Can A Carpet Cleaning Chemical Really Be Soap and Detergent Free?

Detergent free. Soap free. There are a lot of terms being used to describe this type of carpet cleaning chemical technology. But there is most often more to it than just the fact the solution does not contain any surfactants or detergents. There are a multitude of products from industry manufacturers that fit this category. But truth be told, these solutions remain quite a mystery. If they don’t contain any detergents or surfactants, butyls, or soaps, how do they clean? Some contain no solvents whatsoever. Why do some cleaners swear by them and others swear about them? Like most things, there are advantages and disadvantages to using these types of cleaning solutions. The key is understanding them and when they work best, and getting past some of the hype that often leads to bashing other types of products while disguising characteristics of their own.

In most cases, their main ingredient is a type of phosphate. In fact, that is what most of them are primarily composed of. Yet some are identified and certified as green. But you may have thought phosphates were considered anything but green. It can get confusing.

The main idea behind the origin of these products was the removal of detergents, soaps and surfactants. Now unless you live in a cave, you already know that soaps have not been used in carpet cleaning formulas for years. Surfactants? That’s another story. Surfactants have long been one of the backbones and mainstays of a carpet cleaning solution, whether it be a prespray or an extraction detergent. But surfactants can be sticky and hard to rinse from the carpet, depending upon their make-up. They were often fairly or unfairly identified as a culprit in rapid resoiling of carpets. Add to that fact that many of the most common nonionic detergents used were petroleum derived, and that one commonly used family of surfactants, the “nonyl-phenols” (say that fast 5 times) have been on city wastewater management hit lists for years because they are hard for sewer treatment systems to deal with. Thus, the soap free or detergent free revolution was launched. This lack of surfactants makes these formulas excellent at not causing any rapid resoiling, one of the reasons they do so well in the CRI Seal of Approval cleaning solution tests.

They do have a weakness though – Oil based soiling. Because many have no solvents to dissolve oily soils and no surfactants or detergents to emulsify oily soils, they often do not perform as well in residential and commercial environments that have a large build-up of oily based soling. (That is why they have no trouble with the CRI SOA cleaning test – there are no oily components in their test soil, yet.) But for maintained residential and high end commercial carpet cleaning, they can be very effective.

So what about the green thing? Well, since most of them contain only a few ingredients, there are not a lot of ingredients in these formulas that would have to qualify as green. One green testing organization allows for up to .5% phosphorus levels in the final use formula (diluted or ready-to-use), and can still be called green. If you think about how much we dilute a powder carpet extraction detergent when it is run through a truck mount (start at 1/320), their in-use formulas will often fall below the .5% threshold. Their other ingredients are usually rated green. Thus that is how they receive their “green certification.”

I don’t want to pretend to speak for other manufacturers, but let me tell you how new HydraFree from HydraMaster works, and why you will find a large segment of your customer base will love it. The phosphate helps it be a great cleaner. Many products stop there. But we go several steps further. One, we add a non-voc solvent that is listed on industry “green approved” lists to help strengthen the solution against oily soils. Second, we have an oxygenated powder that provides the formula with the cleaning and boosting power of oxygen. Finally, we add in a powder which makes the cleaning solution active and bubbly, some call it activated, others call it effervescent. Either way, it helps the soil come out easier. Together all these ingredients work to be a very effective cleaner and leave a residue free, squeaky-clean surface.

ImageHydraFree represents the newest technology in soap and detergent free carpet cleaning. Extraordinary cleaning results can be your expectation, while the soap and detergent free formula leaves the carpet squeaky clean and the free rinsing solution leaves the carpet refreshed with no sticky residue. HydraFREE contains no harsh chlorinated solvents, soap, detergents, surfactants, butyls, enzymes, or bacteria, yet it provides excellent cleaning results on carpet that has been exposed to high levels of soil and dirt. It is odor-free at use dilution and leaves no sticky soap or detergent residues that can contribute to rapid re-soiling of the carpet after cleaning and spotting wickback. HydraFree also uses the cleaning power of activated oxygen combined with a bubbly, effervescent additive to assist in activating other ingredients, soil suspension and extraction.  It cleans the grimiest and dirtiest of carpets while still meeting warranty restrictions for residential stain resistant carpet when diluted according to directions. HydraFREE is a versatile cleaning agent also. While it was designed as an extraction rinse for portable and truck mounted extractors, its unique formula makes it also effective as a hot water extraction prespray and spotting agent. It works well with hot, warm, or cold water cleaning applications. If you’re looking for one extraction agent that’s strong enough for carpet but safe enough for upholstery, you found it! It can be used virtually on any synthetic fiber. It’s also safe for your equipment! Best of all, HydraFree qualifies for the prestigious HydraMaster SafeClean designation. While this product meets industry guidelines for green cleaning solutions, it has not been evaluated by any independent third party certification group or agency. You can get more information or order HydraFree by clicking here.


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