Floor strippers have historically been some of the most dangerous cleaning chemicals to work with. They can cause skin, eye, and respiratory irritation, and they can emit hazardous and irritating fumes. End users have begun to push for safer and more environmentally friendly strippers in order to create a healthier work environment. New technology has introduced strippers that are more environmentally friendly and even green-certified. The question is: do these green floor strippers work as well as their hazardous counterparts?
Conventional vs. Green Strippers
Green floor strippers are formulated to deal with the health and environmental concerns involving conventional strippers. Conventional strippers use solvents that are often harmful to human health, as many are reproductive toxicants or have target organ effects. Green strippers use safer solvents, such as benzyl alcohol. Benzyl alcohol is produced naturally, is not toxic, and is not flammable.
The concerns of using high caustic materials are well known, as they can cause damage to skin and eyes, and also to metals and textiles. Green floor strippers are not corrosive to skin, eyes, or metals. This eliminates many of the health and environmental concerns about coming in contact with the stripper and disposing of the used product.
Green Performance Concerns
Although green floor strippers are proven to be safer for human and environmental health, many users have concerns about their performance compared to conventional strippers. The most common complaints are that green strippers are not effective against traditional (non-green) floor finishes, and that they are not useful in removing multiple layers of finish.
The truth behind these issues depends upon the chemistry of the green stripper being used. Some green floor strippers are made to work specifically in a green maintenance program with a green floor finish. These strippers contain chemistry to break the calcium cross-links of green floor finishes, not the zinc cross-links of traditional floor finishes. In this case, green strippers may not work as effectively as conventional strippers at removing multiple layers of traditional finishes.
However, green stripper technology is changing and improving in such a way that green strippers can be even more effective than conventional strippers at removing any finish. Many green strippers contain an amine-based ammonia replacement, meaning they can effectively break the zinc cross-links of traditional floor finishes. Effective green floor strippers contain larger amounts of safe solvents rather than large amounts of high caustic materials. The increased solvent content allows the stripper to effectively penetrate and loosen multiple layers of finish.
While some green stripper technology is made specifically for green floor finish technology and does not work as effectively against traditional finishes and heavy build-up, many new green strippers have much improved technology that will work as effectively as or better than conventional strippers. Multi-Clean offers a full line of floor strippers, including the Green Seal® certified Ultra Stripper.
For more information on Multi-Clean’s floor care program, visit our Floor Care Products page or our Certified Floor Care Program. Also be sure to check out our technical bulletin on Green Floor Strippers.