Ingredients Glossary

CategoryDefinition/PurposeTypical examples
Abrasive cleanerA cleaner that comes in powder and liquid form and contains a kind of built-in elbow grease, which helps cut down on the hard rubbing required to remove soil. These products are designed to remove relatively heavy amounts of soil often found in small
Calcite Feldspar Quartz Sand
AcidAn ingredient that neutralizes or adjusts the alkalinity of other ingredients. Some specialty cleaners need extra acidity to remove mineral build-up.Acetic acid Citric acid
Hydrochloric acid Phosphoric acid
Sulphuric acid
Active IngredientThe ingredient in a product that is responsible for the product’s function.
AlgaecideA product that destroys algae.Copper sulphate
AlkaliAn ingredient that neutralizes or adjusts acidity of other ingredients; makes surfactants and builders more efficient; and increases alkalinity, which is useful in removing acidic, fatty and oily soils. Detergents are more effective when they are alkaline.Ammonium hydroxide Ethanolamines Sodium carbonate Sodium hydroxide Sodium silicate
AntibacterialA product that destroys bacteria.Pine oil
Quaternary ammonium compounds
Sodium hypochlorite
AntimicrobialA product that destroys or inhibit growth of microorganisms that cause diseases and/or odour.Pine oil
Quaternary ammonium compounds
Sodium hypochlorite
Antiredeposition agentA substance that prevents soil from resettling after removal during washing.Carboxymethyl cellulose Polycarbonates Polyethylene glycol Sodium silicate
BactericideA product that destroys bacteria.Benzimidazole Dicarboximide Acylamines
BleachA product that helps whiten, brighten and remove stains. Bleaches convert soils into colourless, soluble particles that can be removed by detergents and carried away in the wash water. Liquid chlorine bleach (usually in a sodium hypochlorite solution) can also disinfect and deodorize fabrics. Oxygen (colour-safe) bleach is gentler and works safely on almost all
washable fabrics.
Sodium hypochlorite Sodium perborate Sodium percarbonate
BluingA product that contains a blue dye or pigment taken up by fabrics in the wash or rinse. Bluing absorbs the yellow part of the light spectrum, counteracting the natural yellowing of many
Dyes & pigments
BoosterA product that enhances the soil and stain removal, brightening, buffering and water softening performance of detergents.
Boosters are used in the wash in addition to the detergent.
Carpet and Rug CleanerA product that is formulated to wet the pile of the carpet and take up oily and greasy soils. Such products provide a system that traps soil in suspension and dries to a brittle solid residue. The brittle residue containing the soil particles is then removed
by vacuuming.
Hydrogen peroxide Sodium hydroxide Sodium citrate Sodium polyacrylate
Corrosion inhibitorA product that protects metal machine parts and finishes, china patterns and metal utensils.Sodium silicate
DisinfectantA product that destroys microorganisms on inanimate surfaces.Alcohol (isopropyl)
Drain OpenerBuild-up removers are liquids formulated to prevent the grease and soap scum build-up which causes clogged drains using enzymes to break down and digest organic materials, such as grease. Traditional drain openers often include sodium hydroxide to generate heat to melt fat and break it down to simpler substances that can be rinsed away. Some products also contain agents to produce gas which provides agitation in the drain, a further help in opening drains.Sodium hydroxide Enzymes
Potassium hydroxide
Dusting ProductA product that attracts, picks up and retains light dust and soil on cleaning cloths.
Enzyme pre-soakA product used for soaking items before washing to remove difficult stains and soils. When added to the wash water, enzyme pre-soaks increase cleaning power.Amylase (starch soils) Lipase (fatty and oily soils) Protease (protein soils) Cellulase
Fabric softenerA product that is added to the final rinse or dryer to make fabrics softer and fluffier; decrease static cling, wrinkling and
drying time; and impart a pleasing fragrance and make ironing easier.
Quaternary ammonium compounds
Film removerA product that removes build-up of hard water film and cloudiness from dishes and the interior of the dishwasher. They
are used instead of an automatic dishwasher detergent in a separate cycle or together with the detergent.
Sodium carbonate Sodium citrate
Sodium polycarboxylate Polyvinyl alcohol
Floor Care ProductA product that contains water as the carrier for small particles of wax such as polyethylene, and polymers such as polyacrylate. In products for wood or cork flooring, a solvent acts as the carrier for wax particles, such as those of natural carnauba wax which is especially effective in providing a pleasing shine and a
hard finish.
Polyethylene Polymers Polyacrylate
Natural carnauba wax
Fluorescent whitening agentA product that attaches to fabrics to create a whitening or brightening effect when exposed to daylight.Colourless fluorescing compounds
FormulantAn ingredient that adds smell, colour, viscosity, etc.Berol Caromax Dowanol Ninate
FragranceAn ingredient that provides pleasant odour to clothes and rooms.Fragrance blends
Furniture Cleaner and/or polisherThese products’ principal ingredients include silicone fluids and a wax, often a so-called microcrystalline wax. A hydrocarbon solvent helps remove oily stains and some wax build up.
Furniture cleaners/polishes can be formulated as water-in-oil or oil-in-water emulsions. An emulsion stabilizer is present in both to prevent the product from separating into two layers.
Fragrance and colour round out the product formulation.
Silicone fluids Microcrystalline wax Hydrocarbon solvent
Glass CleanerA product that contains surfactants to loosen soil, solvents to dissolve oily soils, and water as the medium to carry surfactants and solvents. Builders are included to remove heavier soils, especially oily soils. Alkaline builders, such as ammonia, are more effective on acidic soils like body oils or cooking grease.
Acetic acid (vinegar) provides better performance on alkaline soils like mineral salts. Opaque creamy glass cleaners contain surfactants and solvents. They also contain colloidal clays and silica, which absorb soil and dry after spreading. Any remaining dried solid shows areas that need to be wiped.
Surfactants Solvents Builders Alkaline builders Ammonia
Acetic acid (vinegar) Colloidal clays
Hard Water Mineral RemoverWater hardness is caused by the presence of dissolved mineral salts, such as those of calcium, magnesium, iron and manganese. When hard water evaporates, a mineral deposit is left behind which can build up over time. Hard water mineral removers are formulated to remove such deposits.Potassium Lime
Soda ash Zeolite
HazardAn intrinsic negative characteristic of a substance.
HydrotropeAn ingredient that prevents liquid products from separating into layers to ensure product homogeneity.Cumene sulphonates Ethyl alcohol Toluene sulphonates Xylene sulphonates
IrritantInflames skin temporarily.
Lime and rust removerA product that removes deposits of lime and/or rust from the
interior of the dishwasher. Lime and rust removers are used when no dishes or other dishwasher products are present.
Lauramine oxide Propylene glycol
Metal Cleaner and PolishMetal presents a special cleaning problem, tarnish (the oxidation of metal), which is the principal soil to be removed. Metal cleaning products are sold as pastes, thick opaque liquids or clear liquids which may hold a fine abrasive in suspension.
Surface impurities on most metals are removed more easily in an acidic medium. Metal cleaning products, therefore, usually contain organic acids, such as oxalic, sulphuric or citric. To aid in mechanical removal of tarnish and soil and contribute to metallic luster, a very mild abrasive is present as a polishing/buffering agent. Clay-like materials, such as kaopolite or finely divided hydrous silica, are common mild abrasives used. Metal cleaning formulations may also contain surfactants for ease of spreading the product as well as an aid in soil removal. Some products also contain an antioxidant, which protects the clean metal against rapid retarnishing.
Organic acids Oxalic acid Sulphuric acid Citric acid Kaopolite Hydrous silica Surfactants Antioxidants
MicroorganismA tiny cell.
Non-abrasive, all- purpose cleanerA product that can clean most non-porous surfaces. Non- abrasive, all-purpose cleaners are offered as powders that can be dissolved to the proper strength and as liquids that can be diluted or used full strength.Benzalkonium chloride Thymol
Hydrogen peroxide Phenol
OpacifierAn ingredient that reduces transparency or makes the product opaque.Polymers Titanium dioxide
Oven CleanerFor most oven cleaners designed to work in a cold oven, strong ingredients are necessary to remove burned-on soils. A strong alkali, like sodium hydroxide (lye), is the principal agent in such oven cleaning products. During use, the alkali converts the grease to soap. Another product type uses a combination of less alkaline salts plus oven heat to aid soil removal. Surfactant is also present to help penetrate soil and wet the surface. Oven cleaners are formulated to be as thick as possible to allow the product to cling to the soiled, greasy, vertical oven surfaces.Sodium hydroxide (lye) Surfactants
Oxygen bleachAn ingredient that may be combined with bleach activator for better performance in lower water temperatures.Sodium perborate Sodium percarbonate
PreservativeAn ingredient that protects against the natural effects of
product aging (for example, decay, discolouration, oxidation and bacterial attack).
Butylated hydroxytoluene Ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid
Prewash soil and stain removerA product used to pre-treat heavily soiled and stained garments, especially those made from synthetic fibres.Enzymes
Sodium Carbonate Oxygen bleach Preservatives
Processing aidAn ingredient that provides proper pour or flow, viscosity, solubility, stability and uniform density and assists in manufacturing.Clays Polymers
Sodium silicate Sodium sulphate Solvents
Recommended limitThe highest amount that is still safe.
RegistrantA body that has registered a pest control product.
Rinse agentA product that is used in addition to the automatic dishwasher detergent to lower surface tension, thus improving draining of the water from dishes and utensils. Better draining minimizes spotting and filming and enhances drying.Alcohol ethoxylate
Sodium cumenesulphonate Citric acid
RiskThe chance that an exposure to a hazard will occur.
RodenticideA product that destroys rodents.Chlorophacinone Diphacinone Warfarin Brodifacoum Bromadiolone Difethialone
SanitizerA product that reduces the level of microorganisms present by significant numbers or to acceptable levels established by federal or provincial health authorities.Benzalkonium chloride Ethyl alcohol
Shower CleanerA product that prevents build up of soap scum, mildew stains and hard water deposits without rinsing, wiping or scrubbing, and without leaving a dull residue or streaks. The products contain surfactants to help clean and prevent soap scum and hard water deposits and to aid water in sheeting off shower surfaces. Some products contain builders or chelates, and alcohol or solvents to assist in the continual cleaning process. Some also contain antimicrobial agents to kill germs, including mould and mildew.Surfactants Chelates Builders Alcohol Solvents
SolventAn ingredient that prevents separation or deterioration of ingredients in liquid products, dissolve organic soils and clean without leaving residue.Ethanol Isopropanol Propylene glycol
Spot treatmentUsing a product on a small spot.
Starch, fabric finish or sizingA product used in the final rinse or after drying to give body to fabrics, make them more soil-resistant and make ironing easier.
Suds control agentAn ingredient that ensures optimum sudsing (foaming) level needed for a cleaning job.
Suds stabilizerAn ingredient that maintains high sudsing where suds level is an
important indicator of cleaning power.
Alkanolamides Alkylamine oxides
Suds suppressorAn ingredient that controls sudsing where suds would interfere with cleaning action.Alkyl phosphates Silicones
SurfactantAn ingredient in soaps and detergents that makes liquids foam.Amine oxide Carboxylates Sodium stearate
Toilet Bowl CleanerA product that maintains a clean and pleasant-smelling toilet bowl by clinging to the sides of the toilet bowl, freshening the bowl or releasing active ingredients into the bowl with each flush of the toilet. Surfactants plus oxidants or acids are the primary ingredients for soil removal. The presence of acids or sequestrants facilitates removal of stains caused by hard water deposits and iron. Specific organic stains are cleaned by oxidizing agents present in some products. Toilet bowl cleaners with disinfecting action contain antimicrobial agents, such as quaternary ammonium salts. To dissolve stubborn rust and hard water stains, some products may contain strong acids, such as hydrochloric acid. Products containing sodium hypochlorite as the oxidizing agent also include alkalis, such as sodium
hydroxide, sodium metasilicate or sodium carbonate. Most toilet bowl cleaners contain a pleasing fragrance.
Surfactants Oxidants Acids Sequestrants
Quaternary ammonium salts Hydrochloric acid
Sodium hypochlorite Sodium hydroxide Sodium metasilicate Sodium carbonate
Tub, Tile and/or Sink CleanerA product that removes not only the normal soils found on bathroom and kitchen surfaces, but also hard water deposits, soap scum, rust stains and discolourations due to mould growth, which are common to these areas. Almost universally, such cleaners contain surfactants to penetrate and loosen soil. In addition, they may contain special sequestering agents and specific solvents to dissolve and keep calcium (hardness) deposits, soap scum and metal discolourations in solution.
Products designed to remove mildew stains may also contain an oxidant, such as sodium hypochlorite, antimicrobial agents to attack mould and mildew, and alkaline ingredients, such as
sodium carbonate, sodium silicate and sodium hydroxide.
Surfactants Solvents Sequestering agents Oxidants
Sodium hypochlorite Sodium carbonate Sodium silicate Sodium hydroxide
Volatile Organic CompoundOrganic gasses at room temperature.Ethylbenzene Toluene Xylenes
Water softenerA product added to the wash or rinse to inactivate hard water minerals. Since detergents are more effective in soft water, these products increase cleaning power.Potassium Lime
Soda ash Zeolite