New Alconox Blog



Monday, October 10, 2011

How to decontaminate stainless steel of radioactive contamination?

Does Alconox decontaminate stainless steel from radioactive contamination?


Yes, Alconox powder can decontaminate stainless steel of radioactive contamination. The phosphates and chelating agents combined with the wetting agents in Alconox are known to be effective at decontamination.  

We recommend use of a warm (if practical, otherwise ambient temperature solutions, it just takes longer) 1% (10 g/L or 1.25 oz/gal) solution of Alconox detergent in water for manual or soak cleaning. Do not use any kind of pressure spray or automated cleaning equipment as Alconox is a high foamer.  

Note that Alconox will bind with radioisotopes and will inhibit separation and waste treatment of the spent cleaning solutions by ion exchange columns.  It is better to treat spent cleaning solutions by evaporation than by ion exchange.  Sometimes it is necessary to use an anti-foamer in the evaporator depending on the evaporator design and the volume of solution being treated with what other types of waste streams if any.

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How to degrease aluminum?

What is the best cleaner to use when degreasing aluminum?


First, the word "degreasing" is a technical term used by many metal manufacturers that means removing oil (with or w/o grime) on the surface of the metal. 

It comes from the historical use of a vapor degreaser using freon, where people dipped dirty metal parts in to the freon vapor, the vapor condensed on the part and dripped off while solvating off the oil, then more vapor formed to rinse. You did not have to rinse with this type of cleaner. Freon is ozone depleting so it is not commonly used any more, but because of this history the industries that used to use them do not like to rinse. 

Degreasers can also mean heavy duty alkaline cleaners, typically with corrosion inhibitors - sometimes these industries never even rinse these because they are just not that critical an application (removing grease from engine parts in a railroad engine that is going to be reassembled and have fresh grease put on it for example).

If the bare aluminum has been recently cut, abraided, polished, turned or drilled, then the passive oxide layer will have been broken and if it has not had time to reform in air (takes 15 min or so) or if it has an oily coating that interferes with air getting to the surface, then the aluminum is not passivated.  Unpassivated aluminum will be attacked by an alkaline cleaner, even ones with mild pH or silicate corrosion inhibitors.  For unpassivated aluminum we only recommend using Citranox or Citrajet for degreasing

If Citranox or Citrajet is not  rinsed off an aluminum salt will form on the surface.  For most applications this will not harm the aluminum, and will only cause slight brown discoloration mostly visible by magnified inspection and barely detectable to the naked eye as a golden brown discoloration. 

It is always recommended to rinse, and the first rinse water following the Citranox or Citrajet cleaning should be with cold tap water NOT DI.  DI water is more ion hungry, will expose more sites to undesirable oxidation from the dissolved  oxygen, and will cause discoloration of the unpassivated surface.  If tap water is not available as first rinse, then wait 15 minutes before rinsing in DI at the expense of any possible problems with dried on and/or redeposited residues from the cleaner. 

In heavy duty degreasing, people may be fine simply wipe rinisng or blowing off the parts and can probably live with any trace hazy discoloration.  For more critical cleaning where the term degreasing is less likley to be used, you absolutely have to rinse thoroughly. 

If the bare aluminum (or metal) has the protective oxide layer present and is in a passive state, then we recommend an alkaline cleaner: either mild pH or with silicate corrosion inhibitors. 

Note that anodized aluminum is an aluminum that has been electrically treated to form a stronger oxide or other coating that you typically would safely recommend an alkaline cleaner for, unless there has been cutting or anything that has gone thru the anodizing in which case you are back to all the concerns about bare aluminum.   Typically people do not cut or abraid anodized aluminum, they would do the anodizing after all the cutting or drilling.

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How to clean installed solar panels using minimum amounts of water?


How to clean installed solar panels using minimum amounts of water?


For field cleaning of solar modules, I recommend using Liquinox detergent. (See the MSDS and technical bulletin links below). This is a concentrate that would be used at a 1% solution (1.25 oz/gal, or 10 mL/L).

Liquinox is not harmful to discharge onto the ground in an agricultural setting nor will it attack glass or aluminum substrates. I would recommend developing a cleaning procedure that allows you to spray on the 1% Liquinox solution using irrigation water (possibly use a garden sprayer or backpack sprayer), then:
  • allow the sprayed on solution to sit for as long as is practical without excessive evaporation, 
  • do some scrubbing with a light plastic brush to get any really tough spots loosened up, 
  • rinse thoroughly with irrigation water,
  • if practical, do a final rinse and finally squeegee dry. 
Water spots occur when tap water or dirty water evaporates and deposits contaminants on the surface; using a squeegee removes the water before it can evaporate and make spots. Whoever is doing the cleaning needs to understand this and learn to work in a way that minimizes evaporation, particularly on the final rinse. 

For the Liquinox MSDS, see: 
For the Liquinox Technical Bulletin, see:

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How to eliminate beading when cleaning pipettes?


We are doing some experiments to quantify the amount of liquid residue on pipette walls before/ after cleaning. In practise, this would relate the accuracy of the pipette to its cleanliness. 

Could you inform us if the use of Alconox affects the amount of beading (of distilled water) on the walls of a brush cleaned and rinsed pipette, compared with the use of common dishwashing liquid? 

Proper cleaning of a pipette will result in proper functioning of the pipette: the designed amount of fluid being measured will be correct if the pipette is clean and the surface energy of the glass in not altered by any residues that would change the shape of the beading of the fluid being measured.  Typically pipettes are calibrated for water, but you can get specialty pipettes designed for other fluids, such as milk. 

Alconox is free rinsing, which means it does not contain any fragrances, dyes, cationic surfactants, fluorescent whitening agents, corrosion inhibitors, skin emollients or other ingredients that are designed to leave deposits on the substrate being cleaned.  If you rinse thoroughly, you will not have any Alconox residues to cause a change in surface energy of the pipette. 

A common dishwashing liquid might have a risk of depositing one of these non-free-rinsing ingredients that would typically be hydrophobic and would alter the surface energy of the glass/solution interface and change the accuracy of the pipette.  Smaller pipettes have a chance of residues impacting the pipette’s functioning.

For an Alconox MSDS and technical bulletin, see: 

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cleaning 303 SS Pins


I am looking for the proper cleaner to use to prepare some small parts for bonding. We are attempting to use silicone to seal 303 stainless steel pins into black polycarbonate housing.

The 303 stainless steel pins appear clean but the silicone adhesive Dow Corning 3-8264 does not consistently adhere to the pins.

Is Alcojet the correct cleaner to remove the machining oils from the pins and leave the surface residue free for bonding?

Thanks for your question about cleaning stainless steel pins prior to bonding with silicone adhesive. I recommend you use:
  • 1% (1.25 oz/gal) Alconox solution
  • at (120-130 deg F or hotter)
Use the Alconox solution for manual and ultrasonic cleaning of the stainless steel pins followed by a thorough rinse, preferably a running water rinse.  Ideally rinse with distilled or deionized water, or do a running water rinse with tap water followed by a final dip rinse in distilled or deionized water. Ideally dry by a water-removing rather than water-evaporating technique such as blowing off the pins with forced air.

Alcojet is not the ideal detergent to choose for manual and ultrasonic cleaning.  Alcojet is intended to be used in automated spray machine washers.

For an Alconox MSDS and technical bulletin, see: 

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Monday, May 09, 2011

Cleaning a 3 cu ft V blender

How would you clean a 3 cu ft V blender?

I recommend using a 0.5% Solujet solution of 12 L to clean the 3 cu ft V blender followed by 2 rinses and then a 3rd sampling rinse.  You may wish to do riboflavin UV testing to assure complete coating of the blender with this volume of water (see pp 100 of the book). 

Use the calculator at to review acceptable residue limits. I suggest you use conductivity to detect the Solujet if you have such a meter available to you. As requested, here is a price quote for Solujet effective Jan 1, 2011. 

  • 1 gal Solujet $58.80. weighs 12 lbs 
  • Case 4X1 gal Solujet for $181.00, weighs 47 lbs 

(Plus shipping by UPS ground and hazmat handling charges ($30) shipping from Jersey City, NJ 07304.)

Alconox Detergent Ingredients

How do I find out the ingredients of Alconox cleaners?

To find out the ingredients of Alconox cleaners, first review either the Pharmaceutical Cleaning Validation references, the MSDS or technical bulletin for the brand you are interested in.

The Pharmaceutical Cleaning Validation References discuss various analytical methods to detect components of the detergents along with general information about how much of the component of interest is in each detergent.   The MSDS discloses approximate content of various ingredients, including any ingredients with any particular associated hazard or irritation.

The technical bulletin gives a list of the general ingredient types in each product.  If further detail is required, you will need to contact Alconox at and ask for a non-disclosure agreement for the brand of cleaner you want to know the ingredients for along with the purpose for your need to receive this proprietary information disclosure.  Your request will be evaluated and an agreement sent if appropriate.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How to Clean Parts Prior to Soldering

Need to clean parts to be soldered prior to applying solder.

To clean parts prior to solder you need to consider what residues you are trying to remove from the parts and how you want to clean.  For general purpose oils and residue cleaning by manual, soak or ultrasonic cleaning methods, we recommend using a warm or hot 1% Liquinox solution followed by a thorough rinse.  If you want to remove surface oxides and brighten the parts, we recommend using warm or hot 2% Citranox solution followed by a thorough rinse.

Removing RMA Solder Flux

We need to remove RMA solder flux on indium/lead soldered subassemblies. Most aqueous cleaners attack this solder.

According to the Materials Handbook by GS Brady et al, indium lead solders are alkali resistant solders.  Rosin based RMA fluxes are best cleaned by alkaline/saponifying cleaners with no conductive cations such as Detergent 8.  

The organic amine in Detergent 8 forms a water soluble soap with the rosin. Because Detergent 8 is cation free, it cannot leave conductive residues.  We recommend using a 3% Detergent 8 solution for ultrasonic immersion cleaning or a 5% Detergent 8 solution for manual cleaning of indium/lead soldered subassemblies.  

Detergent 8 is a hazmat that most package sizes must ship by ground.  You can ship a 5 gallon jerrycan of Detergent 8 by air.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Removing DNA Residue

We are currently using Alcojet for routine labware cleaning. Since we work on DNA plasmid isolation, I wonder if using Alcojet could remove residual DNA. If not, how much residue could be left? I would really appreciate your answer as unfortunately we have continued using the labwares for a year already. Your comment will be much appreciated.

Thank you for your question about DNA plasmid cleaning. Alcojet is capable of removing DNA plasmids as whole strands. However, Alcojet is not the best product to use for cleaning DNA Plasmids. Alcojet is a high pH alkaline cleaner. DNA is not labile to alkaline hydrolysis.

It is more effective to clean with an acid detergent rather than an alkaline detergent. For manual and soak cleaning I would recommend using a warm 2% Citranox solution (20 mL/L). For machine cleaning I would recommend using a 1% Citrajet (10 mL/L) solution. See prior 2009 Tech Note: Removing DNA.

Note that your washer may not be set up to dose liquid detergents. If your washer does not have liquid dosing pumps and hoses, then I would recommend choosing a washing cycle that does not have a presoak cycle in it and dosing the correct amount of liquid detergent in to the bottom of the washer and then turning on the machine so that it goes directly to a hot, long, wash cycle. Do not use a pre-wash cycle which will be short and with ambient temperature water that will use up all the detergent ineffectively and there will be no detergent present when the machine goes to the long, hot wash cycle.

Consult the owner’s manual of the washer to see how much water is used in the wash cycle. A typical under counter washer will use 8 L of water in a wash cycle, so you need to dose 80 mL of Citrajet in to the bottom of your washer at the beginning of the hot wash cycle. If your washer has liquid dosing capability, then simply hook up the Citrajet bottle to the washer by the tubes that are in the washer. If you have been using Alcojet for a year, this does not mean you definitely have had cleaning failures, but it does mean that you are not cleaning the best way and you do have some risk of cleaning failures.

Alconox and the Environment

I will be sampling sediments in a lake with a drilling unit. I am wondering if Alconox is harmful to the environment. i.e. if it got into the lake, is there a possibility of harm? I plan on using it to rinse drill bits. Also, what concentration is typical??

Alconox is recommended for use at a 1% concentration (10 g/L).

In sufficient quantity, Alconox, like just about anything, will impact the environment. If you discharge 5,000 lbs of Alconox at once, you would be discharging an EPA reportable quantity under CERCLA regulations. I presume you have no intentions of discharging anything like this quantity.

Alconox does contain phosphates which are essential nutrients and can promote algae growth in phosphorous limited ecosystems. The algae can deplete oxygen and then die causing silting up of surface waters - this is eutrophication. You would need large quantities of Alconox to cause significant eutrophication.

Alconox contains surfactants, which in high enough concentration are hazardous to fish - typically you would have to reach 100s of mg/L in concentration to be harmful to fish.

Alconox has been widely used for field cleaning of environmental sampling equipment for decades and we have never had any reported incident of environmental impact. Alconox is biodegradable.

If you spill enough Alconox directly in to a lake, I imagine it could form a stable detergent foam that might take a few hours to dissipate. Although this foam would not be particularly harmful, it would be unsightly. I suspect that a bucket full of Alconox dumped briskly in to a lake might make enough foam to be unsightly.

Friday, March 18, 2011

How to Select the Correct Detergent

Does Alconox provide any literature on how to select the correct detergent for various applications?

Yes! The Alconox Guide to Critical Cleaning contains a detergent selection guide as well as industry specific cleaning information for Medical Device Manufacturing, the Pharmaceutical industry, Laboratory, the Environmental industry, and various other industries. The guide provides critical cleaning procedures which includes directions for Alconox detergents, cleaning method instructions for Ultrasonic, CIP, and various other methods.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Maximum Wash Temperature for Liquinox

What is the maximum wash temperature for Liquinox? At this maximum temperature is there an accelerated breakdown of detergent?

Liquinox is heat stable all the way to boiling at standard temperature and pressure conditions. From a practical standpoint, there are some detergency mechanisms that begin to break down mechanistically as you approach boiling. Emulsions begin to become less stable as you approach within a couple degrees of boiling. If emulsifying is not a critical cleaning mechanism, this may not be relevant to you. Maintaining a hot temperature and keeping water from evaporating is also a practical consideration as far as maximum temperature is concerned. As you approach boiling, the rates of evaporation of water increase and it becomes more important to add make-up water in order to maintain a controlled concentration of Liquinox. It is also of course energy intensive to maintain a near boiling solution. As you approach boiling, corrosion mechanisms are at their peak, so sometimes it does not pay to approach boiling temperatures from a substrate stability standpoint. From a practical standpoint, you would not typically use Liquinox much above 95 deg C (200 deg F). With that said, there are unique applications we are aware of that employ boiling Liquinox for small parts washing, i.e. used in jewelry making where parts are dipped into a pot of boiling Liquinox and the end user has to periodically add make-up water to compensate for water evaporation.

Measuring Concentration through Conductivity

How can I use conductivity to measure the concentration of a Solujet solution in order to control the concentration in a cleaning bath?

In cleaning machines that have sumps or baths that are used repeatedly for cleaning where there will be dragout of solution on the parts being cleaned, evaporation of water, make-up water being added, and possibly dilution with rinse water, the cleaner concentration will constantly be changing as the solution is altered by any of these mechanisms. One way to control this is to monitor the conductivity of the solution which will allow you to determine the concentration of Solujet present which in turn will allow you to determine how much Solujet to add to bring the solution back up to full cleaning strength. For example the conductivity of Solujet at 22 deg C for weight/weight percent Solujet is as follows: 0.125% = 0.64 mS; 0.25% = 1.26 mS; 0.5% = 2.45 mS; 1% = 4.85 mS; 2% = 9.2 mS; and 4% = 17.9 mS. You can contact Alconox at to get a copy of an excel spreadsheet with this data in it along with a graph for interpreting results.

Alconox Soak Time for Tattoo Instruments

During a recent inspection, I found the tattoo facility soaking their tattoo gun tubes in a solution of Alconox for up to 3 to 5 days before they accumulate enough of them to put through the steam sterilizer. Is this an appropriate use of the Alconox solution? Should the same solution be used for 3 plus days?

The intended and recommended way to use Alconox is to make up a solution and to soak and clean promptly (within 8 hours). We have data showing that a diluted Alconox solution can last for 3 weeks in a closed container.

Longevity of Tergazyme Solution

How long will the enzyme in a 1% solution of Tergazyme remain active?

A 1% Tergazyme solution is designed to give good reliable cleaning performance for 8 hours at 120 deg F. This is designed to correspond to an 8 hour work shift in a hospital. We are confident that after 8 hours there will still be good enzymatic activity as long as you have not exceeded 130 deg F temperatures, so if by chance the Tergazyme solution is not changed or made fresh at the beginning of a shift, it should still provide some cleaning efficiency. We do not recommend routinely using a solution for 16 hours.

Removing Fish Oil Residues

We would like to have a neutral foaming cleaning agent to clean FISH OIL and GELATIN residues. We will also need a validation method to test residue.

I recommend you evaluate Liquinox detergent. Liquinox is a neutral pH range, high foaming concentrated cleaner. You dilute it 1:100 or 10 mL/L to use it. For fish oil and gelatin I would use a hot solution to clean with followed by a hot rinse. I am sure you are aware that fish oil can have a very persistent odor. Using a neutral range cleaner to remove fish oils, you may need to clean more than once, or you may need to clean once very thoroughly. You may need to use a very hot water solution for the best results. Be sure your first rinse is as hot as or hotter than your cleaning solution so as to avoid hitting the surface with a cold rinse that will break the emulsion of residual oil and cause it to redeposit.

Review the cleaning validation references for Liquinox - once you know which residue detection method you want to use, please let us know and we will send you the details of that method. I believe Pramod Patel of Emcure has developed a residue detection method for the anionic surfactant in Alconox powdered detergent- I believe an HPLC method. You can use this same method to detect the anionic surfactant in Liquinox as a residue detection method. Note that if you were willing to use the still very mild pH Alconox powder (pH 9.5), that hot 1% Alconox could be used for this cleaning purpose as well. I am recommending Liquinox because you asked for a neutral cleaner.

Method to Detect Trace Residues

How do I find an analytical method to detect trace residues of Alconox brand cleaners for a cleaning validation?

The best place to find analytical methods for detergent residue detection for either a pharmaceutical or medical device cleaning validation are on the "Pharmaceutical Cleaning Validation" references found on the upper right hand corner of This document refers to many possible methods and discusses how to use them.

Once you have reviewed the references, contact Alconox at for details about your preferred analytical detection method.