January 05, 2016 2 Comments
We've noticed a lot of confusion on the various forums about which softwash products to use, when to use them, and how power washing fits into the softwashing big picture. So in this post we do our best to clarify the situation.
Bio Cleanze is the strongest and most cost-effective quaternary ammonium ("quat") DDAC biocide in the UK and Ireland. It has a residual biocidal effect because it requires contact with organic matter to break down. Therefore some of the active ingredient is able to remain and kill spores that land on the surface in the months following treatment.
The combination of warm weather and high rainfall facillitates the rapid spread of algae. This is true especially of horizontal surfaces such as paths and drives. But on surfaces treated with Bio Cleanze we have noticed no sign of algae growth returning even after 12-24 months, which shows how powerful the residual biocidal effect is.
This affect can be seen most noticeably on surfaces that have been pre-cleaned using either Lightning Cleanze or a power washer as there is less organic matter to break down the active ingredient (DDAC).
Lightning Cleanze is a powerful formula combining a sophisticated surfactant, a pleasant scent, and high quality sodium hypochlorite. It does not have a residual biocidal effect (neither does any sodium hypochlorite based product) because the sodium hypochlorite breaks down within 30-60 minutes of application. It does not require contact with organic matter to break down, although contact speeds up that process.
Lightning Cleanze is the treatment of choice for all soft surfaces that should not be power-washed – such as sandstone, limestone, and render – which have been contaminated with heavy organic growth.
On vertical surfaces, which do not accumulate damp, treatment with Lightning Cleanze may be sufficient. A treatment with Bio Cleanze 12 months later, followed by a bi-annual treatment with Bio Cleanze will keep most walls perpetually clean. For walls in damp, shaded areas, an annual treatment with Bio Cleanze may be necessary.
Horizontal surfaces suffer from damp much more than walls, and so the potential for re-contamination is much greater. Concrete paths, patios, and drives come up well with Lightning Cleanze and benefit from a post-treatment of Bio Cleanze to offer residual biocidal protection.
Quick tip: We recommend Bio Cleanze for tarmac as our experience is that this leaves the tarmac looking good and deals with most biological growths within 24-48 hours.
Some infestations are harder to shift than others. For example, the black lichen that can grow on concrete paths and patios can be a really tough proposition to remove. The choice of which method to use depends upon the severity of the contamination, the likelihood of re-contamination, and on whether or not you have access to a power washer. We've used this example of black lichen on concrete paths and patios to illustrate the possible combinations that softwashing offers:
1) Light power wash followed by Bio Cleanze (works well and provides residual biocidal effect)
2) Lightning Cleanze > Light power wash & rinse > Lightning Cleanze > Rinse (works well on severe contamination and although it has no residual biocidal effect this method reduces the materials cost)
3) Lightning Cleanze (1-2 applications) > Light power wash & rinse > Bio Cleanze (loosens up and removes severe growths prior to power washing, then offers residual biocidal protection)
4) Lightning Cleanze (1-3 applications) > Bio Cleanze (when a power washer is not available)
Dilution rates: If the contamination is not too severe, and on most non-porous surfaces, Lightning Cleanze @ 10:1 may be sufficient but for severe contamination use 5:1.
Bio Cleanze can be used to great effect at 50:1 and also as strong as 20:1. Do not apply to surfaces that will be walked on by young children or animals at a strength greater than 40:1 and allow the surface to dry completely before they are allowed access.
Quick tip: Two successive treatments at 50:1 can be more effective than a single treatment at 25:1 because this allows for the active ingredient to have a longer contact time with, and a deeper penetration into, the biological growth.
You'll find from experience what combination and which dilution rates work best for specific situations and surfaces. We cannot give absolute figures and recommendations because the climatic variables of temperature, wind, sunlight, rainfall, shading, and the nature of the surface being treated, all vary from region to region and from job to job.
The experience needed to calculate these variables makes softwashing a skilled profession, which makes it both interesting and justifies your fees.
Quick tip: Whenever you apply Bio Cleanze following Lightning Cleanze always thoroughly rinse the surface to ensure as much of the Lightning Cleanze surfactant as possible is removed. And we suggest allowing a full 60 minutes for the sodium hypochlorite in Lightning Cleanze to completely break down before treating the surface with Bio Cleanze.
The surfactant we use in Lightning Cleanze is highly specialised, biodegradable, and was developed by our industrial chemists specifically for use in Lightning Cleanze. The use of this high quality surfactant ensures Lightning Cleanze remains stable and does not break down the sodium hypochlorite before it reaches the surface to cleaned.
Combined with the highest quality sodium hypochlorite in Lightning Cleanze (beware cheap hypo products as all hypo is not created equal – they vary in strength, purity, and conformity with REACH regulations) means this is a very high quality product. Comparing Lightning Cleanze with cheap hypo, cheap surfactant, and cheap scent is like comparing a new BMW with an old banger.
Rinsing technique following Lightning Cleanze treatment: It's important to rinse Lightning Cleanze from the surface 30-60 minutes following application. Also to rinse between treatments if the surface requires more than one application. The fastest and most effective rinsing method is to use a power washer at low pressure, using a rinsing nozzle (a hosepipe will do but is less effective). If you don't have a machine with adjustable pressure, use a fan jet held well away from the surface so as reduce the pressure on the surface and not to cause damage.
When to use Bio Cleanze:
Examples of when to use Lightning Cleanze:
Examples of when to use a power washer:
We hope this helps clear away the confusion as to what works best when it comes to softwashing best practices.
Ben, Leo & Fiona
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September 15, 2021
Many soft wash contractors can be unsure of the safest way to soft wash asbestos roofs. So in this post we lay out the best practices we've learned from running a soft washing business since 2013.
Click the link on this page to learn how to treat asbestos ...
September 08, 2021
Ben demonstrates how to scrape moss and lichen from natural slate roof tiles and treat the biofilm to kill all the growths on this natural slate roof.
Click the link on this page to watch the how-to video ...
September 02, 2021 2 Comments
When soft washing it's vitally important to protect surrounding building materials. e.g. lead flashing. And not to create "clean streaks" – from overspray and run-off – on surfaces that are not part of your contract.
Click the link on this page to watch how we achieve this when soft washing a chimney ...
It's a free resource for people wanting to learn about the soft washing industry, to expand an existing business, or build a new business.
Soft washing reduces, or even eliminates, the need to use high-pressure washing.
Instead, once the build up of algae, lichen, fungus, moss and mould – the root causes of properties looking "dirty" – has been treated, the natural "self-cleansing" of sun, rain and wind removes the surface residue through time.
By educating the cleaning trade and public about soft washing we are helping develop an industry that offers sustainable treatments to clean and maintain exterior hard surfaces.
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This saves you time, is a highly professional approach, and increases your chances of winning new contracts.