Welcome to our FAQ & Glossary of Terms section. Select a question below to see the answer.
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General Questions

Technical specification and SDS sheets can be found on the product pages or you can type the product name into the search bar.

  • A cleaner will remove soils from a surface.
  • A sanitizer uses chemicals to remove bacteria.
  • A disinfectant will kill and remove all forms of life and biological agents from an object or surface.

A neutral cleaner can be used on all water-resistant surfaces, typically with a pH range of 7-9. This makes it well suited for cleaning polished floors, as well as painted surfaces, PVC, linoleum, and floors.

These are compounds that lower the surface tension between two liquids or between a liquid and a solid. Surfactants may act as detergents, wetting agents, emulsifiers, and foaming agents.

A quat is the common name for quaternary ammonium chloride compounds of which there are about 300 varieties, all with varying anti-microbial efficacies.

  • Bleach, while inexpensive, has no cleaning agents in it, and dulls floor tiles, damages floor finishes and grout, and dissipates quickly. It will corrode, or even destroy, most metals, and reacts with many chemicals resulting in toxic chlorine gas. It will bleach most fabrics. Bleach dissolves paper, cloth, and several other organic materials. Despite the fact that the household strength bleach is only 5%, it is still a potent oxidizer and disinfectant with a very high alkalinity. Even diluted, caution must be used when dealing with bleach, since the fumes can cause severe irritation to the respiratory system and skin contact can result in mild irritation to burns. Prolonged eye contact can cause permanent damage. It can be very dangerous if mixed with certain chemicals or cleaners.
  • Quats are low in toxicity and corrosivity, which makes them user friendly and simple. The wide spectrum of germ killing ability, film forming residual, low toxicity and corrosivity, gives a quat the advantage.

Pros of a Quat:

  1. It is easy to use
  2. Has a good shelf life
  3. Is highly concentrated
  4. Has no odor
  5. Has a variety of pH ranges
  6. Is safe on mostly all surfaces

Quats have many formulations, meaning some do not dull floor finish. A quat will not change the taste or odor of food, so it can be used in food service areas. Most hospitals and health institutions choose to use a quat as their disinfectant.

Under the resources tab you will find a link to our helpful Floor Finish Decision Chart.

Under the Disinfectant product category, we have a “Filter by Organisms” search box. This will help you find disinfectants that will kill specific germs. You can filter your disinfectant search by several helpful properties on this page as well, such as EPA Registered, pH range, and recommended dilution.

The Environmental Choice, or EcoLogo, helps you identify products and services that have been independently certified to meet strict environmental standards that reflect their entire life cycle – from manufacturing to disposal. Though most of our Elements products are Ecologo Certified, there is a way to find more products. When looking for EcoLogo, select the product category you’re looking for and on the left side there will be a filter for EcoLogo products.

This means that UL has tested samples of a product and determined that the product meets specific, defined requirements. These requirements are often based on UL’s published and nationally recognized Standards for Safety. To find UL Certified products, select a product category and search for UL Certified products on the drop-down menu on the left of the page.

Most of our products are designed to survive at least one, and some even three, freeze thaw cycles and will work without any issues. Be sure to let the chemical completely thaw out before using it. Once thawed, shake the container a few times to remove any separation.

GHS, the Globally Harmonized System, is a global approach to the classification of hazardous chemicals and the communication of hazards to workers via labels and safety data sheets that affects both the HazCom Standard and WHMIS. All Misco products are GHS compliant. 

Glossary of Terms

Abrasive: Something used in products, like polishes, cleaner, or hand cleaners. They are gritty additions, which means that they allow for an increase of scrubbing and scouring ability in products.

Antibacterial: A substance able to kill or slow the growth of bacteria. Antibacterial formulas are not effective against viruses.

Alkali Soluble Polymer: A polymer that can create a see-through solution if dissolved in water and ammonia.

Buffing: The act of polishing a surface with a pad or a brush.

Burnishing: A method of maintenance that typically refers to using a machine with a high RPM to buff and polish a floor through friction.

Cleanser: Can be wither a liquid or powdered cleaning products with ingredients including surfactants, bleach, and abrasives.

Cleaning: The process of locating, identifying, containing, removing and properly disposing of unwanted substances from a surface or area. Cleaning usually involves soap or a cleaning formula and requires some form of agitation, such as hand rubbing or a sponge. Cleaning removes — but does not kill — microorganisms.

Concentrate: This is the pure form of the product, and can be thinned with the addition of water.  See Dilution Ratio for more information.

Corrosive: A substance that is gaseous, liquid, or solid and can irritate, burn, or destroy a certain type of material.

Damp Mopping: A method of cleaning that uses a wet mop that has been dampened with a cleaning solution or water to eliminate light soiling from floors and other surfaces.

Decontamination: The reduction or removal of microorganisms or dangerous substances, including biohazardous material and infectious viruses, by physical means, such as cleaning and disinfecting and/or sterilization, or using chemical neutralization methods.

Deep Cleaning: The term has no standard definition. However, cleaning companies often use the term to mean specific services or actions, such as disinfecting using an electrostatic sprayer or chemical; they may also use it to refer to more intense cleaning, such as “deep cleaning” a carpet.

Dilution Ratio:  The rate at which a liquid mixture reaches optimum level for use. This is typically a water or solvent, used to thin concentrated liquid. See Concentrate for more information.

Disinfect: To kill 99.999 percent of the pathogens the disinfectant’s label says it is effective in killing. Disinfectants kill viruses, but only those listed on the label. Cleaning should proceed all disinfecting, and all disinfectants must remain on the surface for the full recommended dwell time.

Dust Mopping: This method of maintenance is used to eliminate dust from surfaces with the use of a dry mop.

Dwell Time: The time a disinfectant must remain in contact with a surface for it to disinfect. Some disinfectants have a dwell time of one minute or less; most have a dwell time of four to 10 minutes.

Enzyme: Any various complex organic substances originating from living microorganisms, and capable of producing certain chemical changes in organic substances by catalytic action. Enzymes are the chemical catalyst of living cells. With an enzyme, chemical reactions go much faster than they would without the enzyme.

Film: A thin coating on a surface that protect from outside sources.

Emulsifier: A type of chemical agent that is used to suspend incompatible materials from other material.

Emulsion: A type of stable combination of water, and water insoluble items that are divided through one or more surface-active agents.

Encapsulation: A process in which a compound is surrounded for a permanent, controlled, or time-released method of dispensing.

Floor Sealer: A type of coating that is applied directly to a surface before a floor finish is applied. Floor sealers are designed to promote higher levels of adhesion to the floor that has finish on it. Less coats are necessary because less product is absorbed in the floor and thus results in a more uniform appearance.

Germicide: Any substance used to kill germs. Typically, a disinfectant.

High Solids: A floor finish that has a non-volatile content of 20% or higher. This differs from concentrated high solids which are typically used without needing to be diluted.

O.S.H.A./OSHA: The Occupation Safety and Health Act is a federal act intended to offer safe working conditions.

SDS: Safety Date Sheet, a form required by law to list hazardous ingredients for companies who distribute and sell these types of chemical products. Every product has an SDS, to find a specific one, see “Where can I find an SDS?” above.

pH: This measurement is used to express the degree of acidity, or alkalinity of a chemical. A pH of 1 is considered extremely acidic, while 14 is considered highly alkaline. The pH scale runs from less than 1.0 to 14. Neutral products usually have a pH of 7.

Polymer: A chemical compound composed of small, similar, parts that are linked together chemically.

Resin: Found in emulsion finishes and sealers, these materials contribute to the overall gloss and leveling of the film.

Sealer: A specialized type of formulation designed to quickly fill in porous floors while providing protection and prevent excessive absorption of the coats of floor finish.

Sanitize: To reduce (not kill) microorganisms by 99.9 percent — the level deemed safe for humans by the Environmental Protection Agency — in 30 seconds or less (99.999 percent in 30 seconds or less in food service settings). Sanitizers cannot kill viruses or fungi and should be used against the specific pathogen(s) stated on the label. Recently, many entities also refer to “sanitizing” as using a disinfectant but not allowing it the full dwell time needed to disinfect.

Shelf Life: Refers to the amount of time between when the product was manufactured and when it will no longer be useful.

Slip Resistance: The noticeable drag when walking on a floor that results in safer footing. Known as the amount of resistance to slipping, usually in reference to the sole of heel of a show on a floor.

Solubility: A material that can dissolve into a different material.

Solvent: A type of liquid that dissolves with a material to then form a solution. This can also refer to any liquid that can dissolve into a substance.

Spray Buff: The act of renewing, retouching, or maintaining a floor by spraying spray buff product followed by machine buffing. This is used to deliver a glossy film, with the use of a floor buffer and buffing pads.

Stability: The ability to resist change in physical or performance properties due to time or environmental stresses, like freezing, thawing, heat, or microbial attack.

Stripper: A product used to eliminate a coating from most floor film finishes.

Surfactant: A general term given to the type of active surface agents used in cleaners. This reduces the overall surface tension all while providing improved dispersing properties, emulsifying, wetting, and penetrating.

Top Coating: A maintenance procedure that is used when applying additional coats to a floor’s finish.

Top Scrubbing: The process of removing the top coats of floor finish without having to strip all coats. This is typically in preparation for application of additional coats of finish.