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Cleaning Chemicals and Cold Weather

What If My Chemicals Freeze?

Many SDS sheets warn not to let your cleaning chemicals freeze. But what if they do? Are they still ok to use? It’s going to depend on the product and you should contact the manufacturer or supplier to find out.

A lot of water-based cleaning products are ruined if they freeze. That’s because the freezing action destroys the chemical bond, and there’s no way to recreate that bond when it’s warmer. Other products may still work, but not as well, so you’ll have to use more than you normally would to get the desired results.

Also, products that are high in polymers – like your oil-based sealers, protective coatings and so on – will not work right once they’ve frozen. You will need to just throw these out as per the product label’s instructions and start over.

What if your chemicals are in a slushy, semi-frozen state? Don’t use them as is. They won’t clean like they are supposed to. That’s because different ingredients freeze at different temperatures, so some of the ingredients (possibly the active ingredients) may be frozen and not working correctly, while the others are still working like normal. You probably won’t get the results you’re wanting.

Some products will also separate in cold temperatures, even if it’s above freezing. If you see patterns or different shades of color in your solution, you need to warm it and mix it up before using.

Preventing Your Chemicals from Freezing

When temperatures are around freezing, it’s best to bring your chemicals into a heated area that’s at least 40 degrees.

If you are still using your chemicals for cleaning in cold trucks, they can freeze on your truck while you are driving, even if the temperature is above 32 due to the wind chill. You should protect them from the wind by putting them in a locked box, behind a wind screen, or placing insulation around the containers.

Using AntiFreeze When Cleaning Windows

When cleaning windows in freezing temperatures, most window cleaners will add winter washer fluid or methanol to their cleaning solution. How much should you add? It’s just depends. Temperature is one thing that dictates how quickly your solution freezes, but so does the sun, the wind, and how warm the glass is. The best answer is just to add enough that the water doesn’t freeze.