P2 Tech

Aqueous Cleaning
Technology Review

Released March 1996

View a summary of the aqueous cleaning technology review findings.


For the purpose of this review, aqueous cleaners are defined as those that typically are comprised of at least 95 percent water. Aqueous cleaning solutions can include surfactants and other additives, but are sometimes plain tap water or deionized water.

Processes used as part of an aqueous-cleaning system include sprayers, agitation, ultrasonic, and other physical processes that enhance cleaning effectiveness. Many aqueous-cleaning systems used in the manufacturing environment are multi-staged and include several of the processes mentioned. For the most part, as the required cleaning becomes more difficult, aqueous cleaning systems contain more additives and/or become more complex. (Ref. 1) The primary pollution prevention benefit of aqueous cleaners is that they are non-ozone-depleting, and carry few or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). A primary disadvantage of aqueous processes is that they generate wastewater streams, often which must be properly disposed of or treated prior to discharge. More background information on aqueous cleaning can be found in a number of sources. (Ref. 2-6)

dot Technical Issues and Aqueous Cleaning Systems
A comparison of the performance of aqueous-cleaners and solvent-cleaning systems, key factors in successful aqueous cleaning, and limitations of aqueous cleaning.

dot Aqueous Cleaning Economics
A summary of research that evaluates the costs associated with a conversion to aqueous cleaning.

dot Gaps in Existing Aqueous Cleaning Research
An analysis of areas that merit further study.

dot Summary of Aqueous Cleaning Technology Review Findings

dot Cleaning-related Projects in the Pollution Prevention Research Projects Database

dot Other Cleaning-related Internet Sites

dot Aqueous Cleaning Bibliography

© 1999, Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center
phone: 206-352-2050, e-mail: office@pprc.org, web: www.pprc.org