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Glossary of Cleaning Chemicals

A guide to the properties and applications of common cleaning agents

Introduction

Cleaning chemicals are substances that are used to remove dirt, stains, odors, and germs from various surfaces and materials. They can be classified into different categories based on their chemical composition, pH level, function, and toxicity.

Some cleaning chemicals are general-purpose, while others are designed for specific tasks or surfaces. Cleaning chemicals can also have different effects on human health and the environment, depending on their ingredients and concentration. Therefore, it is important to know the basic properties and uses of common cleaning chemicals, as well as the hazards and precautions associated with them.

 

Glossary

  • Acetic acid: A weak acid that is found in vinegar and some other cleaning products. It is used as a natural disinfectant, deodorizer, and stain remover. It can also dissolve mineral deposits and rust. Acetic acid is generally safe to use, but it can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract if inhaled or contacted. It can also damage some metals and natural stone surfaces.
  • Alcohol: A group of organic compounds that are commonly used as solvents, disinfectants, and antiseptics. Some examples of alcohols are ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, and methanol. Alcohols can dissolve grease, oil, wax, and ink, and kill bacteria, fungi, and viruses. They can also evaporate quickly and leave no residue. However, alcohols are flammable and can cause skin dryness, irritation, and allergic reactions. They can also damage some plastics, rubber, and varnishes.
  • Ammonia: A compound of nitrogen and hydrogen that is found in some household and industrial cleaners. It is used as a degreaser, deodorizer, and bleach. It can also remove stains, soap scum, and hard water deposits. Ammonia is a strong base that can neutralize acids and alkalize water. However, ammonia is corrosive and can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract. It can also react with chlorine and other chemicals to form toxic gases.
  • Baking soda: A common name for sodium bicarbonate, a mild alkali that is used as a leavening agent, deodorizer, and abrasive. It can also neutralize acids and remove stains, odors, and grease. Baking soda is generally safe to use, but it can cause skin irritation if used in large amounts or for a long time. It can also lose its effectiveness if exposed to moisture or heat.
  • Bleach: A common name for sodium hypochlorite, a strong oxidizing agent that is used as a disinfectant, whitener, and stain remover. It can also kill mold, mildew, and algae. Bleach is effective against most bacteria, viruses, and fungi, but it can also damage fabrics, colors, and surfaces. Bleach is corrosive and can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract. It can also react with ammonia and other chemicals to form toxic gases.
  • Borax: A common name for sodium borate, a natural mineral that is used as a detergent, disinfectant, and insecticide. It can also soften water, remove stains, and deodorize. Borax is generally safe to use, but it can cause skin irritation and eye damage if contacted. It can also be harmful if swallowed or inhaled in large amounts.
  • Castile soap: A type of soap that is made from vegetable oils, such as olive, coconut, or hemp. It is used as a mild and biodegradable cleaner that can be diluted with water for various purposes. It can also moisturize and condition the skin and hair. Castile soap is generally safe to use, but it can cause eye irritation if contacted. It can also leave a residue if not rinsed well.
  • Citric acid: A weak acid that is found in citrus fruits and some other cleaning products. It is used as a natural disinfectant, deodorizer, and stain remover. It can also dissolve mineral deposits and rust. Citric acid is generally safe to use, but it can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract if inhaled or contacted. It can also damage some metals and natural stone surfaces.
  • Detergent: A general term for any substance that can reduce the surface tension of water and increase its cleaning ability. Detergents can be classified into anionic, cationic, nonionic, and amphoteric, based on their electrical charge and behavior in water. Detergents can remove dirt, grease, and stains from various fabrics and surfaces. However, detergents can also cause skin irritation, allergic reactions, and environmental pollution. They can also leave residues if not rinsed well.
  • Hydrogen peroxide: A compound of hydrogen and oxygen that is used as a disinfectant, antiseptic, and bleaching agent. It can also kill mold, mildew, and algae. Hydrogen peroxide is effective against most bacteria, viruses, and fungi, but it can also damage fabrics, colors, and surfaces. Hydrogen peroxide is corrosive and can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract. It can also decompose into water and oxygen if exposed to light or heat.
  • Lemon juice: A natural juice that is extracted from lemons and used as a cleaner, deodorizer, and stain remover. It can also dissolve mineral deposits and rust. Lemon juice is acidic and can neutralize bases and alkalize water. However, lemon juice can also irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract if inhaled or contacted. It can also damage some metals and natural stone surfaces.
  • Salt: A common name for sodium chloride, a mineral that is used as a preservative, flavoring, and abrasive. It can also soften water, remove stains, and deodorize. Salt is generally safe to use, but it can cause skin dryness, irritation, and eye damage if contacted. It can also corrode some metals and damage some plants.
  • Soda ash: A common name for sodium carbonate, a mild alkali that is used as a water softener, detergent, and stain remover. It can also neutralize acids and remove grease, oil, and wax. Soda ash is generally safe to use, but it can cause skin irritation and eye damage if contacted. It can also be harmful if swallowed or inhaled in large amounts.
  • Vinegar: A common name for acetic acid, a weak acid that is found in vinegar and some other cleaning products. It is used as a natural disinfectant, deodorizer, and stain remover. It can also dissolve mineral deposits and rust. Vinegar is generally safe to use, but it can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract if inhaled or contacted. It can also damage some metals and natural stone surfaces.
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