Commercial cleaning liquids are often supplied in concentrate form and in large containers, in order to save on freight and storage costs, and it is up to the user to dilute them to the correct concentration for the job at hand. This requires accurate measurements, and simply ‘doing it by eye’ is an invitation to disaster.
Diluting or mixing cleaning agents without accurate measurement can lead to:
Injury from under-diluted cleaning agents, e.g respiratory injury, chemical burns etc.
Damage to items from under-diluted cleaning agents, e.g decomposition or staining.
Poor cleaning performance due to over-dilution and under-dilution
Dangerous, slippery residues from under-dilution, e.g limonene-based floor cleaners.
Increased cost from wasted materials
For accurate measurements, especially when using concentrates in large containers, pumps and other kinds of dispenser are essential. Pouring concentrates out from 5l or 10l containers into jugs for mixing is not permissible, as the risks of spillage, lifting injury and inaccurate measurements are too high.
For cleaning agents that come with screw cap containers, it may be necessary to buy additional dispensers and pumps in order to be able to use them safely. Together with the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) that should accompany all cleaning liquids (and other industrial chemicals), all employees need to be fully aware of the dilution ratio and safe use of all cleaning liquids, and all liquids must be fitted with pumps or dispensers that deliver a known and measured dosage.
MSDS must be stored with the chemicals at all times, and it is worth keeping office copies for reference and training as well. For more information about MSDS, and the correct measurement and mixing of cleaning chemicals, the Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) information about the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (CoSHH) regulations is a good place to begin. The HSE even produces a leaflet, SR2, that covers the CoSHH essentials for service and retail and includes information on precisely this topic.