How Cleaners Work
A lot of what we talk about with customers and clients is soft washing, or the method of using low pressure and a proprietary solution to "treat" or clean siding. Across the Midwest, this usually involves combating mildew, mold, and algae. But we still use cleaners - degreasers, in fact - to help remove dirt, mud, grease, and pollution from various surfaces. How do these work?
What is a cleaner?
First, let's look at the distinction between a cleaner and a degreaser. All degreasers are a type of cleaner, but not all cleaners are considered degreasers. Most of the degreasers used in the exterior cleaning industry are alkaline degreasers, which will be important to remember later.
All cleaners and degreasers work about the same way, on the molecular level. In layman's terms, a cleaner molecule has one side that is hydrophobic, and one that is hydrophilic. The hydrophobic end is drawn toward the contaminant, and the hydrophilic end is drawn toward the water. Basically, one end latches onto the dirt or grease, and the other pulls it to the water.
Household, basic cleaners tend to have a neutral pH, or are mildly acidic or mildly alkaline. Neutral pH is 7, with anything below 7 being acidic and anything above 7 being alkaline. The more extreme the soiling, the higher alkalinity helps break down the molecules so they can be removed from the surface. Drastic differences in pH causes more molecular turmoil, aiding in loosening contaminants from a surface.
Degreasers function like cleaners, but are formulated to tackle heavy soiling. Heavy duty degreasers tend to be highly alkaline, and fall somewhere between 10 and 13 on the pH scale. Since soils tend to be neutral or more acidic, the wide discrepancy between pH values helps breakdown and remove the grease and dirt.
Power Washing and Degreasers
How do we use degreasers? While high pressure is enough to blast a surface clean, degreasers help lift soiling out of porous surfaces like concrete, and allow for the surface cleaner to work faster. Degreasers can be used to help remove oil stains from driveways, foot traffic from entry ways, and dumpster grease around restaurants.
We also use a degreaser in our soft washing mixes for house siding cleaning. The little bit of degreaser helps remove atmospheric pollution, dirt, and cobwebs.
For restaurant cleaning such as dumpster pads and entry ways, a good caustic degreaser is useful for breaking up the animal fats found in food grease. We use a industrial caustic degreaser that reacts with the animal fats and draws the grease to the water, allow it to wash free.
It's best to find power washing services if you don't want to do the work yourself. Our Agent Clean technicians are trained, insured, and experts in their field. You can also find a location near you.