The 4 Categories of Cleaning Agents to Consider for Your House


With a strong emphasis on maintaining a clean and healthy home, I've always explored different types of cleaning agents available in the market. Our vast array of services is designed to provide a hassle-free experience for property owners.

Over the years, my interaction with homeowners has made me realize the confusion that surrounds the use of cleaning agents. There are numerous products on the shelves, but not everyone knows which is the best for their specific needs. My aim is to provide some clarity on the matter, especially focusing on the 4 categories of cleaning agents.

Understanding cleaning agents and their uses can make a significant difference in the outcome of your cleaning tasks. It allows for effective cleaning, ensuring that your home is not just visually appealing, but also safe from potential health hazards.


Cleaning Services

This service includes cleaning of all communal areas of a complex such as corridors, stairways, lifts, communal showers and toilets, car park areas etc. Our expert cleaning team, with the use of the necessary equipment and supplies, will thoroughly clean the communal areas of your complex, so you are able to enjoy and be proud of your home.

What are cleaning agents?

Cleaning agents are substances, usually liquids, powders, sprays, or granules, used to remove dirt, including dust, stains, bad smells, and clutter on surfaces. The primary purpose of these agents is to create an environment free from unwanted substances that can harm health and the quality of living.

Cleaning agents work based on their specific components and are classified into categories according to their functions. They have varying levels of pH, and this influences their effectiveness on different types of stains and surfaces. The key is to know which agent to use for which type of cleaning task.

Some cleaning agents only clean the surfaces, while others disinfect or sanitize, which means they kill bacteria and other microbes. It is essential to remember that cleaning does not necessarily kill germs, but it helps remove them from the surface. And to add to this, there are different types of cleaning agents, each suited for specific cleaning tasks.

We can classify cleaning agents into four broad categories. Understanding these categories can help you make informed decisions about your home cleaning processes, which we will discuss next.

Which are the 4 essential agents?


Detergents are the most common type of cleaning agent and are often used for daily cleaning. They contain surfactants that reduce the surface tension of water, making it easier to remove dirt and grime from surfaces. Detergents come in various forms, including liquid, powder, and bar, and they are ideal for cleaning fabrics, dishes, and even hard surfaces.


Degreasers are specially formulated to handle tough greasy and oily stains. They work by breaking down the oils, allowing them to be washed away easily. This makes degreasers perfect for cleaning kitchen surfaces, automotive parts, and industrial equipment where grease and oil build-up is common.


Abrasives are cleaning agents designed to handle stubborn stains. They work by physically scrubbing the stain off the surface. Abrasives are commonly found in cleaning products for sinks, tubs, and cookware. They come in liquid or powder form, with small particles that rub against the surface to remove the dirt.


Acidic cleaning agents are typically used for tough cleaning tasks, like removing hard water deposits, rust, or scaling. The acid in these cleaning agents reacts with the stain, breaking it down, and allowing it to be easily washed away. However, acidic cleaners should be used with caution as they can be corrosive to certain materials.

How to keep safe when using cleaning agents

When using cleaning agents, safety is paramount. These products can be harmful if not used correctly. Always read and follow the manufacturer's instructions on the label. This includes using the recommended amount, wearing protective gear when necessary, and keeping the products out of reach of children and pets.

It's crucial to avoid mixing different cleaning agents, as this can result in harmful chemical reactions. For instance, mixing bleach with acids can produce a toxic gas. Also, ensure you have adequate ventilation when using these products, especially the more potent ones like degreasers and acid cleaners.

Proper storage of cleaning agents is equally important. Store them in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Keep them in their original containers with the labels intact, and always replace the cap securely after use.

Lastly, be aware of what to do in case of accidental ingestion, inhalation, or contact with the skin or eyes. Most cleaning products have emergency information on their labels, but you can also call your local poison control center for advice.

Why sanitizing is key to cleaning

Cleaning is the first step to remove dirt and germs, but sanitizing takes it a step further by killing the germs. Sanitizing reduces the number of pathogens on a surface to a safe level. This is especially important in areas like the kitchen and bathroom, where the risk of bacterial growth is high.

In today's world, the importance of sanitizing has never been more apparent. According to the CDC, sanitizing frequently touched surfaces is a crucial practice to prevent the spread of diseases, including COVID-19.

While most cleaning agents remove germs, not all of them sanitize. For sanitizing, you may need specific cleaning products that have disinfecting properties. Remember to read the labels carefully to ensure the product sanitizes or disinfects.

What is the classification of cleaning agents?

Cleaning agents can be classified into the four main categories: detergents, degreasers, abrasives, and acids. Each of these categories has its specific uses and is suited to different types of cleaning tasks.

Cleaning AgentTypical Uses
DetergentsGeneral cleaning tasks, such as cleaning fabrics and hard surfaces
DegreasersRemoving greasy and oily stains, typically used in kitchens and industrial areas
AbrasivesRemoving stubborn stains through physical scrubbing
AcidsTough cleaning tasks, such as removing hard water deposits and rust
It's important to note that these are general categories, and within each, there are several types of cleaning agents with various ingredients, strengths, and uses.

Which among the 4 kinds of cleaning agent can be used periodically on surfaces where grease has burned on?

Degreasers are the ideal cleaning agents to use on surfaces where grease has burned on. They are specially formulated to break down oils, making them easier to remove.

Here are a few examples of surfaces and situations where you might use a degreaser:

1. Kitchen counters and stovetops: Over time, cooking can lead to a build-up of grease, especially around the stovetop. A degreaser can help remove this build-up.
2. Barbecue grills: Grease and burnt food particles often accumulate on grills, making them difficult to clean. Degreasers can help break down this stubborn residue.
3. Automotive parts: Engine parts and other components often get covered in grease and oil. A degreaser can help clean these parts effectively.

Impact of Cleaning Agents on Health

The impact of cleaning agents on health is another critical factor to consider. Some cleaning agents, particularly those in the abrasive and acid categories, can cause skin irritation, eye damage, and respiratory issues.

According to a 2020 study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, regular use of cleaning products could have a similar impact on lung health as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. This risk is primarily due to the inhalation of harmful chemicals found in many cleaning products.

When using these cleaning agents, always use protective gear such as gloves and goggles, and ensure there is adequate ventilation. Alternatively, consider switching to gentler, non-toxic cleaning products, particularly if you have young children, elderly people, or individuals with respiratory issues in your home.

For more information on the safe and environmentally friendly use of cleaning agents, check out this comprehensive guide by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Proper Usage and Handling of Cleaning Agents

Here are some key guidelines on how to use these agents correctly:

1. Always read the product label before use: The label contains essential information on how to use the product effectively and safely, what to do in case of accidents, and how to dispose of the product correctly.
2. Use the right amount: More doesn't always mean better. Using more product than necessary can waste resources and may increase the risk of health issues and environmental damage.
3. Wear protective gear: When using any cleaning product, especially acids and abrasives, wear gloves and eye protection to prevent direct contact with your skin and eyes.
4. Ensure good ventilation: When cleaning, especially with degreasers and acids, make sure the area is well-ventilated to avoid inhaling the product's fumes.
5. Dispose of the product properly: Follow the disposal instructions on the product label to minimize environmental harm. Never pour cleaning agents down the drain unless the label specifically says you can.

Eco-friendly Cleaning Agents

Eco-friendly cleaning products are typically free from harmful chemicals, making them safer to use, especially around children and pets. They are often biodegradable and packaged in recyclable materials, thus minimizing waste and pollution.

Eco-friendly Cleaning AgentBenefitsConsiderations
Plant-based detergentsBiodegradable, non-toxicMay not be as effective on tough stains
Citrus-based degreasersLow VOC content, biodegradableCan be more expensive
Non-plastic microbead abrasivesDoes not contribute to microplastic pollutionMay require more elbow grease
Vinegar or citric acid cleanersNon-toxic, biodegradableNot effective on all types of dirt and grime


Maintaining a clean home is essential for your health and well-being, and understanding the different types of cleaning agents can make this task much easier. Whether it's general cleaning with detergents, dealing with greasy stains using degreasers, scrubbing stubborn dirt with abrasives, or tackling tough stains with acid cleaners, each type of cleaning agent has its unique role.

At Blue Orange, we are always ready to provide expert advice to help homeowners keep their homes in the best condition. And remember, while cleaning agents are powerful tools in maintaining a clean and healthy home, it's important to use them safely and responsibly.