The True Cost of Cleaning: Why Concentrated Water-Based Cleaners Save You More

Have you ever analyzed your company’s cleaning chemical expenses and wondered if there’s a more cost-effective solution?

Are you questioning whether upfront savings from cheaper alternatives result in long-term financial benefits?

In the world of industrial cleaning solutions, the right choice isn’t just about immediate costs. In this article, we dive deep into water-based cleaners to show why higher initial container or per litre costs translate into significant savings and more efficient operation.

As inflation rises and cutting costs are top-of-mind for many businesses, it becomes even more important to understand the real cost benefits of more concentrated water-based cleaners and degreasers.

Ready? Let’s dive in!

The Costly Illusion of 'Cheap' Water-Based Cleaners and Degreasers

Many industrial cleaning myths silently undermine the effectiveness and safety of your operation. Today, we debunk the common misconception that a lower up-front price results in long-term savings.

The truth is the initial price of a cleaning agent rarely reflects its long-term value.

Consider this scenario: Company A, looking to optimize its budget, purchases a water-based cleaner priced at half the cost of another brand on the market. Seems like a savvy financial decision, right?

As they integrate this cleaner into their operation, they notice it isn’t as effective as other products they’ve used. Worse, they find themselves using more than double the volume to achieve the same result and find the drum empties at a much faster rate.

As weeks go by, the frequency of reordering drums escalates. With each order, additional shipping and handling fees are added to the cost. These hidden expenses and the increased number of drums required were overlooked in the initial purchase decision. All these costs add up and erode the initial savings of the ‘cheaper’ cleaner.

But wait, there’s more! Turns out, the cheaper cleaner is less effective, and employees spend more time cleaning. These additional labor hours result in higher payroll costs, longer downtime, reduce productivity and, ultimately, increase your overall costs.

So, what seemed like an upfront savings opportunity with the half-priced cleaner ends in reduced efficiency and increased total costs.

Maximize Efficiency with Concentrated Cleaners and Degreasers

When it comes to selecting the right chemical cleaners for your operation, you need to look beyond volume and up-front price. Highly concentrated cleaners deliver higher value through increased efficiency, better results, and lower total costs.

Cost per Use: A Clear Comparison

Diluted cleaners might seem like a budget-friendly choice, but they often require more product to do the same job. Even worse, some formulations are less effective and require more time. Concentrated water-based cleaners require less product for the same, if not better, results. This means your purchase lasts longer and results in a lower cost per use. So, more concentrated cleaning chemicals cost more up-front, but result in lower total cleaning costs over time.

Crazy results and huge savings can be unlocked with concentrated cleaners—see for yourself in these case studies:

Calculating End-Use Costs Based on Use-Dilution

When it comes to gauging the cost-effectiveness of water-based cleaners, focusing solely on the sticker price is a narrow view. Evaluating your cost based on results and effective use-dilution, tells the real story. Calculating your end-use and diluted costs helps you to make informed decisions.

Use-Dilution is the ratio at which a concentrated cleaner is diluted with water for use. Cleaners may be diluted manually or through automatic proportioning equipment. A cleaner with a high use-dilution is priced higher up-front but gives you more bang for your buck.

Instead of looking at how much a pail, drum, or even a liter or gallon of concentrate costs, shift your perspective to how much a liter or gallon of the diluted, ready-to-use solution costs.

To calculate the end-use cost based on use-dilution, follow this simple formula:

Cost per gallon of concentrated cleaner ÷ Use-Dilution Ratio = Cost per gallon of diluted, working solution

For instance, if a litre of concentrated industrial cleaner costs $5 and the use-dilution ratio is 1:100 (meaning one part cleaner to 100 parts water), the end-use cost for a litre of the working solution would be $5 ÷ 101 (accounting for the cleaner plus the water) = $0.05.

Comparing the end-use costs of various cleaners gives a clear picture of true value. A cleaner with a higher price tag might, when diluted, prove more cost-effective than a cheaper one.

Now that you know how to calculate end-use costs you can use our dilution-ratio to end-use chemical cost calculator.

Chemical Dilution Cost Calculator


Cost of the chemical per gallon in the working diluted solution: $0.00

Superior Cleaning: More than Just Shine

We’ve all heard the phrase “time is money.” In the world of industrial cleaning solutions, this couldn’t be more accurate. Every minute spent scrubbing, re-cleaning, or addressing equipment issues from cheap cleaners that leave a residue adds up.

Expanding the Cost Horizon

The savings from using more concentrated cleaners comes down to more than just chemical costs. Less concentrated products have more water in them. More costly water. Water you’re paying to ship to you.

Why not buy more concentrated water-based cleaners and degreasers and use the water you have on-site to dilute them instead?

The right concentrated cleaner means:

  • Less waste
  • Lower disposal costs
  • Reduced shipping costs
  • Reduced environmental impact

There is always more to the story than up-front chemical costs.

Reassessing Your Cleaning Budget

We get it, every dollar counts. It’s natural to focus on up-front costs, but it’s more critical to assess long-term costs and savings. If you evaluate the real cost-effectiveness of your water-based cleaners and degreasers, your company can make informed decisions that benefit finance, operations, staff, equipment, and the environment.

Whether you need cleaners for:

Or any other industrial application, always focus on long-term and total use costs for maximum savings.
And, for an in-depth look at dilution in the commercial car wash industry, read our article “Decoding Dilution“.

Kick-start Your Cost-effective Cleaning Journey

By focusing on value over upfront cost, you improve your operation and secure the most value for every dollar spent. Remember to consider end-use costs at dilution, product performance, health & safety, and overall use costs when choosing the best water-based cleaner or degreaser for you.

At Guardian Chemicals, we pride ourselves on providing top-tier solutions that do more than just clean. We focus on providing safe, sustainable and high-performing concentrated solutions to save time and reduce your overall costs.

So what’s next?

When you’re ready, contact us to learn how you Create a Better Future with our water-based cleaners and degreasers. We’ll evaluate your current operation and your needs—and recommend the right cleaning chemical for you.

FAQs: The Realities of Water-Based Cleaners and Degreasers

Why are concentrated cleaners more expensive up-front?

Concentrated cleaners contain a higher active ingredient percentage than their diluted counterparts. They contain less water and offer better cleaning efficiency, higher dilutions, and fewer applications. Your initial investment may be higher, but the long-term savings in terms of product usage and effectiveness provide higher value and an overall reduction in total use costs.

Are all eco-friendly cleaners also more concentrated?

Not necessarily. Many eco-friendly cleaners are more concentrated, but “eco-friendly” refers to a product’s environmental impact. Some environmentally friendly cleaners are fully diluted, meaning they’re ready-to-use. Always check third-party registrations such as Green-Seal and the product specifications to determine the validity of eco-friendly claims and concentration levels.

How do waste disposal costs relate to the choice of cleaning chemicals?

Cheaper, less effective chemicals require more frequent usage or larger quantities to achieve the same cleaning level. This leads to more waste, both in terms of used product and packaging. Disposing of this waste, especially if it’s classified as hazardous, can incur significant costs. Opting for effective, high-quality cleaning chemicals reduces the volume of waste and associated disposal costs.

Can the wrong cleaning chemical really damage my equipment?

Absolutely. Some chemicals, especially those of lower quality, can leave residues or may not be suited for certain materials. Over time, this can lead to corrosion, degradation, or other forms of damage, potentially resulting in costly repairs or replacements. That’s why you need to choose effective cleaners compatible with your equipment and effective in removing grime without leaving harmful residues.

How can I determine the true cost-effectiveness of a cleaning chemical?

To determine a cleaner’s true cost-effectiveness, consider not only its initial price but also its cost per use, reorder frequency and shipping, cleaning performance, and additional costs related to waste disposal or equipment maintenance. In many cases, a more expensive, high-quality cleaner will prove to be more cost-effective in the long run.

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