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Expanded Frequently Asked Questions

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

The following items are listed in alphabetical order by their key word. For example: If your question is, "Can I mix Simple Green with bleach?" you'll find it listed under Bleach. If you have a question that is not addressed here, please contact us via e-mail or phone at 800-YEL-DAWG(935-3294).

Agitation Required for Water-Based Cleaners
Some form of agitation is required when using an aqueous-based cleaner. Agitation can be accomplished through re-circulation, spraying, scrubbing by hand and use of mechanical equipment.

Aircraft Cleaning with Simple Green or Crystal Simple Green
Many private and commercial aircraft owners and operators have cleaned their craft with All-Purpose Simple Green or Crystal Simple Green for many years. However, these products do not have Mil-Prf (military testing) authority. The testing involves very long (168 hours in one test) soaking of various metals in the solution and then a corrosion inspection. If an aircraft owner only wants to use mil-prf approved products; he will not want to use Simple Green. Please see the additional information under "Aluminum".

Alkaline Aqueous Solutions - General Description
Alkaline aqueous solutions are water-based mixtures with pH greater than 8. Most alkaline cleaners range from pH 10 to 14. Simple Green is an aqueous-based cleaner with a pH of 9.3 to 9.5. Alkaline aqueous solutions are the most common solutions in aqueous cleaning. Alkaline cleaners often contain additives to improve cleaning, such as sequestering agents, emulsifiers and surfactants. Rust inhibitors may be necessary with some metals, especially aluminum.

Alkaline aqueous solutions remove greases, coolants, cutting oils, shop dirt, fingerprints, cosmolene, petrolatum and some water-soluble paints. Parts cleaned with alkaline cleaners include hydraulic valve bodies, fuel injector components and machined aluminum castings. Alkaline solutions are used with all types of liquid processes, e.g., sprays, ultrasonic, immersion and power washers. These solutions can clean to very high levels of cleanliness with good filtration and rinsing. Cost per gallon is generally less than for semi-aqueous cleaners.

One should never assume that aqueous solutions can be disposed of down the drain. Your local water treatment authority or publicly owned treatment works (POTW) will have information on treatment and disposal of these cleaners. Adjustment of pH and dilution are usually required before disposal to a drain.

Also see "High-Alkaline Water-Based".

Aluminum - Is it safe to use Simple Green on aluminum?
Simple Green products have been successfully and safely used on aircraft, automotive, industrial and consumer aluminum items for over 20 years. However, caution and common sense must be used: Aluminum is a soft metal that easily corrodes with unprotected exposure to water. The aqueous-base and alkalinity of Simple Green or Crystal Simple Green can accelerate the corrosion process. Therefore, contact times of All-Purpose Simple Green and Crystal Simple Green with unprotected or unpainted aluminum surfaces should be kept as brief as the job will allow - never for more than 10 minutes. Large cleaning jobs should be conducted in smaller-area stages to achieve lower contact time. Rinsing after cleaning should always be extremely thorough - paying special attention to flush out cracks and crevices to remove all Simple Green/Crystal Simple Green residues. Unfinished, uncoated or unpainted aluminum cleaned with Simple Green products should receive some sort of protectant after cleaning to prevent oxidation.

Ammonia - Can I mix Simple Green with ammonia?
No. We don't recommend mixing ammonia with Simple Green because mixing will detract from the cleaning ability of Simple Green and from the disinfecting, whitening, or cleaning abilities of bleach or ammonia. You will achieve better cleaning results if Simple Green is used separately from ammonia. Additionally, although there is no bleach or ammonia in Simple Green, should you accidentally mix a bleach product (chlorinated product) with an ammonia product (ammoniated product), toxic fumes can result that could cause serious, even fatal, health risks. Therefore, our recommendation is that you never mix household chemicals.

Animal Testing - Does Simple Green test on animals?
Sunshine Makers, Inc., the maker of Simple Green, does not currently test on animals. Previous toxicity testing (done in the early 1980's) was conducted on animals per government requirements at the time (Occupational Safety and Health Standards, Subpart Z, Toxic and Hazardous Substances Hazard Communication Standard Section 1910.1200 issued under 5 U.S.C. 553). Simple Green is more than just a household cleaner; it is used extensively in the industrial and commercial marketplace. The OSHA Toxic and Hazardous Substances Act is designed to protect workers from exposure to hazardous substances. Because the non-toxicity of Simple Green was determined, we no longer test on animals.

Simple Green has been used all over the world to save the lives of birds and animals caught in oil spills and chemical lagoons, because it enables them to be cleaned and then returned to the wild with no ill effects. Simple Green has also been used to maintain safe and clean environments for animals, fish and birds that are temporary guests of veterinary clinics and wildlife rehabilitation centers (such as The World Bird Sanctuary, The Marine Mammal Stranding Center, and the Dolphin Rescue Center) as well as for those animals that are permanent residents of zoos, aviaries, and aquatic centers (The National Zoo, Shedd Aquarium, Wellington Zoo, and Monterey Bay Aquarium are a few examples.) We hope that you will take this into consideration when making your evaluation.

Until such time as government agencies stop requiring animal tests in order to prove that products are safe for the workplace, or science comes up with affordable, accurate tests to determine toxicity, irritancy, carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, and other hazard classifications that do not involve animal tests, this conflict will exist.

Biodegradable - What is the definition of biodegradable?
"Biodegradable" is the property of being acted on by the flora and fauna of the environment in such a way as to degrade (break down) or transform a complex item into simpler components or substances. Biodegradability is associated with the use of an item as a nutrient source by some organism within the environment. The following is one method used to determine whether a substance can be used as a carbon source by soil or aquatic microflora (microscopic plant organisms):

Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) = The amount of dissolved oxygen consumed by the biological process of breaking down organic matter.

Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) = The measure of the total amount of oxygen required to oxidize a substance versus the Biochemical Oxygen Demand.

If the BOD is similar to, or a significant percentage of, the COD (typically expressed as 60% or more within a 28 day period), then it can be stated that the substance is used efficiently as a fuel source and is biodegradable according to strict definition.

Simple Green produced a BOD of 70% of the COD after 11 days. Simple Green is readily biodegradable under a strict and rigorous definition.

Biodegradable - Is Simple Green biodegradable?
Yes. Simple Green is readily decomposed by naturally occurring microorganisms. Simple Green is biodegradable and meets the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommendations for ready biodegradability. The Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD), as a percentage of the Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), after 4, 7, and 11 days was 56%, 60%, and 70% respectively for Simple Green.

Bleach - Can I mix Simple Green with bleach?
No. We don't recommend mixing bleach with Simple Green because mixing will detract from the cleaning ability of Simple Green and from the disinfecting, whitening, or cleaning abilities of bleach. You will achieve better cleaning results if Simple Green is used separately from bleach. Additionally, although there is no bleach or ammonia in Simple Green, should you accidentally mix a bleach product (chlorinated product) with an ammonia product (ammoniated product), toxic fumes can result that could cause serious, even fatal, health risks. Therefore, our recommendation is that you never mix household chemicals.

Carbon remover
Simple Green is an excellent carbon remover.

Chelation - Able to remove lead dust
Simple Green contains agents that act as chelators, compounds capable of forming multiple chemical bonds to a metal ion. This makes Simple Green effective for decontamination, including the removal of lead dust on old painted surfaces.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
The Montreal Protocol and the U.S. Clean Air Act Sections 602 and 611, and various international agreements outline the reduction in use and the ultimate elimination of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), halons and other ozone depleting chemicals. Simple Green contains no ozone depleting substances (See Montreal Protocol, U.S. Clean Air Act and Ozone Depleting).

Citrus - Does Simple Green contain any citrus products?
There are no citrus products in Simple Green products. For more information, please see "Citrus extracts."

Citrus extracts - What are the citrus extracts commonly found in other cleaning products?
Some of the cleaners called "natural" contain citrus extracts. Citrus extracts found in cleaners are typically either d-Limonene, or some form of terpene. Terpenes are the oils from citrus rind. The terpenes created in nature may be effective on greases, oils and some adhesives, but most are quite flammable. The d-Limonene ingredient is on a list of suspected carcinogens. More information about d-Limonene can be found on the National Institutes of Health web site, using their Search window at the top of their home page.

Claims - How do I know that Simple Green's claims are true?
Sunshine Makers, Inc., the makers of Simple Green, has committed over $3 million in research and testing by independent laboratories. The results verify the non-toxicity and efficacy claims of Simple Green. Summaries of these tests are available on the Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner Material Safety Data Sheet.

Color change - turned from green to clear
Color change is due to long exposure to sunlight and should not affect its cleaning ability.

Color separation (green on top and clear on bottom)
Simple Green may separate at below freezing temperatures because it is a water-based product. After it has thawed, it can still be used without damage to product by shaking or stirring to re-mix the components that have separated..

Cost effectiveness of Simple Green
Most cleaning jobs are effectively performed at the general cleaning dilution ratio of 10-30 parts water to one part of Simple Green -- some at even greater dilutions when heat, spray and agitation are added, making the product extremely economical.

You can also refer to our Cleaning Tips under our All-Purpose Cleaner in the Household Products section.

Crystal Simple Green
For more information, please refer to our Crystal Simple Green Cleaner page in the Industrial Products section.

Decontamination
Simple Green contains emulsifiers and chelators, which make it an ideal cleaner for decontamination, especially with its exceptional rinsing properties.

Detergent - Definition
A product designed to render, for example, oils and greases soluble in water, usually made from synthetic surfactants.

Dilution Ratios - How to measure 10:1, 30:1, 50:1, and 150:1

10:1 Add 10 parts water to 1 part Simple Green -- 1 oz. SG (1/8 cup) to 1 cup of water

30:1 Add 30 parts water to 1 part Simple Green -- 1 oz. SG to 1 quart of water

50:1 Add 50 parts water to 1 part Simple Green -- 1 oz. SG to 6 cups of water

150:1 Add 150 parts water to 1 part Simple Green -- 1 oz. SG to 1 gallon plus 2 cups of water

A tip for mixing 150:1 is that you only need 1 teaspoon of Simple Green to 24 ounces of water.

You can also refer to our Cleaning Tips under our All-Purpose Cleaner in the Household Products section.

For a complete list of uses and the different dilution ratios for each use, please download our Household Applications/Dilution Ratio Chart or our Industrial Applications/Dilution Ratio Chart. Downloading or reading these charts requires Adobe Acrobat Reader. Or call 800-YEL-DAWG(935-3294) and request a free "Dilution Chart."

Dilutions - Why are the ratios given in parts?
The dilution ratios are given in parts and not exact measurements because: (1) it allows for larger industrial uses; and (2) Simple Green is an international product and this allows for the use of the metric system.

For a complete list of uses and the different dilution ratios for each use, please download our Household Applications/Dilution Ratio Chart or our Industrial Applications/Dilution Ratio Chart. Downloading or reading these charts requires Adobe Acrobat Reader. Or call 800-YEL-DAWG(935-3294) and request a free "Dilution Chart."

Disinfectant - Is Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner a disinfectant?
No. Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner is non-toxic and is not able to kill germs.

Disposal - Public Owned Treatment Works (POTW)
Simple Green is sewer disposable, however, the contaminant emulsified in the Simple Green/water solution may not be. Check with your local POTW before disposing effluent into drains.

Disposal - Can Simple Green products be disposed of in a storm drain?
No. The Clean Water Act of 1995 protects surface and ground water quality by forbidding any foreign material from being put down storm drains. Do not dispose of degreasing rinseates into or near storm drains.

(Cleaning Tip: For home vehicle washing or exterior home cleaning, allow the used Simple Green/water mixture to fall onto the ground or grass. When done cleaning, "water-in" any standing puddles of Simple Green. The non-toxic formula won't harm grass, plants, shrubs or trees ~ and the natural bacteria in the soil will consume the hydrocarbons [grease & oils] that come off in the rinse.)

d-Limonene - What is it? Is it safe?
For definitive scientific information about this citrus product, please visit the web site for the National Institutes of Health, and type "d-Limonene" in their Search feature.

Electrolysis - as it relates to use of Simple Green or other water-based cleaners
Electrolysis is the transfer of metal ions from one type of metal to another. Electrolysis needs a medium through which these ions can travel, and water is a good medium for this. Therefore, when cleaning metal parts or equipment, particularly in parts washing scenarios, it is best not to allow multiple metals to soak in the solution for any extended period of time. Evidence of electrolysis can be black or dull streaking on metal parts/equipment after prolonged soaking with other kinds of metals.

Emulsifier - Definition
An emulsifier is an aqueous additive used to keep soils dispersed throughout the cleaning fluid. Simple Green contains an effective emulsifier.

EPA National Contingency Plan
Simple Green is on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's NCP Product Schedule. This listing does NOT mean that EPA approves, recommends, licenses, certifies, or authorizes the use of Simple Green on an oil discharge. The listing means only that data has been submitted to EPA as required by subpart J of the National Contingency Plan, 300.915. (Source 40 CFR section 300.920(e))

Evaporation
Simple Green evaporates at the same rate as water.

Fragrance added
Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner contains synthetic sassafras. Other Simple Green products (Antibacterial Multi-Surface, Lime Scale Remover, Pro Series Simple Green Automotive, etc.) contain "masks", which are not as strong as fragrances in floral, herbal or woody scents.

Glass - What if I used Simple Green too strong on glass?
All-Purpose and Crystal Simple Green should be diluted at 150 parts water to 1 part Simple Green before use on glass, mirrored or reflective surfaces (Tip: add 1 teaspoon of SG to a 24 or 32 oz. spray bottle and fill the rest with water). If used too strong, filmy, streaky, hazy marks can result. First, attempt to remove this by wiping down the surface with a clean, non-abrasive cloth and very hot water. If the problem persists, Bon Ami, a common non-abrasive cleansing powder will remove stubborn residue. You can find Bon Ami at most grocery stores nationwide.

Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval - What does it mean?
Replacement or refund if not 100% satisfied.

Grass or flowers (vegetation)
Diluted Simple Green will not harm grass or flowers, but it's always a good idea not to saturate foliage. The wetting agents in Simple Green will help retain moisture in soil.

Hand Cleaner Gel
For information, please refer to our Simple Green Hand Cleaner Gel page in the Industrial Products sections.

Heavy-Duty Towels
For information, please refer to our Simple Green Heavy-Duty Towel page in the Consumer Products sections.

High-alkaline, water-based cleaners - What are high-alkaline, water-based cleaners and are they hazardous?
The cleaning principle of these products is that the alkaline (high pH) strips the oil from the substrate (surface) and floats it on top of the water, thus allowing re-deposition of oil on the substrate (resulting in poor rinsibility.) Other problems with this cleaning mechanism are that higher alkalinity creates health and safety issues (i.e., chemical burns, choking vapors, the need for costly protective equipment, disposal difficulties, etc.)

Ingredients - What are the ingredients in Simple Green?
All-Purpose Simple Green is made of water, surfactants (surface-active-agents), wetting agents, emulsifiers, green colorant and fragrance. Simple Green does not contain chlorine (bleach), ammonia, formaldehyde or petroleum distillates.

Ingredients - Why aren't the ingredients listed on the label?
Simple Green is non-toxic. Sunshine Makers, Inc. has had the required independent laboratory tests conducted to verify this. Therefore, it is not required by law to list the ingredients on the label. Simple Green's unique formula is protected under the US trade Secrecy Act. Simple Green complies with all current labeling requirements for ingredient disclosure on cleaning products. Some disclosure of ingredients will be given on a case by case basis as required by physicians, veterinarians, or highway safety agents.

Inhalation - Is inhaling Simple Green hazardous to my health?
Problems can result if the mist of Simple Green is breathed into the nose or throat. This is true of practically every cleaner on the market. Because Simple Green contains surfactants (surface-active-agents) and because surfactants have the ability to lift grease, oil and soils up off of surfaces, an aggravation of the mucous membranes of the nose and throat can result from breathing in misted particles of the product. This can cause sore throat, sore nose, sore sinuses, coughing and -in extreme cases- a tightness in the chest. Although uncomfortable, Simple Green is non-toxic and these are completely reversible symptoms. Persons with chronic asthma, emphysema, or other lung conditions should take precautions and avoid breathing in surfactant mists.

Care should be taken when spraying Simple Green above the level of one's head, or using mechanical applicators that create mist (pressure sprayers, steam cleaners, etc.) Additionally, Simple Green products are sold in spray bottles that create a coarse droplet spray that is not easily inhaled. If using a spray bottle other than a Simple Green spray bottle, take care not to breathe in any mist. Use Simple Green in a well-ventilated area or, in more extreme cases or cases of impaired lung condition, use of a fiber painter's mask (found in hardware and home improvement stores) will greatly reduce the risk of inhalation problems.

Is Simple Green a public or privately held company?
Simple Green is a privately held company.

ISO 9000 Standards
Simple Green is manufactured to ISO 9000 standards.

Lead dust removal
See Chelation for details on how Simple Green is being used in lead dust removal.

Montreal Protocol - Simple Green does not contain CFCs or ozone depleting substances
The Montreal Protocol, an international agreement signed on September 16, 1987, stipulated that the production and consumption of compounds that deplete the ozone in the stratosphere, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons and carbon tetrachloride, are to be phased out by the year 2000.

Some participating countries, including the U.S., have enacted even more stringent regulations with shorter phase-out time frames. Simple Green products are safer replacements for cleaners and solvents prohibited by the Montreal Protocol. (See Chlorofluorocarbons, U.S. Clean Air Act and Ozone Depleting)

MPF - Micro-Particulate Fractionalization
Micro-Particulate-Fractionalization is the method of cleaning Simple Green uses special "surface active" agents to break down large globs of oil, grease and fat, creating much smaller microscopic droplets called "micelles." Water is the catalyst for Simple Green's cleaning power. Unlike ordinary cleaners and dispersants, Simple Green's special MPF properties continue breaking down these microscopic droplets even further -- far beyond normal micellization. As these droplets are made smaller and more numerous, they provide increasingly greater surface area for Simple Green and water to attack. Ultimately, instead of being merely suspended in solution, the droplets are actually dissolved into the water. The end result is a much more efficient and effective way to clean and a proven way to eliminate the re-deposition problems common to many cleaners.

Natural - Is Simple Green a "natural" product? Does it contain natural ingredients?
Simple Green products are not considered "natural". They are blends of synthetic chemicals. Most people believe that natural products are automatically better than synthetic ones. However there are many things in nature that are toxic to humans or detrimental to the environment. Things such as citrus extracts, and many plants and plant extracts are toxic or harmful to humans and/or the environment. The only ingredient in Simple Green that could be considered natural is water. For more information, see Citrus Extracts.

Non-Ionic Surfactants
Simple Green consists of non-ionic surfactants. Non-ionic surfactants carry no discrete charge when dissolved in an aqueous media, unlike anionic or cationic surfactants. Hydrophilicity in non-ionic surfactants is provided by hydrogen bonding with water and molecules. Hydrogen bonding provides solubilization (loosening or dissolving action) in neutral and alkaline solutions.

Non-Toxicity
Simple Green has been tested as a whole for a toxicity rating in accordance with OSHA regulations (Occupational Safety & Health Administration.) This is because Simple Green is used in the commercial workplace as well as in the consumer household. OSHA requires testing on a number of levels to assure worker protection from harmful substances.

In reality, everything is toxic in large enough quantities. A person could consume enough milk, chocolate or even water to cause fatality. OSHA measures a substance by a test method called the Lethal Dosage 50 (LD50.) This is a number expressed as grams of the test substance to kilograms of body weight at which 50% of the test population dies. Therefore, the smaller the number, the more toxic a substance is. For example, it might take many, many of grams of soft drink per kilogram of body weight to kill 50% or more of the test subjects, where arsenic might only take less than one gram per kilogram of body weight to have the same rate of fatality. OSHA sets the ingestion toxicity limit at 5 grams per kilogram of body weight. If a substance is over 5 grams per kilogram, it is considered non-toxic - at or under 5 grams per kilogram is toxic.

Simple Green is almost three times the 5-gram minimum to be considered non-toxic. Therefore, we are able to put the words non-toxic on our label. Because our product is used in the US workplace, the testing is required by law. We are one of the very few cleaning products that you will see on the consumer cleaning product shelf that bears the words non-toxic on the label. The others are either toxic, or they are not used in the workplace and do not have to perform the testing to determine their toxicity level.

Oil Spills
See "EPA National Contingency Plan"

Organic - Is Simple Green organic?
Simple Green is an organic cleaner. Organic is defined as any compound containing carbon (please note that "organic" in chemistry has a different meaning from "organic" in food production).

Ozone depleting - Definition
The destruction of the stratospheric ozone layer which shields the earth from ultraviolet radiation harmful to biological life. This destruction of ozone is caused by the breakdown of certain compounds containing chlorine and/or bromine (chlorofluorocarbons or halons) which break down when they reach the stratosphere and catalytically destroy ozone molecules (see Chlorofluorocarbons, Montreal Protocol and U.S. Clean Air Act). Simple Green contains no ozone depleting substances.

Ozone depleting - Do Simple Green foaming aerosol products contain ozone depleting substances?
No. All Simple Green aerosol products are CFC-free and utilize a non-CFC butane & propane propellant. The Montreal Protocol and the US Clean Air Act, Sections 602 and 611, and various international agreements outline the reduction of use, and ultimately the elimination of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), halons and other ozone depleting chemicals. Simple Green products do not contain any ozone depleting substances.

Parts washer - recommended use
Use Simple Green in a parts washer at a 2:1 - 5:1 dilution with water and an optimum temperature between 100-110F. Please be aware that, because Simple Green and Crystal Simple Green are water-based degreasers, regular metal equipment will eventually rust. It is recommended that the switch to a water-based degreaser be accompanied by a switch to either stainless-steel or plastic equipment.

Petroleum-based solvents - What are petroleum-based solvents and are they hazardous?
Also known as "solvent evaporatives", petroleum-based solvents are significant contributors to smog, and create large volumes of hazardous waste. California's South Coast Air Quality Management District ordered approximately 32,000 Southern California businesses to stop using these high-polluting solvents. In 1999, businesses in Los Angeles and other surrounding areas had to switch from so


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