Water-Based Vs. Solvent-based Cleaners: Which One Should You Buy?

September 30, 2021

Water-Based Vs. Solvent-based Cleaners: Which One Should You Buy?

There are two main types of cleaners, water-based and solvent-based. The main difference between the two is that one has water as the main ingredient, and the other has oil or petroleum. However, there is a debate going on about which one is better.

Both cleaners have different applications as well as physical and chemical properties that make them suitable for their uses. Each industrial organization requires different cleaners depending on their requirements. Both solvent-based and water-based cleaners have their advantages and drawbacks and are used for several applications. This blog post mentions the differences between solvent and aqueous cleaners and helps you determine which one might be better for you.

Solvent Cleaner

Solvents work by dissolving oil. They break down the oil into smaller particles and carry them into the solution. Solvent cleaners have high cleaning capacity that make them suitable for several industrial applications. There are many types of solvent cleaners, with the most common being halogenated, hydrocarbon, and oxygenated.

Solvent-based cleaners are becoming popular for industrial cleaning because of their better cleaning efficiency. Such solvent cleaners remove thick oil, dirt, solder flux, and grease in no time. They are available in mild and strong types. You can choose their potency depending on the level of cleanliness you require.

Water-based Cleaners

Water-based cleaners are aqueous cleaners with the ability to eliminate oil and dissolving contaminants. They can chemically react with these pollutants, making them increasingly dissolvable in water. As the name suggests, water-based cleaners use water as their primary solvent.

In addition to water, they include detergents, pH modifiers, builders, chelating agents, and various other compounds. The purpose of adding a large range of other components in the cleaner is to enhance their cleaning properties, making them more suitable for a wide number of applications.

The Difference Between Solvent And Water Cleaners

Mild solvents include mild chemicals such as isopropyl alcohol and glycerin. Stronger solvents include chemicals such as acetone and toluene. Similarly, water cleaners also have different compositions. Some other differences between the two are:

Surface Tension

There is a difference in the surface tension between these two types of cleaners. Cleaners with lower surface tension have a better ability to penetrate the surface instead of beading up. Solvent cleaners have less surface tension than water ones and tend to be more suitable for many industrial applications. This also helps them to clean tight and closed areas where cleaning is needed.

Rate Of Evaporation

The rate of evaporation of the two types of cleaners are also different. Solvents evaporate much faster than water-based cleaners. Water-based cleaners can be used for cold or hot soak application, while solvent cleaners have added chemicals that reduce the evaporation rate. This gives it more time to effectively clean and dissolve contaminants.


Both solvent-based and water-based cleaners are non-flammable. They are formulated to reduce inflammation so that you can use them without any worry. However, if there are flammable cleaners, you need to take special care while using them.

Which One Is Better?

Both cleaners are suitable for a variety of different applications and operations. Each of them has its own physical and chemical properties, making them ideal for the machine at hand. Which cleaner is best will also depend on the process’s requirements and other details.

About Sunrise Industrial Cleaners

Sunrise Industrial Cleaners manufacture a wide variety of industrial cleaners suitable for your numerous applications. We are an Edmonton based company and offer a wide range of powdered and liquid cleaners. If you want any guidance regarding cleaners and other similar products, feel free to contact us.

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We take pride in providing our customers with premium industrial cleaning products at affordable rates!

(780) 465-0788