Why We Need to Use Cleaning Solutions like LEXX

The following article citric acid cleaning solutions like LEXX was published in Cleaning and Maintenance Magazine.

In February 2022, the Biden Administration added something new to the Federal government’s mix of programs to promote greener and more sustainability-focused facilities in the U.S. The Buy Clean Task Force focuses on the manufacturing and industrial sectors, encouraging them to lower carbon emissions and reduce the impact these types of facilities have on the environment. *

The program complements an earlier Executive Order that focuses primarily on sustainability, issued in December 2021. That order requires the Task Force “to promote the use of construction materials with lower emissions and pollutants across their entire lifecycle, including each stage of the manufacturing process.”

According to Steve Ashkin, CEO of The Ashkin Group and the professional cleaning industry’s leading advocate for Green Cleaning and sustainability, some of the other goals of the “Buy Clean” program include the following:

· Encouraging the use of Green-friendly building materials, especially in Federal facilities.

· Reducing carbon emissions in industrial facilities by 65 percent by 2030.

• Investing approximately $10 billion in the development of clean hydrogen, because clean hydrogen is considered an alternative to natural gas.

Each of these goals, in its own way, promotes sustainability. And because the Federal government is the largest purchaser of goods and services globally, “these programs invariably will encourage manufacturers and suppliers to develop more [green and sustainable] products,” says Ashkin. “These can be used in Federal buildings and facilities in many industry sectors.” 

More Sustainable Cleaning

When it comes to cleaning, with sustainability increasingly important, some facility managers and cleaning contractors are now looking beyond traditional green cleaning solutions to more sustainable products. One that comes to mind is cleaning solutions made from citric acid, such as LEXX from ProNatural Brands, LLC.

Citric acid is found naturally in citrus fruits. Cleaning products made from citric acid are certainly not new. It is believed the ancient Egyptians used citric acid thousands of years ago as an alternative to bleach. They used it because it was effective, it disinfected, and the ingredients were so plentiful – lemons, limes, and even pineapples grew throughout the area.

Over its long history, citric acid has also been used as a food additive, a flavor enhancer in pop drinks, jams, candies, and even ice cream. It is also found in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals because citric acid helps stabilize the active ingredients in those products.

But Is It Safe? Is it Effective?

The fact that it is considered an “acid” is one reason some cleaning professionals and facility managers may have shied away from citric acid in the past. However, citric acid has a pH of between three and six. The pH scale span is 0 to 14, with zero very acidic, fourteen the least acidic, and seven considered neutral. This means citric acid is a weak acid.

The pH level, however, is strong enough to kill or eliminate many forms of bacteria and viruses.  Further, it is safe enough that it won’t harm the user, building users, or the environment.

The European Space Agency even uses citric acid to clean and protect stainless steel. Formerly, nitric acid was used. But nitric acid is an extraordinarily strong acid, posing a variety of safety hazards. “Citric acid is a promising replacement,” says the Agency. “It can be produced from natural sources, requires lower acid concentrations, and doesn’t generate toxic fumes or hazardous waste.” 

As to its effectiveness, citric acid products such as LEXX have been used to clean a wide range of items including tires and radiators on cars, several types of metals, and even used by farmers as a vegetable rinse.

It has also proven itself as an effective disinfectant. In fact, at least one citric acid disinfectant has been EPA-registered – meaning it has demonstrated its effectiveness when used per manufacturer’s instructions – and is also on the List-N because it is effective at eliminating the pathogen that triggers COVID-19.

Citric Acid and the Future

According to a report released in May 2022 by Future Market Insights (FMI), the use of citric acid products is growing by end users in multiple industries. Among those end-user markets are food and beverage, agriculture, manufacturing, and cleaning.

Another survey in April 2022 by ResearchandMarkets.com, a leading marketing and research organization based in Ireland, found that the global citric acid market “is expected to witness a significant growth rate” through 2027. According to the report, the most significant growth will be food and beverage; however, citric acid will increasingly be finding a home in cleaning. 

As for the professional cleaning industry specifically, there is one crucial reason that the use of citric acid will likely increase in the coming years. That is because of the overuse of some traditional cleaning products, disinfectants, and sanitizers during the pandemic. In some cases, these products caused more harm than good, and in virtually all cases, they were not environmentally friendly or did not promote sustainability. That we can’t repeat.

Lee Chen is the President and COO of ProNatural Brands, LLC, manufacturers of cleaners, sanitizers, and disinfectants using citric acid as their key ingredient.

*According to the EPA, as of 2020, 24 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from the U.S. manufacturing and industrial sectors.

Sidebar: History of Citric Acid

  • The discovery of citric acid has been credited to Jabir Ibn Hayyan, an 8th century Islamic alchemist.
  • Citric acid was first isolated from lemon juice by the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele, in 1784.
  • Industrial-scale use of citric acid began in 1890 in Italy.
  • In 1917, an American chemist, Hames Currie, discovered that certain strains of the mold Aspergillus Niger, could produce citric acid. This is still a source for some industrial-grade products made with citric acid.


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