Chemicals—Types of Cleaning Compounds

Types of Cleaning Compounds

Type Uses Hazards Examples
Strong alkali Destroys microbes, dissolves protein Corrosive, burns skin and lungs Sodium hydroxide (caustic soda)
Heavy-duty alkali Removes fats, mechanized systems Slightly corrosive Sodium carbonate
Mild alkali Lightly soiled areas, softens water
Sodium bicarbonate
Strong acid Dissolves surface mineral deposits Corrosive to concrete, metals and fabric Phosphoric and hydrofluoric acids
Mild acid Controls deposits, softens water Slightly corrosive levulinic, acetic, hydroxyacetic, and gluconic acids
Solvent Dissolves grease and oil
Soaps and detergents*** Emulsifies fats, oils, and grease

***Household cleaners have a pH of 8 to 9.5