Which cleaner is best for you? A breakdown of enzyme and chemical cleaning agents.
Cleaning products, whether enzymatic or chemical, play a vital role in our daily lives at home, work, and school. According to a 2019 commercial cleaning industry report, a clean workplace decreases the number of sick days employees take per year. Furthermore, a clean facility is a more profitable one. Researchers discovered a direct correlation between a clean workplace and employee productivity. By safely reducing and eliminating dirt, harmful bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants, cleaners prevent the spread of diseases and allergens.
Cleaning agents, both chemical and enzyme, are added to many household products from laundry detergents and odor removers to dishwashing products and cleaning wipes. Using these products regularly helps to improve cleaning efficiency and maintain and healthy and hygienic environment.
When it comes to choosing a product that will perform best for your work or living space, take the time to weigh the pros and cons of both types of cleaning agents.
Chemical cleaners - familiar and reliable
Chemical-based cleaners typically come in liquid form, but powder and gel cleaners are also widely available. These cleaners use chemical reactions to clear drain clogs, reduce bacteria growth, and kill viruses. Common chemicals used in cleaners are bleach, ammonia, peroxide, nitrates, and sulfuric acid.
Using chemical cleaners to disinfect surfaces or remove clogs from drains have significant advantages over simple soap and water. A corrosive cleaner that contains a chemical such as lye produces heat that breaks down grease and helps dissolve built-up substances quickly. Chlorinated cleaning products can help protect people against seasonal outbreaks of sicknesses such as the common cold and flu as well as foodborne illness.
Chemical-based cleaners are useful for clearing clogged drains, ensuring surfaces are virus-free and keeping mold and bacteria at bay. However, they come with strong warning labels due to their caustic nature. Chemical cleaners can cause skin, eye, and mucous membrane irritation if not used correctly or if precautions to reduce inhalation or skin contact are not taken. Generally, chemical cleaners rely on heat or a strong chemical reaction to produce results. Over time, chemicals can breakdown and damage plastic pipes, stone countertops, or metal faucets. Chemical cleaners also eliminate most bacteria they come in contact with. This elimination is perfect for commonly touched surfaces but can be harmful in areas such as septic tanks that rely on good bacteria to maintain a healthy system.
Enzyme cleaners - less common, but hardworking
Enzyme drain cleaners have recently become an alternative to many chemical cleaners and are considered a comparable product for many common cleaning problems. Enzyme-based cleaners use safe bacteria to feed on organic materials such as food waste, fungi, mold, and dangerous bacteria to breakdown clogs and reduce potentially harmful substances. The enzymes break down matter into minuscule pieces that can then be flushed through pipes with water or wiped away.
Since enzymes cleaners are chemical-free, they tend to be less harmful to pipes, septic systems, and surfaces. There is a possibility that enzyme cleaners can cause skin irritation, but the risks are far less in comparison to chemical cleaners. Enzyme cleaners are perfect for problems associated with public facilities and work well to target odors associated with restrooms or pets. Enzymes will also do less damage to plumbing infrastructure over the long term.
The drawbacks associated with enzyme cleaners are due to their organic nature. Using enzymes to break down a clog in a drain will typically take longer than using a chemical cleaner to remove the blockage. Depending on the severity of the clog, it could take quite a bit of time to fully clear the drain, which is why many people use enzymes as a preventative measure. Additionally, using enzyme cleaners on inorganic materials will not result in a cleaner pipe or surface due to the organic structure of the enzymes.
Proactive vs. reactive cleaning
Proactively keeping a home or pubic facility clean means taking control of a situation and instituting a regular cleaning protocol rather than waiting to respond. Routinely cleaning on a schedule is considered proactive, while cleaning after a surface has become dirty or a drain has a blockage is reactive.
The “staying-ahead” approach to proactive cleaning is critical in high traffic areas and helps people feel safe and secure. While proactive cleaning does not prevent or protect from future contamination, it does provide peace of mind, ensuring environments are as safe as possible. Reactive cleaning measures also need to be planned for as surfaces, floors, bathrooms, and plumbing can experience a sudden spill, clog, or contamination through daily use.
Deep cleaning and disinfecting are a high priority for households and businesses alike. Proactive cleaning with enzymes can help with the reduction of odors, bacteria, and mold growth and keep drains from witnessing organic buildup. Reactive cleaning with chemical agents will eliminate viruses or bacteria on surfaces that have been touched throughout a day or help combat a spill or inorganic clog. A great way to make sure households and workspaces are prepared for both proactive and reactive cleaning issues is to stock a mixture of supplies that serve both purposes.