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Understanding This Will Make Your Cleaning Business More MONEY...

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

What Types of Cleaners Are There?

Generally speaking, industrial cleaning products can be divided into three major types. Each category also covers multiple sub-categories but these overarching divisions serve as neat and tidy ways to group different products together for clarification.


Water-based cleaners are those that come in liquid form, with water as their main ingredient. They typically come in a large container or jug, and you dip a rag, mop or brush into the cleaner. Water-based cleaners are usually measured, described and differentiated from one another in terms of their pH levels. Different pH levels make a cleaning product more or less suited to deal with certain types of cleaning.

Cleaners on the acidic side of the pH scale, from zero to seven, are very well-suited to remove mineral stains. This includes things like buildup from hard water, rust or soap scum. Acids have an excellent way of cutting through these buildups, breaking them down and detaching them from the surface they’re clinging to. Toilet-bowl cleaner, for example, is often acid-based.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, cleaners on the alkaline side of the pH scale, from seven to 14, are better at removing fats. Think of greases, waxes, oils and even general grime and dirt. Alkaline is better suited to interact with these chemical compounds and remove them.

When stocking your supplies with water-based cleaners, it’s important to have ample amounts of both acidic and alkaline cleaners. If you only have one or the other, you will be well-stocked to fight certain types of stains but will be utterly unprepared for others. By having both, you’ll be ready for almost anything.


Unlike water-based cleaners, which feature water as their main ingredient, solvent-based cleaners use one or more chemicals as their main ingredient. However, solvent-based cleaners are still acidic or alkaline depending on what chemicals they’re made from.

Solvent-based cleaners can be further divided down into two principal categories. There are products designed to clean a particular surface, such as chrome, steel or wood. Then there are products intended as generic, all-purpose cleaners that can be used on a variety of surfaces and materials.

From a purely economic standpoint, one might immediately assume that it’s best to supply yourself with plenty of general cleaners and ignore the rest. This isn’t always the case, however. While all-purpose cleaning chemicals are good in many cases, they often can’t get to the tougher stains and marks as well as a specific cleaner can. Cleaning a tough stain with a generic cleaner often takes multiple tries before they work, resulting in lost time, money and productivity.

We recommend not only stocking up on several of your favorite all-purpose cleaners but also thinking about the types of surfaces you find yourself cleaning frequently and investing in some products specifically designed for these situations. For example, maybe you have several stainless steel surfaces. It would absolutely be worth it to invest in steel-cleaners instead of wasting your time layering on an ineffectual all-purpose cleaner.


Finally, the third category is something of a hybrid, combining elements of both the previous categories we’ve mentioned. These cleaners have a chemical as their main ingredient but they will dissolve in water, making these cleaners excellent choices as cleaning solutions.

These cleaners are a valuable part of any commercial cleaning arsenal and should be stocked along with the rest of your supplies. As with the other cleaners we’ve mentioned, these cleaners can be acidic or basic and are best suited for cleaning mineral stains or fats, respectively.

Additionally, these cleaners can be designed to target specific types of stains and dirt, as well as certain materials and surfaces. There are also more all-purpose cleaners.

While water-soluble cleaners are not substitutes for either of the previous two cleaners, they do combine these characteristics in an efficient and effective way. Consider adding these to your list of supplies to stock. Vary your supplies further by purchasing a wide range of these products that seem appropriate for the types of materials you frequently find yourself cleaning.

The Key Factors of a Cleaning Product

Cleaning agents often feature labels full of complex language that can be very difficult to understand if you’re unfamiliar with the terms. Because of this, it can be hard to know what distinguishes one cleaning agent from another and what makes one better than another.

Thankfully, there’s a handy acronym that will help you remember the four main factors of any cleaning agent. The acronym is TACT, and it breaks down the four key elements of many cleaners:

  • Time: Always check how long a cleaner will take to work. Does it need to sit for an hour or can it be scrubbed immediately?

  • Action: Learn how a cleaner is meant to work. Does it loosen dirt and grime by sitting on it? Does it need to flow over a surface?

  • Chemical concentration: How strong is the cleaning agent? You want something strong enough to get the job done but not so strong that it eats away the material as well as the dirt.

  • Temperature: Make sure the chemical doesn’t require extremely hot water or any other odd temperature variations.

Search a cleaning agent for these four critical elements. If you have a firm grasp of these, you will know the most important pieces of information.

How Do You Know Which Products to Purchase?

If you’re just starting out in the industrial cleaning business, it can be hard to know how to choose cleaning supplies. There are so many products out there, and it can be overwhelming as you try to decide which products are the most important, and which can wait for another day.

Here are a few tips to help you navigate this process:


Buying commercial grade products isn’t always cheap. It can be tempting to go the slightly cheaper route and buy household grade instead. We advise against this, however. As we mentioned, household grade items are packaged in smaller quantities, meaning that you’ll end up buying far more of them in the long run. This doesn’t just apply to cleaners and is equally true for equipment. Even though commercial equipment and cleaners may have a higher price up front, think of the money you’ll be saving over time, and make the investment.


Maybe there’s one product on the market that you find to be really interesting, and you’ve been wanting to try out. The only problem is that it isn’t really practical for your work, and you’d probably only use it once a year for a job that another tool you already have could do perfectly well. In cases like these, the smart thing to do is to pass.

For the maximum efficiency and the greatest use of your budget, try to purchase products that you’ll use frequently. Additionally, think of products that can have multiple uses in many different scenarios.


With tools like rags, scrubbing brushes and mop heads, you’ll want to make sure to buy enough to go around. These items need to be cleaned frequently, and there’s nothing worse than needing to use one of these items only to find that they’re all dirty. Avoid this scenario by purchasing enough to rotate through them. This way, you should never have a day where you find yourself out of these products.


Pressure washers, floor machines and auto scrubs are all important tools that you’ll likely use occasionally. However, they’re also expensive. As you start out with your cleaning, consider waiting to buy these items. Instead, just rent them as you find yourself needing them. If you realize that you need them frequently, then perhaps the investment is worth it. If not, however, you can save yourself money and hassle by simply skipping them

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