Home ┬╗ Understanding the Chemistry of Cleaning: How Solutions Interact with Surfaces

Understanding the Chemistry of Cleaning: How Solutions Interact with Surfaces

When most people clean their homes, they give little thought to how the cleaning chemicals they are using tackle the dirt and grime in their home. If they did understand which cleaning agents worked best for each soil and stain, they could clean their property far more effectively.

ICE Cleaning is a professional cleaning company that offers over 40 different cleaning services including mould removal, flood restoration, and crime scene cleaning. Its fully trained cleaning experts have the knowledge to identify the optimal method for your specific problem.  

Continue reading to learn how different cleaning agents clean surfaces.


Chemistry of Cleaning


Cleaning agents are substances that remove dirt from surfaces. One of the most important substances that can be found in them are surfactants.

Short for “surface active agent”, surfactants modify the boundary between the liquid cleaning product and the solid stain so the water can lift, capture, and remove the contaminant.


Corrosive cleaning agents

A corrosive is a chemical that can corrode living tissue, contaminants, surfaces, and other materials by chemical reaction. They are used to facilitate the cleaning process and can eat away at bacteria, viruses, stains, and mineral deposits.


Dry cleaning agents

Some cleaning products break down dirt and stains with friction, like baking soda or limestone. This can be too rough for certain surfaces and may damage them.

They are usually mixed with water to create a scrub that is applied to the stain. It is a common cleaning agent used in laundry and for other jobs that require a tough cleaning method.


Essential oils

These are oils that have been extracted from citrus fruits, herbs, and spices. According to research, they can help surfactant-based agents tackle contaminants, odours, and microbial growth. They can also be corrosive and should not be mixed with corrosive cleaning agents.



These cleaning agents kill bacteria and viruses on surfaces. They are usually used after cleaning a surface to ensure it is free of pathogens. They must be left on a surface for a period of time and then rinsed off.

Disinfectants contain harsh chemicals which can cause irritation to the skin and respiratory system if the cleaner is not wearing personal protective equipment or is exposed to them for too long.


Acids and alkalis

The pH level of a cleaning agent greatly determines what it can be used for. Acidic agents, for example, are great for attacking rust, limescale, and other deposits, whereas alkaline products are often used for fatty build ups.


Solvent cleaning products

These are substances that dissolve a solute, like glue or nail polish. They are highly specialised cleaning chemicals and can cause harm to people’s health or damage the surface they are being used on if not used properly.

ICE Cleaning’s professional cleaners have access to industry-leading cleaning chemicals and equipment, and can carry out a safe and thorough clean. They have been accredited by several organisations including BICSc, Dewpoint Professional, and IPAF.

Visit ICE Cleaning’s website to learn more about the company’s expert cleaning services.

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