Riddle: When is a gallon of cleaning products not a gallon of cleaning products?
Answer: When it’s actually 16 gallons.
Confused? Consider this: Most of the time when you buy a gallon of something, that’s all you get. If you buy a gallon of milk, you get a gallon of milk; buying a gallon of gas gets you a gallon of gas. But many cleaning, disinfectant, and odor control products are sold as concentrates. By purchasing those and mixing them correctly, you increase the usable amount of products, making them very economical. Sometimes one gallon of concentrate will make hundreds of gallons of RTU (ready to use) cleaning chemicals. So that 99¢ bottle of RTU glass cleaner you can pick up at the local box store may really not be such a great deal.
It may be tempting to try to squeeze even more use from the cleaning products you buy by further diluting the concentration level. But using the recommended concentration is much more cost-efficient than watering them down because weak chemicals take longer to do the job and you may have to repeat the cleaning process over to achieve the desired results. The aggravation and wasted time just is’t worth saving a few cents.
Obviously, concentrates require adding water in order to dilute them according to the specific directions listed on the product label. Most understand that, but the manner of communicating how much concentrate and how much water to use is a bit more complex and leaves room for error.
For instance, the frequent method for expressing dilution rates is by using ratios, but sometimes you need to know more. For example, which does a ratio of 1:8 mean? Is it:
It’s important to get it right because in this case, an error adds up to a 12.5% difference! That means either your cleaning efficiency goes down 12.5% or your costs rise 12.5%, neither of which is a positive outcome.
What’s puzzling is that each of the ways of defining the ratios shown above could be justifiable. So always check product labels for a detailed explanation of any ratio. If the details can’t be found, then check directly with the manufacturer. It's worth the extra effort.
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