Solvent degreasing (or solvent cleaning) is the physical process of using organic solvents to remove grease, fats, oil, wax or soil from various surfaces viz. metal, glass or plastic. Solvent-based degreasers essentially dissolve the grease and grime that are removed from substrate by wiping or washing down. Solvent-based degreasers can be further classified as water based or those based on volatile organic compounds. On the other hand,surfactant-based degreasers use various types of surfactants such as anionic, non-ionic or cationic surfactants to reduce the surface tension of water, improve wettability of the surface as well as break down dirt and grease from substrates and wash it away. Lastly, Enzymes are produced by bacteria and are completely organic in nature and break down oil and dirt into smaller particles.
Enzyme degreasers typically use a mixture of four main types of enzymes, and each of these act on different types of ‘dirt’. Kumar explains, “For example, protease breaks down protein-based soils including blood, urine, food, faeces, wine and other beverages. Lipase breaks down fat molecules like oils and grease. Amylase breaks down starch molecules like eggs, sugar, sauces, ice cream and gravy. Cellulase are used to soften fabric and restore colour to fibres made up of cellulose material. They also remove particulate soil and reduce fabric graying and pilling.”
Further, degreasers should be used depending on the type of substrate, type of grease and dirt present on the substrate and type of application. Depending on the nature of the business and environmental impact, the cleaning operations may require and should be closely monitored by professionals. Kumar suggests that degreasers used for household cleaning and degreasing water-based surfactants that are bio-degradable in nature should be used. These are generally based on mild surfactants such as SLES and LABSA. Enzymatic degreasers tend to be more expensive, he adds.
Is the usage of degreasers considered harmful for sensitive areas like kitchens? On this Naijil Kattalaparambil Surendran, General Manager, Trice Chemicals Ind. replies, “Not if the area is properly cleansed after the usage of the degreaser. Using large quantities of water is recommended while cleaning to ensure that no residue or trace is left. Also, for such sensitive areas the degreaser used must have certifications like ISO, GMP, HACCP etc. Further, it’s advised to use products that are approved by Dubai Municipality or any other governing body in the UAE.”
Also, training and PPE are a must while handling such cleaning agents. Safety in the use of degreasers starts from the packaging itself. For instance, Paul Santy, Sales Director, NEFMS Trading, emphasizes, “Our product Nefchem provides colour-coded refill bottles with appropriate labels to ensure safe usage of degreasers. Proper PPE is a must for the users while using such degreasers. Hence, we provide training on product usage, handling and health and safety."
Going forward, globally, a lot of manufacturers and service providers’ are going eco-friendly with rising concerns of global warming and water and energy conservation. Even the cleaning industry is following the suit. Manufacturers in the UAE are not far behind. Nefchem products from NEFMS are formulated with raw materials that meet international standards and are biodegradable and are even approved by Dubai Municipality.
Trice Chemicals uses less chemical-based acids and alkaline-based materials for the manufacturing of cleaning chemicals and disinfectants. The company has received the Good Manufacturing Practice certificate (GMP). GMP certification ensures that products are consistently produced and controlled according to the quality standards. It is designed to minimise the risks involved in any pharmaceutical production that cannot be eliminated by testing the final product. “Besides, we make sure that there will not be any wastage while manufacturing. The general waste is recycled, and it is used in the next production cycle,” adds Surendran.
Fayfa Chemicals is ISO 9001 and 14001 certified and also has received GMP (ISO 22716) certifications. “We are audited and certified by the world’s leading auditors like TuV Nord and SGS. Apart from using eco-friendly raw materials, wherever possible, we also actively follow environmentally responsible manufacturing while employing the principles of reduce, reuse and recyle,” says Kumar.
According to Surendran there is huge demand for degreasers in the market. The latest product launched by Trice Chemicals includes surface sanitizer which can be used in the food preparation area and a multi-purpose cleaners designed specially to be used in the food production areas.
Nefchem is in the process of launching a live bacteria-based degreaser for cleaning grease traps. This product is suitable for use in kitchens, restaurants, slaughter houses, F&B industries, etc. “The eco-friendly live bacteria-based degreaser liquid will be dosed at set intervals through our automatic dispensers fixed in the kitchen. We have already started testing this product at various customer locations and have received positive feedback with regard to its effectiveness and safety," says Santy.
Likewise, Fayfa Chemicals is introducing a large range of enzymatic products, in joint venture with companies from India and Europe. “These products are used for institutional cleaning. Enzymatic products are at the early stage, where early adopters have started using it for various reasons. It is similar to electric cars – I am sure in the next decade, the conventional cleaners that you see today will be largely replaced by enzymatic products,” affirms Kumar.
Meeting clients’ expectations
The process of degreasing requires a lot of expertise and best cleaning practices to deal with tough stains without impacting the surface and the client’s expectations. “Our state-of-the-art automated plant located at Dubai Investment Park in Dubai has a well-equipped laboratory and experienced staff to carefully monitor the quality of the products at every stage from manufacturing to packaging. We have the capability to offer tailor-made solutions to address the cleaning challenges faced by our customers. Nefchem is ably supported by experienced professionals and consultants in the industry, and our products comply with all the required industry standards,” opines Santy.
“Our dedicated Sales & Marketing team supported by well-qualified technical personnel delivers a complete one-stop-solution to our customers. We jointly work with active professionals in the hospitality and consultancy industry to address cleaning, hygiene and technical challenges. We provide periodic trainings to all users to ensure that the products are used as per our standard dilution while maintaining proper safety standards.”
Surendran contributes, “We study the customer requirements by visiting the sites after which our research team undergoes various methods and accordingly design the products to meet the customer requirements. In order to serve our customers better we have strengthen our research team and also increasing our stocking and production capacity. Now, once we get the order confirmed we can make the delivery within a day's time.”
Overall, the positive growth in the usage of degreasers and the various technologies being introduced to improve their applicability says a lot about the effectiveness of these products in general.