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Cleaning agents and surface treatments are specialized chemicals, solutions, and additives used to clean and prepare surfaces. They are available in a variety of forms, including aerosols, gels, liquids, powders, and tablets. Many cleaning agents and surface treatments consist of aqueous solvents, terpene, oil, and special compounds such as waxes. Volumetric rate, dilution rate, or weight addition determine both the relative strength and amount required. Cleaning agents and surface treatments are applied with immersion or soak methods, spray processes, pressure washers, ultrasonic cleaners, clean-in-place (CIP, C-I-P) methods, and manual or hand scrub techniques. Over time, biodegradable cleaning agents and surface treatments decompose into non-toxic components. Semiconductor, optics, pharmaceutical, medical or biotech applications often require critical or residue free materials.
Cleaning agents and surface treatments include cleansers, strippers, degreasers, detergents, and abrasives. They also include additives such as rinse aids and inhibitors, and surface activators or primers that trigger curing or enhance bonding. Examples of disinfectants and sanitizers include biocides, germicides, sporicides, insecticides, pesticides, viricides, and repellents. Passivators and deactivators are cleaning agents and surface treatments that protect metal surfaces or deactivate chemically active layers. Etchants, pickles and bright dips corrosively attack surfaces to remove scale, oxidized metal layers, or damaged surface material. Descalers, desmutters, deoxidizers or mineral removers eliminate films or scales such as hard water deposits, urine scale, organic soils and metal oxides. Industrial cleaners are acidic, neutral, or alkaline and remove soot, rust, corrosion, and carbon.
Some cleaning agents and surface treatments include special features such as deodorants, masking scents, or perfumes. Others contain enzymatic systems for protein removal, or non-ionic surfactants. Abrasive, non-flammable, foaming, non-foaming, low-foam, and sudsing products are available. Some cleaning agents and surface treatments are free of solvents, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), or phosphates. Others inhibit rust or corrosion. Cleaning agents and surface treatments have different flash points and pH levels. According to the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), Class I liquids are flammable and have a flash point less than 100° F. Class II liquids are combustible and have a flash point between 100° F and 140° F.
There are many applications for cleaning agents and surface treatments. For example, these products are used widely in the aerospace, aircraft, automotive, transportation, pharmaceutical, and semiconductor industries. Cleaning agents and surface treatments are also used in laboratories, electronics, optics, medical devices, and nuclear power plants. For hospitals and healthcare facilities, as well as food and beverage producers, cleaning agents and surface treatments are needed in order to meet a variety of government regulations regarding sanitary conditions. Other market segments that use these products include maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) organizations; metalworking; textiles; and construction and building.
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