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Complicated Chemical Affair

[box type=”shadow” ]An all-purpose cleaner or multi-purpose cleaner may sound safe and suitable for all kinds of cleaning. However, the complexity of the surface being cleaned could lead to a chemical reaction, damaging it permanently. Hence, all-purpose cleaners, may be simple to use, but could get complicated when used without understanding the chemical composition of the surface being cleaned. Vijayalakshmi Sridhar speaks to experts and end users to evaluate all-purpose cleaners (APCs) and its applications[/box]

During an interaction with a facility service company, a hassled supervisor confided his frustration and outcome of trusting his boys with cleaning chemicals. In a five-star property, an area of wooden flooring was cleaned using a wrong chemical. The flooring was damaged completely and the supervisor was facing a furious executive housekeeper.

At times in an attempt to simplify processes and identify the right chemicals by numbering them according to applications could also backfire. Many properties have the auto-dispensing system installed besides the daily and periodic training offered to workers engaged in cleaning. In spite of all these education and systems, there is a clear indication that the user has to understand what exactly is the chemical being used, its composition and above all the character of the surface on which it is to be applied and the reaction thereof. This reiterates the fact that cleaning is a science and has to be learned and understood for proper implementation.

All-purpose Cleaners

The APCs are generally made of anionic surfactants without any special additives. They are used for general cleaning of most surfaces, including floors, furniture or glass.

[box type=”shadow” ]“The market is divided when it comes to using APCs. One segment is cost-driven, another is quality-driven and yet another one is brand-driven”.

– Jigar Shah


“This is one chemical that can be used for different modes/methods of cleaning for different surfaces,” says Jigar Shah, MD, Reva Chemicals Pvt Ltd.

Even though, it is all-purpose, APCs have their limitations when it comes to industries like food, pharma, healthcare and so on. In a food industry, the use of chemicals itself is restricted and APCs hardly finds its place. In addition to stabilized chlorine solution for sanitization, solutions that are bio degradable, high detergency aqueous that are safe on hands or is alcohol based, having neutral pH and a good bactericidal property, form the popular industry choice. For hand wash, a gentle soap with balanced pH and emollients for moisturizing action is preferred.

“The APCs though are cost effective, have inherent limitations as they could be a hazard in the food industry,” says Prakash N, Manager Operations, Annamrita – ISKCON Food Relief Foundation that serves 1.2 million meals every single day through its 20 kitchens across India. However, he adds, “The efficacy, stability and safety data of various chemicals in combination need to be studied over prolonged usage. The chemicals if not biodegradable, could become a sewage pollutant and cause ecological damage.”

“The market is divided when it comes to using APCs. One segment is cost-driven, another is quality-driven and yet another one is brand-driven,” says Jigar Shah.

Adding a new perspective to this discussion, Rachna Dave, MicroGo LLP, feels that it is “more to do with the strict enforcement of standards and practices of hand hygiene, regular washing of uniforms and the need for staff that has enough awareness of dos and don`ts.”

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