Market Insights

Basel, 31 March 2022

The trend of green cleaning – Citrics as biobased cleaning ingredients

A clean and healthy environment is the key for human well-being and the ecological sustainability of our planet. People are becoming more and more aware of the major issues we are facing concerning the pollution of soil, water and air. When it comes to purchasing cleaning products, consumers are now just as concerned with the environmental and safety aspects as they are with the performance and price of the products. The demand for ecologically friendly cleaners will therefore continue to represent a strong growth market.

Modern detergents have replaced traditional soap and are composed of different functional components. In this context, citric acid and trisodium citrate have proven to possess unique properties that make them ideal ingredients for formulations that combine cleaning efficacy and environmental responsibility. Thus, they represent label friendly solutions for a broad range of cleaning products such as laundry and dishwashing detergents, all-purpose cleaners or industrial cleaners.

With our mission "From nature to ingredients®" Jungbunzlauer offers Citrics products, which help our customers to manufacture safer and more sustainable products. Jungbunzlauer’s citric acid is manufactured by fermentation of renewable raw materials, such as carbohydrates from corn. Trisodium citrate is subsequently produced by complete neutralisation of citric acid. In addition, both citric acid and trisodium citrate are ECOCERT approved as raw materials of 100% natural origin for use in detergents.

Trisodium citrate as builder
Trisodium citrate is an ideal ingredient with excellent complexing properties and a favourable environmental profile. Moreover, it is a non-toxic, easily biodegradable ingredient. Traditionally used chelating agents such as phosphates and EDTA face increasingly criticism since their excessive release into water increases the discharge of nutrients as well as complexes with low biodegradability.

Laundry detergents
Trisodium citrate is suitable for liquid detergent formulations as well as powder detergents. Sodium citrate acts by forming soluble complexes with calcium and magnesium ions present both in water and in soiling, and helps in dispersing the soiling particles. It also contributes to keep powder detergents in a free-flowing state and is compatible with other common detergent ingredients. Moreover, trisodium citrate enhances the effectiveness of surfactants thus increasing the overall detergent efficacy.

Dishwashing detergents
With regard to the requirements of modern dishwashing systems, trisodium citrate is an excellent alternative to phosphates in automatic dishwashing detergents (ADWD), due to its ability to sequester metal ions. Even at higher temperatures, citrates show a high ability to complex ions and thus sequester calcium carbonate. Both the dihydrate form of trisodium citrate (TSC) as well as the anhydrous form (TSA) show excellent flowability and tabletting characteristics including breaking strength, friability and disintegration time. Furthermore, the porous structure of trisodium citrate anhydrous can be used for loading with other ADWD components such as surfactants or fragrances.

As part of rinse aids for dishwashing, citric acid is the preferred organic acid. It avoids the formation of precipitates by reacting with carbonate and thus prevents the redeposition of scale on the dishes. It also neutralises alkaline residues from the previous washing round. Moreover, it regulates the pH and it confers temperature and storage stability to the rinse aid.

Citric acid has good descaling properties which makes it a viable alternative to widely used synthetic descaling agents.  This allows a very efficient use in applications like coffee machine or kettle descaling solutions. Citric acid is also less corrosive to different materials which enables a sufficient and broad use in various household cleaners.

In conclusion, Jungbunzlauer citric acid and trisodium citrate are sustainable and effective options to replace traditionally used substances in various cleaning products. The fermentation-based manufacturing process from renewable raw materials together with good biodegradability make these two Jungbunzlauer ingredients very suitable for the use in green cleaning formulations.