How to Choose the Correct Chemical for Your Specific Cleaning Task

How to Choose the Correct Chemical for Your Specific Cleaning Task

Choosing the proper chemicals to keep your building clean can be overwhelming. Businesses rely on a variety of cleaning agents to achieve a safe and effective clean that promotes good health and wellbeing. While there are many “all-purpose” cleaners on the market, these chemicals are usually not sufficient when it comes to daily maintenance and stubborn messes.

Before selecting cleaning products for your business, learn about the types of chemical cleaners available and which tasks they are best suited for.

Cleaning Chemicals for Use in Commercial Settings

Different cleaning chemicals may be used to clean and sanitize various surfaces within a business environment. There are four main types of cleaning agents commonly used in commercial settings: detergents, degreasers, abrasives, and acids.



Detergents offer a safe and effective way to clean a variety of surfaces. They are available in liquid, gel, or powdered form and are generally safe for use in commercial kitchens. When combined with water, detergents help break up and loosen dirt and grime so that it can be washed away.

Complex soluble phosphates, also known as “builders,” may be added to some detergents. These cleaners are generally marked as “heavy-duty” and are capable of removing oily dirt. Detergents are considered surfactants that are designed to lower the surface tension of water, creating a ‘wetter’ substance that interacts with oils.



Some of the most powerful cleaning agents are acids and therefore should be used with great care. Acids are useful for removing hard-water deposits, rust stains from iron, and discoloration caused by brass, copper, bronze, or aluminum. They should not be used on clothing, leather, and certain metals as they can be highly corrosive.

Acid cleaners can range from mild to strong, depending on the ingredients they contain. Environmentally-friendly cleaners may contain ingredients like vinegar which is fairly mild but effective in removing hard-water deposits from glassware. Oxalic acid is very strong and is commonly used to remove rust. Sulfuric and hydrochloric acids must be diluted before use. These acids can often be found in toilet bowl cleaners.



Degreasers are most commonly used in commercial kitchens due to their efficiency in removing tough grease from stovetops, ovens, countertops, and backsplashes. Also referred to as solvent cleaners, degreasers are used to get rid of grease and other oil-based contaminants from concrete, metal, or other surfaces.

Commercial degreasers can be found in a variety of forms, such as sprays, foams, powders, wipes, or solutions. Butyl degreasers are water-based and are often used to clean petroleum-derived grease, such as motor oil. Non-butyl degreasers are high-alkaline cleaners and work well for soap scum in bathrooms or animal-fat-based grease in kitchens.



Abrasives are used in combination with scrubbing or rubbing actions to remove dirt or debris from hard surfaces. They contain abrasive ingredients that when scrubbed, help break up layers of dirt or grease to lift and remove them from surfaces. Many abrasives have a gritty consistency that can cause scratches on materials like plastic or stainless steel so they should always be used with caution.

Cleaning chemicals that are abrasives may be used for a variety of purposes, such as removing stains from floors or discoloration from pots and pans. In addition to dry abrasives like powders, businesses can also use wet abrasives for a gentler clean. These cleaners contain more surfactants resulting in a more subtle abrasive action.

Shop Competitive Choice for Specialty Chemicals

Modern businesses depend on a variety of chemicals to keep their buildings clean and hygienic for employees and customers. However, not all cleaning chemicals are made equal. There are several elements to consider when purchasing commercial chemicals, including ease of use, performance, and environmental awareness.

At Competitive Choice, we offer a broad selection of specialty chemicals designed to help tackle any cleaning task that may arise. Shop our CCI brands that include detergents, acids, degreasers, abrasives, and other essential cleaning agents.