Cleanup Solvents: A chemical compound that can be used to dissolve, extract, soften, or melt another compound is known as a solvent. Chemical solvents can be availed in two major varieties, often categorized as organic and inorganic solvents. These solvents are sold for industrial as well as private use, particularly in the domains of cleaning and maintenance. Water is the most common cleanup solvent that can dissolve both acids and bases.
Carbon is one of the most important elements present in organic chemical solvents. The presence of carbon makes these solvents ideal for removing stains, glue, abrasions, and paint. Hence, organic chemical solvents are often used as cleaning agents. On the other hand, inorganic chemical solvents are typically only used for research purposes and have very little commercial application, due to the lack of carbon in their composition.
The Types of Cleanup solvents
Water is known as the universal solvent and is perhaps the most common and popular organic cleanup solvent in the world. Apart from water, however, a variety of chemical compounds are used for the purpose of developing effective cleanup solvents for numerous industrial uses.
Typically, the principle of ‘like dissolves like’ is used by chemists when they’re developing a cleanup solvent for a specific task and trying to decide on the ideal compound for the product. Basically, the idea is that the cleanup solvent should contain a compound similar to the one on which it is to be applied.
Another mild cleanup solvent that is frequently put to commercial as well as residential use is rubbing alcohol, commonly known as Isopropyl alcohol. Due to its effectiveness, alcohol constitutes a major proportion of most commercial cleaning solvents. Usually, these solvents contain 70 percent rubbing alcohol, with 30 percent water being added for the sake of dilution. The water also makes the product safe for skin contact.
As a cleaning agent, rubbing alcohol helps remove mild stains and blemishes. For instance, cleaning solvents containing alcohol can be used to remove ink stains from clothing and upholstery, keep windows free of frost during winters, and eradicate grime from computer and smartphone screens. Sticky hair spray residue can also be removed from the surface of bathroom mirrors with the help of Isopropyl alcohol.
Hexane is another strong organic solvent frequently found in commercial lubricants and cleaning products. Loosening rusted zippers and lubricating rusty hinges are some of the common uses of hexane. One of the reasons why hexane is also highly effective as a cleanup solvent is that it has a hydrocarbon base. Hydrocarbon can easily remove difficult stains caused by vegetable oil, lipstick, crayon, and grease.
However, hexane is a strong chemical compound, unlike the milder rubbing alcohol (Isopropyl). Therefore, any cleanup solvents containing hexane must be handled with care. Moreover, hexane-based cleaning products should only be used in open and well-ventilated spaces. This will allow the toxic and flammable hexane fumes to escape into the world, instead of remaining trapped indoors. Hexane should also not be used in any area where it may potentially come into contact with open flames.
Acetone is an organic chemical of medium strength, somewhere between Isopropyl and hexane. It is volatile, colorless, and miscible in water. Cleanup solvents made from acetone are used for the production of makeup removers. Acetone can also be used to remove superglue from the skin, rub out abrasions from plastic surfaces, and to clean lacquer coatings from brass. However, acetone should be used with care as it is flammable and can be hazardous if inhaled regularly.
Tips for Handling Cleanup solvents
- Cleanup solvents should not be applied directly onto a surface. Instead, small amounts of the solvent should be poured on a rag before use.
- Clean and dry rags should be used when applying a cleanup solvent, as a soiled rag will only spread the dirt onto the surface being cleaned.
- When using a strong cleanup solvent, hardy gloves and an appropriate mask should be worn to prevent rashes and other skin problems.
- Chemical cleanup solvents should only be used in areas that are open and well-ventilated to allow any toxic fumes to escape.
- After being cleaned, the surface should be left untouched so that the cleanup solvent can evaporate completely without leaving any residue.
- To test the efficacy or strength of a chemical cleanup solvent, apply a small amount on plastic or paint.
- Using too much cleanup solvent can lead to corrosion, thus destroying the surface being cleaned.
- To avoid injury from spills or leaks, high-quality personal protective gear should always be used when applying a cleanup solvent.
Factories and other commercial establishments often make use of a variety of chemical cleanup solvents in order to maintain their equipment, tools, and machinery. Cleanup solvents are essential for the upkeep of die-cutting tools and machines. High-quality solvents, manufactured by trusted brands, provide the perfect balance of safety and efficacy within a reasonable price range.