Volume 11, Issue 5 - June 2010


Cleaner than Cold Water
by Mike Burk

There are a number of stories floating around the Internet concerning the ability to adequately clean dishes with cold water. A dinner guest discovering a plate with a filmy substance and dried specks asks the host, “Are these plates clean?” The host replies that “they are as clean as cold water can get them.” As the story concludes we discover that “Coldwater” is the name of the host’s dog. This story brings to mind some responses I hear when I question IG manufacturers regarding the practice of using hot water and detergent in their glass washing equipment.

Doing it Wrong
There are insulating glass manufacturers that are aware that the temperature of wash water in their glass washers is not hot enough. They attempt to justify the practice of washing glass with cold water: “We have never used hot water and we always pass certification testing.” “We save energy by not heating the water.” “The water doesn’t need to be hot.” Others understand that it is desirable for the water to be hot, but have many excuses why it is not. “The heater is broken or undersized.” “I can’t wait for the water to heat up, we’re behind in production.” “Our hot water tank isn’t large enough to keep up with the demand.”

Doing it Right
Most glass washing equipment manufacturers recommend the wash water be at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit. They design and build the washers with immersion heaters large enough to maintain the required temperature. Many glass washers include switches and alarms that must be reset or bypassed in order to operate the washer with water temperatures that are below specification. They have designed the washer to use hot water because they realize hot water results in cleaner glass.

A consensus regarding the use of hot water usually can be reached. However, a consensus regarding the use of detergent has been more difficult.

"Poor or insufficient rinsing action leaves behind contaminates
that may lead to seal failures."

Most manufacturers realize that approved detergents will result in cleaner glass due to the detergent’s ability to soften and remove oily films and dried contaminates. These manufacturers must watch for inconsistencies in the quantity of detergent used and the frequency in which it is added to the process. Adding detergent only at the beginning of the shift results in lower concentrations of detergent as the tanks are refilled. Excessive amounts of detergent create foaming and contamination of the rinse water. They use products or additives that have not been approved by the supplier of washer glass and sealants can damage glass coatings, contaminate the washer and water filter systems and lead to loss of adhesion.

Other manufacturers oppose the use of detergent due to concerns regarding the rinsing or removal of the detergent. Poor or insufficient rinsing action leaves behind contaminates that may lead to seal failures. When detergents are used, it is critical that the washer rinse section is operating correctly. There must be an ample supply of rinse water to flood the lite of glass and completely rinse away the detergent.

Look to Suppliers for Guidance
The answers for when to use detergent are available from the glass washer manufacturer and the glass supplier. The glass manufacturer will tell you if the use of detergent is recommended and which detergents are compatible with their products. Be specific when inquiring about specialty coatings. The equipment supplier will educate you on when to add detergents and how much is required. This will be based on the tank sizes, the type of water filtration system and the method used to replenish the water through the shift.

If you don’t believe that detergent and hot water make cleaning easier, go home and wash some dirty dishes. Don’t use any hot water or dishwashing soap. Keep in mind that your glass washer will have the same difficulty cleaning with cold water and no detergent. It will be difficult for the washer to remove cutting fluid, oily finger prints, dust, dirt and dried interleaving materials.



Mike Burk serves as manager, workplace learning and development for Edgetech I.G. He may be reached at mike.burk@edgetechig.com. Mr. Burk’s opinions are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect those of this magazine.


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