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Water-based cleaners vs solvent cleaners

When it comes to cleaning, choosing the right product is essential for achieving optimal results. Two popular categories of cleaning products are water-based cleaners and solvent cleaners. In this article, we will explore the characteristics, uses, and benefits of both types of cleaners to help you make an informed decision.


What are water-based cleaners?

Water-based cleaners, as the name suggests, are cleaning solutions primarily composed of water. They use acidic or alkaline substances as active ingredients, e.g. citric acid or ammonia. They may also contain detergents, emulsifiers, saponifiers and other components. These are meant to chemically react with contaminants and make it easier for them to dissolve in water.

Water-based cleaners are known for their versatility and effectiveness in removing dirt, stains, and grime from various surfaces. They are generally safe to use, eco-friendly and non-flammable. Water-based cleaners are commonly used in households, commercial settings, and industries where solvent cleaners may be unsuitable.


What are solvent cleaners?

Solvent cleaners are cleaning agents that use solvents as the primary active ingredient. Solvents are chemicals capable of dissolving other substances, making them highly effective for removing tough stains, grease, oil, and adhesives.

Solvent-based cleaners employ chemicals such as alcohols, hydrocarbons, or chlorinated solvents to dissolve and lift contaminants. They are commonly used in industrial settings where heavy-duty cleaning is required. However, it’s important to note that solvent cleaners can be hazardous if not used properly. They should always be handled with care and stored safely.


Key Differences between water-based cleaners and solvent cleaners:


  • Cleaning power: Solvent cleaners excel in tackling tough stains, due to their strong dissolving properties. Water-based cleaners, on the other hand, are effective in removing water-soluble substances and general dirt or grime. The choice between the two depends on the specific cleaning requirements and the type of surface being cleaned.
  • Operating temperature: Water-based cleaners are usually effective at room temperature and are not suitable for extremely hot or cold environments. Solvent-based cleaners are effective across a wider range of temperatures.
  • Evaporation: Solvent-based cleaners tend to evaporate quickly, leaving no residue behind. Some solvent cleaners contain additives that are meant to slow down evaporation and give the product more time to dissolve dirt and grime. Water-based cleaners, on the other hand, evaporate at the rate of water and usually require rinsing.
  • Safety: Water-based cleaners are generally considered safer to use compared to solvent cleaners. Solvent cleaners may release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can be harmful when inhaled or come in contact with the skin. Water-based cleaners, being less volatile, present a lower risk to users. Water-based cleaners are also non-flammable. Some solvent cleaners are flammable, while others are not.
  • Environmental impact: Water-based products have a lower environmental impact than solvent based products, as they contain fewer chemicals that can contaminate soil or groundwater when used on outdoor surfaces or disposed of incorrectly.


In the comparison between water-based cleaners and solvent cleaners, there is no clear winner. Both types have their strengths and weaknesses, making them suitable for different cleaning purposes. Water-based cleaners are versatile, safe, and environmentally friendly, making them a popular choice for everyday cleaning tasks. Solvent cleaners, on the other hand, excel in removing tough contaminants, making them ideal for industrial and heavy-duty cleaning applications.

When selecting a cleaner, consider the specific cleaning needs, surface type, safety considerations, and environmental impact. It is ultimately up to you to decide which type of cleaner best suits your needs!


At Conro Electronics, we’ll show you how to improve product reliability while increasing performance and lowering costs. Our team of technical support specialists will provide your company with dependable global supply, unrivalled efficiency, and superior technical support.

Feel free to contact us on 0208 953 1211 or send us an email to

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