Cleaning & Restoration Association News

Letters to the Editor: Bathtub Chemistry

A reader responds to Bob Wittkamp's August 2000 ICS article on Bathtub Chemistry...

I just read Bob Wittkamp’s Bathtub Chemistry article in which he points out the problems associated with combining a cationic and an anionic product. I have been a serious student of carpet cleaning for ten years and I am careful about how I use chemicals. For the last couple of years I have been reading a lot about how we need to learn and teach cleaning as a science. I’m glad to see this interest but almost every time I call a chemical manufacturer with a question about a product I get the same hogwash –“that information is proprietary.”(See the letter I sent Cloroxä). Clorox Corp. Dear Sir/Madam:

I just spoke with a customer service representative about your Dry Clorox(TM) – Regular product. My question, in a nutshell, was this: does this product carry a cationic charge? I doubt that it does, but I need to know for certain, and for good reasons. She told me that information is proprietary.

I want to use your product as an additive booster for carpet cleaning because it works. The importance in knowing if its surfactant is cationic is this. Fifth generation nylon carpets, such as DuPont StainMaster, cannot be treated in any way with a cationic agent. It voids the warranty. Furthermore, mixing cationic and anionic cleaning products don’t work well together, and can result in a sticky goo. I’m a label reader. Most, if not all, laundry detergents state anionic/non-ionic surfactants. Your Regular Dry Clorox(TM) IS made to go into the machine with laundry detergents. Can I infer from this that your dry bleach is cationic free?

There are a select few carpet and upholstery cleaners who are called upon by fiber and carpet producers to provide warranty service. I am one of those cleaners. I have a need to know the characteristics of the products I work with. DON’T YOU AGREE?

Please send me an MSD Sheet. Kent Brashear, American Eagle Carpet Care Craftsman Pflugerville, Texas Bob Wittkamp replies: I think that one of the reasons that you got no clear answer from Clorax(TM) is that the you are proposing to use their product for a purpose not recommended ie, carpet cleaning. Why not use a product formulated for use on carpets? Thanks for reading my article!

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