Cleaning Agents Commonly Used in Housekeeping: How to Clean Safely and Effectively. Cleaning products are essential in our lives at home and in the workplace and to personal and public health. By safely and effectively removing soils, germs, and other contaminants, they contribute to good personal hygiene, reduce the presence of germs that cause infectious diseases, extend the life of clothes, linens, tableware, surfaces, and furnishings, and make our homes and workplaces more pleasant. 

Although there are many cleaning products on the market, they all fall into one of four categories: detergents, degreasers, abrasives, and acids. Each of these cleaning agents has a specific job depending on the item or surface to be cleaned, the cleaning method, and the type of soiling found on the item or surface. You always want to ensure you are using the right cleaning agent for the task. 

Between chemical reactiveness and reduced effectiveness, there are several good reasons never to mix or use certain cleaning ingredients simultaneously. Bleach, for example, contains 5.25% sodium hypochlorite. If mistakenly mixed with something like vinegar, it can release enough chlorine gas to be fatal. This article aims to illuminate the best practices for cleaning agents to clean smarter (not harder), safely, and more efficiently.   


Detergents contain soaps and/or surfactants (organic substances/mixture). They are the most common type of cleaning agent used in the home and in commercial facilities. Detergents can emulsify oils, hold dirt in suspension, and act as wetting agents. Almost every detergent on the market requires water to work. They are extremely versatile cleaners and come in different forms, including powders, tablets, concentrated liquids, liquid capsules, gels, pastes, and cakes.

Detergents are not recommended for hardwood floors, leather, silk, cast iron frying pans, or mirrored surfaces. Use them for washing or cleaning jobs for household, institutional, or industrial purposes, including dishwashing, washing laundry, fabric softeners, all-purpose cleaners, and bleaching.


Degreasers, also known as solvent cleaners, remove grease from surfaces such as oven tops, counters, and grill backsplashes. Degreasers remove organic soils, like fats, oils, and proteins – used primarily in the kitchen. Organic soils are best removed with higher pH (or alkaline) solutions. The more caked on the kitchen mess is, the more alkaline cleaner you need. Oven cleaners, for example, are highly alkaline since they need to clear baked-on carbonized substances that build up over time.

Mild degreasers, most commonly used in the kitchen, can also be found in the cleansers you turn to in your laundry room. They are lower alkaline and designed to maintain the integrity of the surface they are being used on. You should avoid mixing degreasers with chemical cleaning agents such as bleach, acids, caustics, and ammonia.


Abrasives are substances or chemicals that depend on a bit of elbow grease (rubbing or scrubbing action) to clean dirt from hard surfaces. The abrasive action is provided by a physical, mineral, or chemical force. Minerals (like calcite, feldspar, calcite, silica, and others), substances (like salt, baking soda, and powdered borax), or materials (like steel wool, copper, nylon, and metal) can all qualify as abrasives.

Abrasive cleaners are designed to remove relatively heavy amounts of soil. They wear off dirt, stains, tarnish, and hard water deposits by scraping them away, facilitating the A for “agitation” in the C-H-A-T cleaning formula: chemical – heat – agitation – time. The degree of abrasiveness of products varies: fine particles are less abrasive, and coarse particles are more abrasive.

Available in both powdered and liquid form, abrasives contain a kind of built-in elbow grease that helps to cut down on the hard scrubbing required to remove soil.  Powdered cleansers also contain small amounts of surfactants for removing oily soils, such as the greasy film found in sinks after dishwashing. When removal of food, beverage, or mold stains is needed, a bleaching agent is usually present.

If removing rust stains is a product feature, oxalic acid or sodium hydrosulfite is usually present. Abrasives should be used with care, as over time, the overuse of some abrasive cleaners can remove the glaze or coating from surfaces. They can also scratch certain materials, such as plastic or stainless steel. 

Acid cleaners

Acid cleaners are the most powerful cleaning agents and should be used carefully. If not diluted correctly, acid cleaners can be corrosive and poisonous. An acid is a cleaning solution with a pH of six or lower, ranging from very mild to very strong. Cola, vinegar, coffee, and lemon are acidic due to their pH. When used in cleaning products, acids help break down difficult stains such as rust, soap scum, or mineral deposits.

Mild acids like vinegar and lemon juice can be used around your home to help with smaller messes or on various surfaces. Harsher acids can be used with greater caution in special situations. Examples of acidic cleansers include hard water or mineral deposit removers, toilet bowl cleaners, rust stain removers, tub and tile cleaners, and mold removers.

You should never use acid cleaners on surfaces longer than the directions advise, as they can cause damage if used incorrectly. Always wear protective eyewear and gloves regardless of the acid cleaner you use.  

Cleaning products and safety

Cleaning products, while safe and effective, must be handled appropriately and used according to the instructions on the product label. Any chemical, even water or oxygen, can be toxic if too much is ingested or absorbed into the body. The toxicity of a specific substance depends on various factors, including how much of the substance a person is exposed to, how they are exposed, and for how long. 

Since the onset of COVID-19, accidental poisonings in the U.S. have risen dramatically – up 20% in the first three months of 2020 compared with the year before, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Researchers found that 45,550 calls related to disinfectants and cleaners were recorded by poison control centers during the first three months of this year- 28,158 for cleaners and 17,392 for disinfectants.

Problems often arise when people unwittingly or inadvertently mix different kinds of cleaning agents. Almost two-thirds of the incidents involved bleach, and most of the others involved non-alcohol disinfectants and hand sanitizers. Inhalation-related poisonings made up the biggest segment of the increase in calls. The report’s findings were based on National Poison Data System data.

The CDC cited several reasons why people become poisoned by cleaning agents and disinfectants: They use products improperly (in amounts above what is recommended on the label, for example); They mix two or more products (such as ammonia and bleach), which can cause a potentially dangerous chemical reaction; And they use the products in poorly ventilated spaces.


An effective, efficient, and safe cleaning process depends on what surface needs to be treated and using the appropriate cleaner to complete the job effectively. Keeping surfaces clean and free of soil helps extend the life of our belongs and reduces the chance of spreading illness-causing germs.

Use cleaners only as directed. Read and follow the label directions for safe and effective use. Only use cleaners on objects or surfaces they are intended for. Never mix cleaning products together and only use one cleaner at a time. Bleach, ammonia, and other hard-surface cleaners can irritate your skin, eyes, and throat. Wear gloves when cleaning, and make sure the area you are cleaning in has adequate ventilation.  


Are you in need of professional house cleaning services? Whether you seek help regularly or just need a good once-over, a house cleaning service is practical and can be a real game-changer, especially for those with hectic schedules. Our cleaning pros at Cleanstart are standing by and ready to make your home sparkle and shine. 

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Call Cleanstart today for more information! 253-921-2593

Worry-free services

We understand how important it is to protect your home. You can be assured that each cleaning team member undergoes extensive vetting and receives a background check before they are hired. Our staff is thoroughly trained in all aspects of professional cleaning, including the latest technologies, tools, products, equipment, and safety. We are licensed and fully insured for your protection. 

Due to the pandemic, we are taking extra measures to ensure we provide the best cleaning services possible while maintaining high safety standards per CDC guidelines. Our cleaning professionals will sanitize their hands, wear masks, gloves, and booties, and wear additional protective equipment before entering your home. We also ensure that all our cleaning supplies, tools, and equipment are cleaned and disinfected before each cleaning visit. And while cleaning your home, our cleaning team will maintain a 6-foot distance from others.

Our customer satisfaction guarantee

At Cleanstart, we strive to provide the highest-quality cleaning services possible, and your satisfaction is extremely important to us. We provide a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee. If you are dissatisfied with any aspect of our service, please give us a call within 24 hours, and we will make it right at no additional cost to you. We want you to feel completely confident in the quality of our services and in our ability to accommodate all of your house cleaning needs.

Cleanstart proudly offers:

✓ Over 25 years of experience in the cleaning and janitorial industry
✓ Thoroughly trained and vetted cleaning professionals
✓ Commitment to the highest quality clean
✓ Local, licensed, insured, & bonded service
✓ 24/7 cleaning options & support
✓ Customized cleaning solutions
✓ One-time deep cleaning and viral cleanings
✓ recurring professional cleaning visits
✓ 100% satisfaction guarantee
✓ OSHA, HIPAA, EPA, CDC, AORN compliant
✓  A+ BBB-rating

For more information about our high-quality, professional house cleaning services or to schedule a cleaning visit, please call Cleanstart today at (253) 921-2593 or request a free online cleaning estimate!

We service the following locations in the Greater Puget Sound region:

Auburn, Bellevue, Bellingham, Bonney Lake, Bremerton, Factoria, Fife, Olympia, Kent, Lakewood, Olympia, Puyallup, Renton, Seattle, Tacoma, Tukwila, University Place, King County, Kitsap County, Pierce County, and Thurston County.

5013 Pacific Hwy E unit 16 Fife, WA 98424 • Phone: 253.921.2593 • Email: Caleb @

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