Wipe Away the Myths: Untold Truths About Industrial Cleaners and Industrial Cleaning

Are prevailing myths about industrial cleaning silently undermining the effectiveness and safety of your operations?

Or worse, are they leading to equipment damage, increased health risks, negative environmental impacts, and increased costs?

Much like the benign yet widely accepted myth that goldfish have a three-second memory, industrial cleaning is rife with seemingly innocuous misconceptions—except, in this case, the myths come with serious consequences.

Industrial cleaning is science, not magic. No one should try to pull the wool over your eyes. That’s why, in this article we dismantle common myths about industrial cleaning.

Prepare to have industrial cleaning truths revealed, so you can follow best practices to optimize your cleaning processes, ensure workplace safety, and mitigate environmental effects.

Table of Contents

Myth 1: Cheaper Industrial Cleaning Chemicals Are More Economical

While the upfront cost of a cheaper industrial cleaner is less, it may not be as concentrated or effective as a more expensive one. That means you’ll use more and go through pails, drums, and totes faster. And, if your cheap industrial cleaner is less effective, it’ll take more labour and more time to clean your equipment.

All these costs add up—and your total spend is higher with cheaper or lower-priced industrial cleaning chemicals.

To determine the true cost and compare industrial cleaners, you need to calculate use costs based on dilution. We have an article on this concept, relating to the commercial car wash industry. Learn more in Decoding Dilution.

Lower priced industrial cleaners may use more hazardous ingredients and be of lower quality than more expensive options. Make sure you read the SDS, analyze it critically, and assess all health and safety risks. and ultimately more costs in the long run. Consider the overall cost-effectiveness of a product, not just its price.

Myth 2: You Can Get Better Results by Using Industrial Cleaners at Higher Concentrations

Some industrial cleaning agents are ready-to-use, others are formulated to be diluted for use. When industrial cleaners are diluted, they should always be used within the dilution range provided by your supplier. At higher concentration, surface damage may occur, health and safety risks may increase, and your use costs go up.

Peak performance for most industrial cleaners and water-based degreasers occurs within the supplier’s recommended dilution range. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the proper concentration and use for your industrial cleaning chemicals.

Myth 3: Eco-Friendly Products Are Less Effective

Many believe eco-friendly products are less effective than traditional industrial cleaning chemicals. Advances in green chemistry have led to high-performance and eco-friendly industrial cleaners.  These products are formulated to be powerful cleaners while being safe for the environment and worker health and safety.

Don’t take our word for it, companies like Green Seal test and certify industrial cleaners to help you make healthier, greener choices for your workplace.

If you’re interested, E-5 (E5) and E-6 (E6) are Green Seal certified cleaners available from Guardian Chemicals.

Myth 4: Solvent Cleaners are Always More Powerful than Water-Based Cleaners

Yes, solvent cleaners can be strong and remove stubborn oil and grease deposits—but water-based cleaning technology has advanced. Depending on the deposit, water-based cleaners can clean just as well.

In most cases, water-based cleaners are safer, have higher flashpoints, and are less likely to irritate your skin. They are often better options for the environment. And where they can’t do the job, hybrid cleaners can.

Just like hybrid cars combine two technologies (gas and electric), hybrid cleaners do too! Hybrid cleaners combine the power of solvent and water.

So, when you select a cleaner, remember to choose the right one for the job.

Need help choosing between solvent, water, and hybrid cleaners? Read our guide here.

Myth 5: Degreasers and Industrial Cleaning Chemicals that Smell Nice Aren’t Hazardous

A pleasant smell doesn’t mean your industrial cleaner or degreaser is safe or non-hazardous. Many hazardous chemicals have pleasant or neutral odours—and some even smell like bubble gum.

Cleaning products often contain fragrances to mask the smell of other ingredients or to make the experience of using them more pleasant. Don’t be fooled, they’re still dangerous.

Always read the label and SDS and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe use and disposal.

Myth 6: All Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) for Industrial Cleaners and Degreasers Are Factual

Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) are supposed to provide accurate and reliable information about hazardous products and how to use them safely. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for some suppliers to provide SDSs that are incorrect and sometimes intentionally misleading.

Studies have shown a high percentage of Safety Data Sheets contain factual inaccuracies, misclassified hazards and missing hazardous ingredients.

Learn more about the critical questions you must ask before using or approving chemical products for use on-site in our Safety Data Sheet Reading Guide.

Myth 7: Industrial Cleaners with Colours and Scents Clean Better

Most often, colours and scents add additional and unnecessary cost to industrial cleaning chemicals and degreasers. Colours and scents are added for show, to enhance the experience of using them. Scents are only necessary where customers prefer them, or when used in chemicals as masking agents to prevent unpleasant odours.

Myth 8: It's Okay to Mix Industrial Cleaners and other Chemical Products

Mixing cleaning products can be extremely dangerous. If you combine the wrong chemicals harmful reactions and toxic gases could be produced. Never mix cleaning chemicals unless explicitly stated by the manufacturer.

Myth 9: All Corrosives Are the Same

Corrosive cleaning chemicals can damage or destroy materials, including living tissue (skin, eyes, etc.) on contact. However, not all corrosives are the same.

Some are acidic (low pH), others basic (high pH) and some are even neutral in pH. Corrosive chemicals vary in strength, concentration, and the type of materials they damage. As for living tissue, some chemicals are only considered corrosive to the eyes, but irritants to other tissues. Always read the label and SDS to understand the type and hazards of the corrosive cleaner you’re using.

Myth 10: Household Chemicals Are Safer Than Industrial Chemicals

Many people believe household chemicals and cleaners are safer than industrial cleaners and degreasers. However, this is not necessarily true. Many household chemicals are hazardous and some industrial chemicals are formulated to be non-toxic and safe for use. Safety regulations, GHS and Safety Data Sheets increase our awareness of the hazards in the workplace, but no one does the same at home.

Did you know that even Sunlight dish detergent has an SDS filled with hazards, safety precautions, and first aid measures?

As consumers, we rarely look at SDSs for the products in our own home. Consumer requirements and labeling differ from those required under WHMIS for the workplace. Always read the label and SDS and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe use and disposal.


Proper industrial cleaning helps you maintain your equipment, processes, and workplaces. Avoid these common industrial cleaning myths to improve performance, ensure health and safety, and reduce costs.

Remember, you can optimize your cleaning programs with concentrated industrial cleaners and degreasers designed with the lowest operating cost in mind. Start by reviewing SDSs. Make sure you understand all hazards. Review all SDSs in detail to avoid being misled and ensure the information supplied is accurate.

Focusing on the upfront pail, drum, or tote costs can be misleading. Always consider cleaning performance and dilution when evaluating industrial cleaning products—and calculate your use costs with dilution in mind. Choose higher performing and more concentrated cleaning products to reduce your overall industrial cleaning costs.

When you’re ready, contact Guardian Chemicals to learn how you Create a Better Future with concentrated industrial cleaners optimized for your systems.

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