soils, the surfaces, the cleaning method, the safety and the manufacturer. With careful thought and planning you can find a cleaner that meets all of your specifications. Choosing wisely makes a difference!
Download IPC’s ePaper for more information about choosing a cleaner and establishing the right cleaning parameters.
Comments Off on Get The Most Out Of Your Cleaner…Know When To Add More
5 Ways To Know When To Change Your Cleaning Solution
Choosing the best cleaner for your critical cleaning application takes time and careful consideration. With so many choices out there it can be difficult to figure out which cleaner is the best choice for your specific needs. Factors to consider:
• What is the surface being cleaned?
• What are the soils?
• What’s your cleaning method? Manual? CIP? Machine? Ultrasonic?
• What is the cleaning temperature?
• Do you need a validation method?
You’ve done your homework, run trials and have chosen the right cleaner for your cleaning application. Now it’s time to start to clean!
How much cleaner should I use?
Determining how much cleaner to use will vary based on the parameters of your unique cleaning application. International Products Corporation (IPC) recommends using a 1% – 2% concentration of their specialty cleaners for most applications. Pouring the water into the tank first, and then adding the detergent, helps to avoid excess foaming when preparing your cleaning solution. The chart below is helpful:
How do I know when it’s time to change the solution?
For many industrial and critical cleaning applications, it is extremely important to use a consistent cleaning process and keep the cleaning solution at a desired strength. Concentration control methods are procedures used to determine the concentration of a cleaning solution to ensure process consistency. When the concentration of the detergent drops, you know it’s time to change it.
IPC recommends five methods for testing the cleaning solution to determine the cleaner concentration:
1. Refractive index
3. Total alkalinity
4. Total acidity
5. Foam height
Refractive index is the “measure of the bending of a ray of light when passing from one medium into another.”¹ A refractometer is used to measure refraction. The refractive index is one way of measuring the amount of a substance in an aqueous solution. A higher refractive index indicates a higher amount of cleaner present in the solution. Conversely, a lower refractive index indicates a lower concentration of cleaner in the solution. If changes to the refractive index are found, it’s time to change your cleaning solution.
Conductivity “measures the ability of a given substance to conduct an electric current.”² Conductivity, measured in micro-siemens, can be used to determine the concentration of a cleaning solution. Cleaning solutions have a higher conductivity than water. So, a drop in the level of micro-siemens in your solution is an indication that it’s time to replace it.
This method is used for cleaners that are alkaline based (a pH above 7). Total alkalinity measures the ability of a cleaner to neutralize acid. It assesses the cleaning solution’s buffering capacity – its resistance to changes in pH caused by acid. Total alkalinity is tested by performing a titration, a technique where a solution of known concentration is used to determine the unknown concentration of another solution.
Alkaline builders bind hard water ions, so the surfactants can do their job. Without sufficient alkaline builders, the surfactants would come out of solution and become ineffective.
If the results show that the pH of your solution has decreased by one full pH unit, it’s a good indication that it’s time to change your cleaning solution.
This method is used for cleaners that are acid based (a pH below 7). Total acidity measures the ability of a cleaner to neutralize alkalinity. Similar to total alkalinity, total acidity is also tested by performing a titration. Changes in the pH of your cleaning solution occur once the soil load capacity of the cleaner has been saturated, indicating it’s time to change the solution.
Surfactants in cleaning solutions reduce surface tension, and, as a result, air may become entrapped. This leads to the formation of small bubbles or foam. If the cleaning solution is agitated, either by shaking vigorously by hand or in a blender, a layer of foam will form. The total volume can be measured in a graduated cylinder, and a foam level curve can be created by plotting the known concentration of the detergent versus the measured total volume. If the foam heights of various known concentrations of detergent are calculated, an equation can be created to determine the concentration of future cleaning solutions whose concentration level is unknown.
All of these methods for calculating the concentration of detergent in a cleaning solution can be converted into simple equations. The data obtained can be plotted on a graph and the slope of the line can be used to calculate the concentration of detergent in your cleaning solution. If you see that the amount of detergent has dropped, you know it’s time to change your cleaning solution.