Water-Based Cleaners or Solvent Cleaners: Which is Best for Industries

All around the world, people are using cleaners on an everyday basis. But not all of them are aware of the different properties and uses of these cleaners. Both solvent and water-based cleaners are gaining popularity, but the debate regarding their effectiveness continues.

What Are Solvent Cleaners?

A solvent is nothing but a chemical compound used to suspend, dissolve, or extract other materials without chemically changing solvents or other materials.

Solvents are used to get rid of dust, dirt, stains, and so on. It exists in several different forms around the world. Chemical solvents are of two types – organic and inorganic. The former contains carbon which is used to dissolve paints and remove the glue. Inorganic solvents are used in professional research facilities.

Here are some industries that rely on solvent cleaners:

  • Construction
  • Engineering
  • Textiles
  • Rubber
  • Plastics
  • Pharmaceutical manufacture
  • Paint manufacture

Here are a few clean up solvents used in industries:

  • Acetone
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE)
  • Hexane
  • Methanol
  • Xylene
  • White Spirit
  • Petroleum Spirit
  • Toluene

Clean up solvents are versatile for they meet specific needs to make the product reach optimal performance. For example, they are useful in spray paints that dry easily, paints that give an outstanding look and last longer, strong cleaners that are good enough to carry out greasy, tough, and complex cleaning.

What Are Water-Based Cleaners?

A water-based cleaner utilizes water as the main ingredient and removes dirt, oil, and grease by dissolving contaminants. Water-based cleaners have alkaline or acidic elements. The former includes ammonia and bleach, and the latter include acetic acid and citric acid, containing lemon juice and vinegar, respectively.

Several water-based cleaners contain a wide variety of components to amplify the cleaning experience. The other materials include:

  • Surfactants
  • Detergents
  • Builders
  • Sequestering agents
  • Chelating agents
  • Emulsifiers

Water-Based Cleaners vs Solvent Cleaners: Which Is Best For You?

Without further ado, let’s find out the difference between water-based cleaners and solvent cleaners:

1. Evaporation

The evaporation rates in aqueous-based cleaners operate in a narrow range as compared to solvent cleaners. The evaporation time of solvent-based cleaners can vary from immediately to months.

2. Surface Tension

Water-based cleaners have higher surface tensions in comparison to solvent cleaners. For complex and small clearance areas, solvent cleaners are more useful as they have lower surface tension. However, aqueous cleaners can also show great cleaning results by raising the temperature or using different emulsifiers. Overall, clean up solvents can achieve desired cleaning results and are much more effective than water-based cleaners.

3. Temperature

For water-based cleaners, cleaning temperatures can range from room temperature to about 80 degrees celsius. The cleaning temperature of solvent cleaners ranges from below 0 degrees Celsius to above 200 degrees Celsius. Under normal conditions, a low boiling point means that the potential toxins can release quickly and easily.

4. Flammability

 Aqueous cleaners are non-flammable, whereas solvent cleaners are formulated to eliminate or minimize flammability.

.To sum up, both industrial cleaners can be effective, depending on your unique requirements and the application that is being cleaned. However, aqueous cleaning can be:

  • Expensive due to the large equipment for rinsing, washing, and drying
  • Unreliable because of water bath preparation errors
  • Time-consuming as the cycling times are 30 minutes or longer
  • Ineffective due to the dirt and other deposits left on the part

Whereas solvent cleaners are growing with popularity because:

  • It’s an effective process – The solvent cleaners have the efficiency to clearing contaminants which the water-based cleaners fail to perform.
  • Rinsing and drying – Various steps need to be performed with water-based cleaners, but solvent-based cleaners condense quickly in the cooling zone. The condensing coil in the vapor degreasing machine dries the element while the dirt drips go back into the tank for distillation and reuse, thus reducing the cycle time.
  • Fast cleaning – With solvent cleaners, cleaning can complete within a few minutes or seconds with the parts ready for the next step.

Clean-up solvents require minimal maintenance and are fast and environmentally smart.

What Are The Types Of Solvents?

Numerous industrial solvent-based cleaners are made from three types of solvents, including:

  • Oxygenated Solvents – These clean-up solvents contain oxygen in their structure. Oxygenated solvents are derived from petroleum-based products. They are used in manufacturing products, right from paint and cleaning to cosmetics. These generally have excellent solvent power and low toxicity. Some examples could be alcohols, glycol ether esters, ketones, etc.
  • Hydrocarbon Solvents – These have a complex chemical structure. They are of two types – Aliphatic solvents and Aromatic solvents. The former is used as a metal clean up solvent like gasoline and kerosene, while the latter is used in degreasing agents and manufacturing inks, agricultural chemicals, and paints. Examples of aromatic solvents are xylene, benzene, and toluene.
  • Halogenated Solvents – Clean up solvents that contain chlorine, iodine, bromine, or fluorine in their structure are termed halogenated solvents. Several people recognize it as a solvent highly used in dry cleaning.

Read also: How to clean blinds at home?

To make an informed decision while choosing between water-based cleaners and solvent-based cleaners it is crucial to understand your requirements and goals. Other than that you must also consider the application, performance, safety, and affordability.