A Delhi-based consumer-interest organisation tested eight surface cleaners, in the price range of Rs 8.70-17.8 per 100ml, on parameters such as QAC content and pH levels. Here are the key findings and a roundup of the lab reports.
Traditionally, phenol was used for cleaning surfaces and disinfecting toilets and kitchens. Popular usage has shifted to using newer chemical formluations. These days disinfectant products using quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) as the active ingredient are most extensively used for cleaning of surfaces at homes and offices. They are frequently used for cleaning hard surfaces such as floors, laminated table tops, kitchen table tops and cabinets. While removal of dirt and stain is what is expected of these products, today we have various brands claiming to contain antibacterial /disinfecting agents, otherwise known as QACs. The advantages of QACs are good stability and toxicology, surface activity and compatibility with cleaner formulation ingredients, and lack of odour. These properties make it well suited for consumer products that combine cleaning with disinfection. Six of the eight popular brands sold at retail are based on QACs. These six include: Lizol, Clean Mate, Vow, Patanjali, Presto and Mopz. These six brands are sold at a price that varies from a low of Rs 8.70/100ml for Mopz(having offer of one extra bottle of 500 ml) to a high of Rs 17.8) for Lizol and Vow. The other brand Mr. Muscle (Rs 14.20/100ml) has non-ionic surfactant and benzalkonium chloride as active ingredients. While Unilever’s CIF has sodium salt of benzene sulphonic acid as the active ingredient and is the most expensive at Rs 39.60 in the market today.
These improvised products not only clean the surface superficially but also reduce the bio-burden (harmful bacteria) and help to keep the environment clean due to the effect of the antibacterial agents. Without getting caught up in the technicalities, Consumer Voice tested eight brands to find out some important things about the brands that claim to do the job more effectively. These eight brands were tested on attributes that determine their efficacy. Each attribute was given score and brands collected scores out of 100 after adding on each criteria test score. The main question was answered by awarding highest score out of 100 for each brand: Do these brands fulfill the basic requirements specified in the national standard?
Consumer voice bought these samples at retail and compared the eight brands on quality and acceptability parameters during testing in a lab. The test criteria included quaternary ammonium compound (QAC) content, cleaning properties, pH level, stability, non-volatile matter, odour and colour. Of the eight brands, six are QAC-based. The samples were tested as per specifications in Indian Standard 14364: 1996 (reaffirmed in 2013) related to quaternary ammonium compound-based surface cleaners. Consumer Voice followed the standard test methods at an NABL-accredited laboratory.
Lizol and Clean Mate each got the highest score of 91 out of 100 based on the testing. They were both adjudged as the top performers. Vow and Patanjali scored 90 out of 100 each stood at 2nd place. Patanjali was adjudged as “Value for Money” brand as its retail price is Rs 12.50 which is Rs 5.30 cheaper as compared to the top performer Lizol. Presto with 88/100 stood at third place followed by Mopz at 84/100. Mr. Muscle and CIF were not compared as they were strictly not comparable due to their difference in chemical composition.
QAC content in surface cleaner should be a minimum 0.40% as per standard.
All QAC-based brands had more than the minimum required amount of the compound.
As for the other types of surface cleaners, Mr. Muscle was found to have 0.16% QAC. CIF did not claim to have QAC.
The material, when applied either neat or diluted with water by means of a clean lint-free cloth or a cotton mop, will clean as described in the Indian Standard.
All brands were found to clean the surface effectively.
Determination of non-volatile matter or residue is an important qualitative test for products in which the presence of any residue may affect product quality and performance, or process efficiency. Non-volatile matter is the soluble, suspended, or particulate material remaining following evaporation of the volatile solvent that contains the material. For surface cleaners, this should be a minimum four per cent as per Indian Standard.
Clean mate and Lizol scored highest among the QAC based surface cleaners.
Non-volatile matter in all the QAC based brands was above the minimum requirement. In other types of brands it was 1.51% in Mr. Muscle and 45.32% in CIF.
This parameter shows if the product will remain effective during its life period.
All brands cleared the test.
The pH scale goes from 0 to 14, 7 being considered neutral. Anything below 7 is considered acidic and anything above 7 is considered alkaline. The pH value of a surface cleaner should be between 5 and 7. When chemicals are dissolved in water, the mixture’s pH level can become either acidic or alkaline. Alkaline solutions are better at cutting through dirt, grease, proteins, oils and other organic items. Acids are better for removing calcium, rust and other minerals.
All brands except Mr. Muscle were above the specified limit (5–7).
The material should be odourless or with a pleasant fragrance. All tested brands had acceptable odour and pleasant fragrance.
Top performers Lizol and Clean mate had a Pine fragrance. Patanjali claimed a refreshing fragrance while Vow and Mr. Muscle claimed a floral fragrance while lime/ lemon fragrance was claimed by CIF and Mopz. Presto claimed a citrus fragrance.
The material should be colourless or with a suitable colour. The product, when applied for cleaning and subsequent wiping out with wet mop, should not leave any colouration or stain on the floor or any other surface. On dilution with water as recommended, the colour should be faint to colourless.
All the brands were light-coloured.
Packing and marking
All the brands were packed in plastic bottles.
Patanjali did not feature both cautionary label and the ‘best before’ date.
The author is Managing Editor of Consumer Voice and former Dean and head of Commerce, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi
Disclaimer: This study was conducted independently by Consumer Voice