Alkali Cleaners Alkali Cleaners

The Basic Cleaning Families

Alkali cleaners remove and suspend heavy soil and grease so it can be rinsed away.

  • Caution: Alkalis can damage skin and fabrics, corrode and darken aluminum. Most (except baking soda) are toxic if swallowed.

Mild Alkali Cleaners Baking Soda (Sodium bicarbonate)

Soak burnt food from pans in solution of 2 tablespoons per quart of warm water. (For heavier or sticky soil spots, sprinkle on damp sponge, rub and rinse; or make paste of soda.) Clean glass, tile, porcelain enamel, stainless steel sinks, chrome, fixtures, fiberglass tubs and showers. Remove coffee and tea stains from dishes. Clean and deodorize refrigerator.

Moderately Strong Alkali Cleaners Ammonia

Use solution of 2 tablespoons per quart of warm water to clean windows, glass, ovens, range burners, greasy surfaces. Use 1 tablespoon per quart warm water to wash painted walls and rinse well. Will remove some water based floor waxes.

  • Caution: Irritating fumes. Can soften paint, especially latex, if too strong. Has a slight bleaching effect. Always use alone because combining ammonia with other cleaners may produce lethal gases.

Moderately Strong Alkali Cleaners Borax

In mild solution, 1 to 2 tablespoons per gallon of warm water to wash sinks, painted walls, etc. Laundering (as diapers) to remove odors and retard bacterial growth.

  • Caution: Rinse thoroughly

Moderately Strong Alkali Cleaners TSP (Tri-Sodium Phosphate)

Buy at paint stores, especially ones painter use. Is part of some commercial cleaners. Use a solution of 1 tablespoon per gallon warm water to clean painted surfaces, porcelain fixtures, tile- glazed and unglazed. Removes soot and smoke (greasy dirt).

  • Caution: Always wear rubber gloves to protect skin; strong solutions remove paint. ALWAYS rinse thoroughly.

Strong Alkali Cleaners Washing Soda (Sodium carbonate)

Uses In hot solution, soak greasy burners, pans; dissolves grease from drains. Is builder for many powdered detergents.

  • Caution: Highly toxic; do not get on skin. Will darken and corrode aluminum.

Very Strong Alkali Cleaners Lye (Sodium hydroxide)

Uses are to clean grease from drains and open drains. Found in many drain and oven cleaners.

  • Caution: Very caustic and toxic; can cause serious burns to eyes or skin. Follow label instructions exactly.

The Basic Cleaning Families

This article has been contributed in part by Michigan State University Extension

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