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Industrial Solvent-Based Cleaners vs. Water-Based/Semi Aqueous Cleaners

Industrial facilities require high-performance cleaners that deliver comprehensive and effective results. While these operations have traditionally used solvent-based cleaners, water-based & semi-aqueous cleaners have become more prevalent in recent years as facilities look to lessen their environmental impact, create a safer work environment, and make limited budgets go further.

What’s the Difference Between Solvent-Based & Water-Based Cleaners?

Industrial solvent-based cleaners and water-based cleaners are liquids that are used to clean or dissolve contaminants in facilities. Both types of industrial cleaners deliver excellent cleaning capabilities, but they have several key differences. The right choice for you will depend on your industry, applications, and types of contaminants/surfaces that require cleaning.

Solvent-based cleaners include harsh chemicals such as acetone, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), toluene, xylene, N-Methyl-Pyrrolidone (NMP),methylene chloride and others. They break the contaminant into smaller particles, lift it away from the surface/part, and solubilize it into the solvent, thus creating more hazardous waste. They work fast and evaporate quickly, requiring little effort after cleaning and making them the traditional industrial cleaners across most industries.

Water-based & Semi-aqueous cleaners have recently gained more popularity. Formulated with biodegradable wetting agents and surfactants, these products can be used at ambient or heated temperatures. Water-based cleaners react to scrub and lift contaminants and then solubilize them in water whether you’re wiping, spraying or submerging when cleaning. In addition, by filtering out contaminants from used material it allows for continued re-use. This cleaning process creates a safe working environment while using a non-hazardous cleaner.  Much safer than using traditional solvents.

Disadvantages of Traditional Solvent-Based Cleaners for Industrial Facilities

Solvent-based cleaners may be the traditional choice for industrial cleaning operations, but they come with a variety of risks, hazards, and disadvantages. These include:

  • Raised health risks for workers
  • Negative environmental impact
  • Expensive disposal methods
  • Highly flammable materials
  • Low rates of reusability
  • Use releases volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • And more!

How Water-Based Aqueous Cleaners Can Improve Your Operations

Industrial water-based cleaners are the ideal solution for most cleaning jobs. In addition to providing similar cleaning capabilities to their high-risk solvent-based counterparts, they add many advantages to your facility and overall day-to-day operations.

Lowers Risk for Safer Work Environments & Reduced Insurance Costs

Semi-aqueous and aqueous cleaners pose significantly less risk to workers than solvent-based cleaners. They generally cause less skin irritation, are non-VOC to avoid issues if accidentally inhaled, and are safe to handle with minimal training. By using non-hazardous water-based cleaners, you can save money on insurance premiums due to the lowered risk in your facilities.

Eco-Friendly Cleaning for a Smaller Footprint

Not only are industrial water-based cleaners better for your employees, but they are also better for the environment. Many of these eco-friendly cleaners, such as AcraStrip, were developed in tandem with the EPA to ensure all regulations are met or exceeded. They create non-hazardous waste and are completely biodegradable. Choosing water-based cleaners is a great way to reduce your footprint and commit to more sustainable business practices.

Slower Evaporation Rates Make Products Go Further

Due to their quick evaporation rate, many solvent-based cleaners are single-use and cannot be used for multiple cleaning cycles. Water-based cleaners are usually completely reusable and recyclable, providing excellent cleaning over repeated applications. Reusable aqueous cleaners make the most of your budget, allowing you to reuse product without compromising your cleaning results.

AcraStrip Industrial Water-Based Cleaners are Your Best Choice

AcraStrip industrial aqueous cleaners are the ideal alternative to solvent-based cleaners such as acetone, MEK, and others. We offer a variety of non-hazardous, environmentally friendly solvent substitutes to meet the needs of any facility, including:


Contact us or call 800-431-2072 today to learn more about how our water-based cleaners can deliver excellent results for industrial cleaning. Safety Data Sheets are available upon request.