Commercial cleaning services in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The Safety of Biobased Floor Stripping Products

Mall floor



Floors located in busy commercial or public environments can take a lot of abuse.  In addition to regular foot traffic, they may have very heavy objects rolled across them or placed in one spot for a long time.  Floors in kitchens, bathrooms or public spaces may also be exposed to a number of caustic fluids and solvents.

This can result in hard-to-remove stains, grime or residues accumulating on the floor.  If the floor is coated with wax, dirt can also accumulate in the wax over time.  This can occur with floors of all types include stone, linoleum, timber and ceramic tile.  In many cases, the only way to thoroughly clean the floor is through the use of a floor stripping solution.  This will remove old wax, soil, debris and harsh stains from the floor.

There are a number of different floor stripping products on the market.  One option is to use “biobased products” — products that only contain natural ingredients.  They are considered to be an environmentally friendly and sustainable option.  But are safe to use and effective at cleaning the floor?  This article will examine some recent research to learn more about biobased floor stripping products.

What are biobased floor stripping products?

Biobased chemicals

Biobased floor cleaners use ingredients that are derived from renewable agricultural products.  These types of cleaners can be created using a wide range of agricultural products including soybeans, corn, oranges, and coconuts. 

These kinds of products have been around for many decades, with the first biobased cleaner patented in 1932.  Unfortunately, low-cost products made from fossil fuels and man-made chemicals have come to dominate the market.

As more consumers have become aware of the environmental problems associated with fossils fuels and manmade chemical, biobased products have regained their popularity.  Their use is now widespread in the professional cleaning industry and many governments encourage companies to use biobased products.

Although they are made from natural products, these cleaners can be very powerful and are capable of stripping floors.  Despite them being environmentally friendly, consumers should still remain cautious when handling biobased products and use the appropriate safety equipment.

It is important to note that some biobased cleaning products are not certified with environmental organisations.  It is important to look on the label to determine if the product has been certified as environmentally friendly  The Greenbrands website is a useful resource for finding environmentally friendly, biobased cleaning products.

Some of the most commonly used ingredients in biobased cleaning products include:

  • Citric Acid
    Usually obtained from fungi, it is useful for descaling surfaces.  Citric acid is often found in bathroom products.  It can cut through soap scum and make help to remove grease.
  • Soybean oil methyl esters
    A powerful solvent that can dissolve inks, tar and grease.  Obtained from soybeans.
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
    Commonly found in detergents, degreasers and foamers
  • Ethyl lactate (Lactic acid)
    Another very strong solvent for oil, inks and grease
  • Stearic acid
    Used in soap to build viscosity
  • Glycerin
    Often used in soaps to provide lubrication and help retain moisture in the skin
  • Alkyl polyglycoside
    Used in cleaning products as a degreasing agent and foamer
  • Xanthan Gum
    Used to add viscosity to cleaning products.


The safety of biobased floor stripping products

A study was performed in 2007 to examine the ecological, health, and safety (EHS) implications of using biobased floor-stripping products as an alternative to solvent-based products.

A number of biobased and chemical products were tested using an EHS-scoring technique created by the Surface Solution Laboratory (SSL) of the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI).  The researchers also took a look at the costs involved when using a biobased floor stripping products instead of a chemical solvent-based product.

The products were tested at full strength and at the dilution ratios recommended by the respective manufacturers.  The testing protocol looked at five different metrics — volatile organic compounds (VOCs); pH; global-warming potential (GWP); ozone depletion potential (ODP); and safety scores.  The safety scores looked at the flammability, stability, and hazards associated with the products.

The researchers found that all 8 biobased cleaning products had better EHS scores than a traditional solvent-based cleaning product called Pro Strip.  One of the biobased products scored an impressive 49 out of 50 on the EHS test.

The study results clearly indicate that the biobased products were safer than the chemical solvent-based product.  In terms of cost, the biobased products ranged from $4.10 per litre through to $15.61 per litre when using the product undiluted.  At suggested dilution rates, the cost of the most expensive biobased product was $3.90 per litre compared to $0.65 per litre for the chemical product.

However, those figures do not include the cost of chemical disposal.  Because the biobased products are environmentally friendly, there are less special precautions required when using the product or disposing of it.

The findings from this research indicate that biobased floor stripping products are safer to use, better for the environment and quite effective.  If you are going to have your floors stripped, it is definitely worth considering biobased products.


EU Ecolabel - Environment - European Commission. (2016). Retrieved 16 July 2016, from

Natural Green Cleaning Products Made From Plants (2016). Retrieved 16 July 2016, from

Massawe E, e. (2016). Health, safety, and ecological implications of using biobased floor-stripping products.  - PubMed - NCBI. Retrieved 16 July 2016, from