Types of Cleaning Products
Laundry detergent is a mixture of builders, surfactants, and enzymes.
Builders are chemical compounds that serve to "soften" water. These softeners work by binding calcium and other minerals in your wash water. This helps the surfactants (detergents) to work better.
Enzymes are chemicals that break down food stains. These enzymes can be relatively expensive and this is one of the reasons that the better brands cost more than the bargain brands. The bargain brand may eliminate the enzymes in order to cut the cost. For day to day light washing this may not matter. If you have kids that get a lot of stains on their clothes, it will make a difference.
HE Laundry Detergent
HE (High Efficiency) Laundry Detergent is designed to be used in HE washing machines. HE washers use much less water than an old standard washer.
Because of the low water volumes, the detergent has to be a low-sudsing formula. A large amount of suds actually hurts cleaning performance when using low water volumes. HE laundry detergent is also superior to standard laundry detergent when it comes to holding dirt in suspension and away from your clothes.
Window and Glass Cleaner
Window cleaner formulas have changed a lot over the years. Original Windex was actually flammable!
Today, standard window cleaners are basically a mixture of surfactants, ammonia, and amino alcohol. These cleaners are designed to provide a streak-free shine on glass.
Carpet Cleaning Solution
Commercial carpet-cleaning solutions are chemically complex with several ingredients. These ingredients consist of alcohols, biocides, chelating agents, dispersants, polymers, solvents, and surfactants.
These cleaners are designed to penetrate deeply between carpet fibers. The carpet cleaning chemicals surround and "latch on" to dirt particles. Polymers are added to guard against future soiling and to condition the carpet to make it feel softer.
Automatic Dishwasher Detergent
The classic powder detergent for the dishwasher generally consist of sodium carbonate (washing soda) and sodium silicate. Some brands may contain surfactants and enzymes.
Sodium silicate is used as a corrosion inhibitor and will help protect the internal parts of your dishwasher.
Shower and Tub Cleaner
Shower/Tub cleaners are designed to dissolve soap scum. Soap scum is formed when the minerals in tap water react with the soaps and shampoos used for bathing.
This soap scum film is difficult to remove with normal cleaners. Many shower cleaners contain an acid that dissolves the soap scum. Other types contain chelating agents that break apart the soap scum allowing it to be rinsed away.
Classic drain cleaner/opener is sodium hydroxide (lye) mixed with bits of aluminum. When this mixture is added to water, a reaction is started that generates a lot of heat.
The lye reacts with any grease in the drain and actually turns the grease into a kind of soap. Hair and other organic matter are burned up and washed down the drain.
Do not get drain cleaners on your skin or in your eyes as it will burn them.