Safe & Effective
Metal Cleaning

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Most metal cleaners are relatively safe to use, and have only a small impact on the environment. However, some cleaners contain chemicals that are harmful. Use the mildest product you can find, and always wear gloves and goggles to protect yourself.


Use a mild cleaner for daily metal polishing.

Avoid metal cleaning products that are flammable.

Use products that are packaged in a trigger bottle rather than an aerosol can.

Some degreasing cleaners contain toxic ingredients - always protect yourself by wearing gloves and goggles.

Regular Metal Cleaning - Use a mild cleaning product for daily maintenance.

Disinfection - If you need to disinfect the surface, use a product that contains Alkyl Ammonium Chloride to kill germs.

Grease Removal - Sometimes grease, fingerprints, or other oily deposits are found on the metal you are cleaning. Your regular daily cleaner might not remove these.

In that case, use a stronger degreasing cleaner with butoxyethanol or a similar ingredient. Spray this degreaser onto your rag or brush, and then wipe the metal surface. If that doesn’t work, then carefully spray the degreaser directly onto the metal, while holding your rag nearby to prevent overspray. Let the degreaser sit on the metal briefly, and then wipe it up. Afterwards, you may need to finish the job by using your regular cleaner to remove streaks left by the degreaser.

Degreasers with butoxyethanol and other toxic ingredients can harm you, so always protect yourself with gloves and goggles. In addition, take care to keep metal degreaser liquids out of the sewer system (for example, when cleaning sinks or drinking fountains.

Do not use degreasers that contain flammable ingredients such as naphtha or hexane, or cancer-causing chemicals such as tetrachloroethylene.

Janitorial Products Pollution Prevention Project - Sponsored by US EPA, State of California, Santa Clara County, the City of Richmond, and the Local Government Commission. Written by Thomas Barron, Carol Berg, and Linda Bookman. 6/99.