All in one or two pass cleaning for house washing?

This is the second part of the discussion I started last week.

Historically house washes where single step chemical washes made just to try and clean the surface with no other properties being asked for. But now more and more of the industry and customers are wanting more from a house wash. Yes they want clean, but they want mold killing, UV protection, and a shinny appearance of their vinyl siding homes.

As I have stated before most cleaners are alkaline since we live in an acid world but it goes even further than that. Now for a little more of a chemistry lesson here.  High Pressure soap formulations are primarily an anionic (negative) soap. Most of the soils on houses are also anionic in nature so the soap can clean off the dirt (Chemistry 101 says “like dissolves like”).  Un-likes, such as oil and water that repel or can never mix. Once rinsed, the cleaned surface of the exterior will remain slightly anionic.  High Pressure wax formulations are mostly cationic (positive) formulations that are attracted to the anionic cleaned surface of a cleaned house. Just like soil and dirt that are cationic and are also attracted to the just cleaned surface. So should your soap also contain waxes to help prevent this attraction?

Dirty Little Secrets

All in One formulations must contain both soaps and modified waxes to clean and protect the exterior of houses at the same time.  The difficulty comes in two areas:  first, the combination of both anionic and cationic ingredients in an All in one solution tend to bind with each other, reducing both effectiveness of the soap and the wax.  Second, the wax needs to be attracted by the clean surface and is hampered by the soap which is in higher concentrations (typically) than the wax.  An all in one formulation is a compromise usually shifted to cleaning, not protecting.  Some products enhance the wax and reduce the soap ingredients in an attempt to add better protection.  This all adds up to a compromise of properties in All in One formulations.

Example: Wax in Car Washes

You drive through the Car Wash Tunnel and have paid for the Three color wash and wax.  At the end of the tunnel, three streams of different colored foamy substance are squirted on your car just prior to the last rinse.  Magically the last rinse runs off the car and quickly!  You have experienced the Automatic Car Wash “cheater wax” which is not a wax at all.  Worse, weather you pay for the wax or not you will receive a stream of “cheater wax” (most likely in the final rinse) because, as you have seen, it makes the final rinse water run off the car surface quickly, enabling the blowers to more effectively dry the car.  You may get more of this product (or not) when you pay for it.  This product is an emulsion of a solvent and a quaternary ammonium compound (a cousin of your hair cream rinse active ingredient).  It’s attracted to the painted surface of your cleaned car (anionic) and puts a small amount of modified fat on the surface.  Don’t worry, it will not harm your paint job, and lasts at least until the next time the car gets wet.

Two Steps: Use Soap to clean, Wax to protect

Sometimes the compromise between soap and wax can be managed to yield an acceptable result, cleaning the exterior and delivering protection to the surface.  Generally, the results are better with TWO separate steps, using different formulations requiring two passes around the exterior of the house being cleaned. The Wash has no competition in the formulation, and has more than enough soap to clean. The Wax Spray will be attracted to the exterior surface that was just cleaned and will cover more completely. Properly formulated water based Waxes provide better protection of the exteriors and can even repel anionic dust and grime over time, plus be easier to clean the next time.

So shouldn’t you also try and get the better results and do each step one at a time? That is for you, your businesses profitability and your customers to decide.