Ultrasonic Blind Cleaning Chemicals - What should I use?

What chemistry do I need for ultrasonic blind cleaning?

As ultrasonic blind cleaning depends upon ultrasonics to do the primary cleaning, it logically stands to reason that one who uses cleaning chemistry specifically designed for that purpose will achieve the best results on the materials commonly found in blinds and shades.

  While it is true one may use a variety of cleaning agents in the wash tank of an ultrasonic machine, it won't alter principles of chemistry or the scientific properties that govern the cleaning process - regardless of one's own opinion with regard to prices, favorite brands or other notions.

  Briefly we'll review a few principles that one should consider in the selection of appropriate blind cleaning chemicals and their uses by professionally minded cleaners. In this article we share basic background information as an aid in making an informed purchasing decisions for business owners. Keep in mind as you make your decisions that "cheaper" is only better IF the quality, portioning and performance of the product make it a better value than a more expensive alternative. Similarly, as "custom chemical compounders" mix and make all of these potions from private lables, in some cases the only difference between two "brands" may be the name on the drum, box or bucket applied for that reseller. Comparable products (or the same product) may be offered at different prices depending upon the retailer's overhead or mark-up (charges incurred for shipping, handling and their profit margin).

Do I have to use "ultrasonic cleaning chemicals" or will just any general purpose cleaner work just as well?  While we have talked to blind cleaners who for years have used products like Simple Green, Basic H or other mild all purpose cleaners in their machines it stands to reason that a chemistry designed to work in harmony with the unique properties of ultrasonics will do a better job than one that isn't. You can paint the side of your house with any type of paint you like, however those who use the right types of paint for the surface and application will see far better results both in the short term and in the long term. Whether or not the difference is a better value (or acceptable to your situation) is a personal choice.

What types of chemicals should you have for ultrasonic blind cleaning?

Water Conditioner/Softening Agents:

If the detergent gets bound up with reactions with minerals in the water it decreases its abilty to effectively do its job connecting to the dirt you intended for it to attack.  More detergents need to be used to produce sufficient warriors for taking out the dirt instead of building scum if harder water is an issue - not to mention the problems caused by mineral deposits reacting on the surfaces of drying blinds to leave spots, rings or residues in fabrics.

   If the hardness of the water is not known one may purchase water test kits or special paper test strips to perform a quick test from a pool supply company or similar vendor. 

   Some cleaning agents come with a certain capacity for adjusting the water's hardness.  These "conditioners" may work up to a certain point ( such as anything less than 12 grains etc.), leaving it up to the consumer to supply any additional water softening or conditioning necessary to bring the water used within range of the detergent's capabilities. You can't solve a mineral problem or soften water simply by adding more soap.

   One can purchase water conditioners or water softening chemicals to be used when it is necessary to improve the quality of the water for effective cleaning.  Perform a hardness test and then add the amount of softening agents recommended to condition water that hard of that volume. Then add the actual cleaning chemicals.

   Using a water softener in your shop or mobile unit is usually much less expensive and often more practical than using conditioning chemistry.  If you have some conditioning agents handy you can always deal with minerals in the water if one finds themselves in a location where the water supply isn't ideal for spot free cleaning.


Primary Ultrasonic Blind Cleaning Agent:  

For general cleaning hard and soft blinds (fauxs, minis, fabrics etc.) you'll want to have a basic all around cleaner that is safe to use on the types of materials you are cleaning.  While a low sudsing mild detergent will work, it won't be as effective or clean as efficiently as one formulated specifically with the unique properties of the ultrasonic environment. For instance, using a laundry soap designed for washing cloths adds too much of some things to the water that interfere with the action of the ultrasonics and leave the water to "wet" (more "screeching" may be notices on some machines) and other substances that affect colors, leave residues or excess optical brightners that may cause problems in some situations.

   Powdered ultrasonic blind cleaning compounds typically contain agents to help degass the water, condition the water (up to a point) and encourage the maximum number of cavitation nuclei in the ultrasonicly activated solution without excessive sudsing. Powdered soaps may also be more condensed than liquid versions (check the amount needed per tank to make comparisons) though various brands may also have varying amounts of "fillers" and recommended concentrations. Storing powered soaps in air tight containers is crucial to keeping them from clumping up (as they will attract moisture from the air and go bad if left open to the environment).

 Examples: MultiBrite, ComCo Ultrasonic Cleaner, (SMART Blind Cleaning Chemicals - as of 1/21/2020 no longer available)

Liquid ultrasonic blind cleaning solutions are more easily mixed into the water and are easy to measure and use.  They typically don't have degassing agents in them, so the degassing phase prior to cleaning may take a few more minutes.  As the liquid soaps can only be condensed to a certain point without separating, the proper amount to use depends upon their concentration.

With liquid soaps one ends up paying for water to some degree, however as we've mentioned the powders also contain fillers too, but one must do the math based on concentrations to see which may be the best value. 

 Examples:  MultiBrite, Morantz or Dirtyblinds Ultrasonic Cleaners, OmegaClean   

  "Boosters" for Dirtier Jobs:

When cleaning blinds or shades that need the action of something strong to remove more than just everyday just off them then adding another cleaner to boost the power of your cleaning solution is recommended.  Whether you are adding just a few ounces or quite a bit more depends upon the specifics of what is being cleaned or how dirty it is.  Remember with caked on soils pre-soaking or pre-brushing may be appropriate options as leaving blinds in the tank for long periods of time hoping the ultrasonics will do all the work can lead to other issues (from cavitation erosion of paints or finishes to glue line failures in fabric blinds). Adding another cleaning agent such as a citrus based product will add extra cleaning power when needed. Before adding any additional chemicals to your basic cleaner, keep in mind however what other things you may be cleaning and arrange your order of cleaning to avoid contamination or damage to more sensitive products or materials (sensitive paint finishes, fabric tapes, some dyes etc.) that can be caused by many stronger cleaners.

 Examples: CitraBrite 

Degreaser for Grungy Jobs:

When cleaning fabrics or plastics that are greasy one may wish to boost the cleaning power with a degreaser.  The equations of how much is appropriate depends upon the concentration of the degreaser being used, the materials being cleaned and other factors.  As a rule of thumb, less is always better than more as one can't put the paint back on a ruined blind or shade whose color has been removed.  Obviously when cleaning faux wood blinds, white honeycomb shades or sheers the use a degreaser in the cleaning mix may be helpful.  Often in the shop it is easier to have solutions of degreasers mixed in spray bottles for use at your scrub wall, for doing cords or for spot cleaning or brushing rather than just adding them to the cleaning tank.  A bottle with a milder solution of 2-4 ounces per quart may remove general spots or grunge and the bottle with a heavier concentration of 4-6 ounces per quart will remove the top layer of oxidized paint or heavy spots when removal of color isn't a concern for instance.

 Examples: Booster, Degreaser

Rinse Agent for Better Rinsing and Drying:

When cleaning "hard blinds" it is beneficial to add rinse agents that contain surfactants that cause water to shed easily off the blind and hence minimizing spotting from water droplets.  Also be aware that some rinse agents are also more sensitive to the temperature of the rinse water than others (must be used in warmer but not hot water etc.). Adding a few ounces of a rinse agent to the rinse tank helps speed up the drying process and improve the outcome as the water sheds off the items better.

 Example: Rinse Agent(s)


Spotting Agents and other Chemistry:

Along with your basic array of cleaners that you may use in the ultrasonic cleaning tank there are a number of other specialized cleaning agents that are helpful to have on hand for addressing certain kinds of spots or stains. Without digressing into a full blown lesson on spotting we will just mention a few of them.

Tannin Spotter:

Simply put, this type of spotter is formulated to remove plant based stains.

Protein Spotter:

This type of spotter is designed to remove protein stains such as blood, egg or other protein based stains.

POG - Paint/Oil/Grease  Spotter:

These spotters break down oils, grease and paints.

Specialized spotters for paint, ink or other specific types of stains will often work better than general spotters.  Finding the right product for your needs or a range of products to allow you to handle the types of spots you come across



This article was written at the "introductory" level for those new to ultrasonic blind cleaning or seeking information without all the technical jargon that (while very important to making the chemistry what it is) complicates the story line for those who are just looking for a straightforward explanation or answer.  For more technical readings on the topic there are other articles on our site or a deeper discussion in our training class when we discuss this topic. 


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