The American Cleaning Institute (ACI)

Ingredient Functions

What do cleaning ingredients do?

The industry is committed to helping you understand what ingredients are in your cleaning products and why they are there so that you can make informed buying decisions. These ingredient function definitions have been developed through validated consumer research to provide standardized industry language that helps demystify the ingredient list and empower consumer understanding.

cleaning product bottles

Abrasive An ingredient that scrubs off dirt as you rub surfaces.
Antimicrobial This ingredient kills or reduces the growth of microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, molds, and yeasts on surfaces.
Bittering Agent An ingredient that imparts a bitter taste to enhance safety.
Bleach An ingredient that removes colored stains.
Brightener An ingredient that helps enhance the brightness of whites and colors in fabrics.
Carrier An inactive ingredient that is used to deliver the active ingredients.
Cleaning Agent An ingredient that helps products clean by loosening and dissolving soil in water.
Colorant A dye or other ingredient that provides color.
Defoamer An ingredient that prevents excessive foaming.
Denaturant An ingredient added to alcohol to make it unfit for consumption.
Deodorizer An ingredient that removes or masks odor.
Dissolvable Film A film that dissolves in water.
Enzyme This ingredient is a biological cleaner that helps break down dirt such as starches, grass, and blood.
Enzyme Stabilizer An ingredient added to keep enzymes stable until used.
Fabric Softener An ingredient added to improve the feel and softness of fabrics and/or reduce static.
Foam Booster An ingredient that boosts foam production.
Fragrance An ingredient that provides scent or neutralizes odor.
Greasy Soil Remover A component that is primarily added to remove grease, oils, and fats.
Laundry Cleaning Booster An ingredient that helps prevent dinginess, helps removes oily soils and prevents dyes from spreading.
Metal Surface Protector A substance that reduces corrosion of metals caused by a cleaning product.
Microbial Cleaning Agent Microbes that help break down grime, grease and other organic soils.
Moisturizer An ingredient that prevents the loss of moisture.
Opacifier An ingredient added to enhance the products appearance.
pH Adjuster This ingredient changes the pH of the product to improve performance and stability.
pH Stabilizer This ingredient keeps the pH of the cleaning product within a specific range to be most effective and safe.
Preservative An ingredient that prevents spoilage.
Processing Aid An inactive ingredient added to assist during production.
Propellant A pressurized ingredient that creates a fine spray or foam.
Rust and Hard Water Stain Remover An ingredient that is added to remove rust and hard water deposits.
Shine Enhancer A material that creates a shiny appearance on surfaces.
Soil Dissolver This ingredient helps with cleaning by breaking up stains and dissolving soil so that they can be easily removed.
Stabilizer An ingredient that maintains product appearance.
Stain Repellant An ingredient that prevents soils and stains from sticking to your fabrics.
Static Reducer A substance that reduces buildup of static electricity on a surface.
Tablet Disintegrant An ingredient that helps aid in the dissolving of product.
Thickener A substance which increases the thickness of a liquid.
Thinner A substance which decreases the thickness of a liquid.
UV Light Absorber A substance that absorbs harmful UV light.
Water Softener / Soap Scum Remover This ingredient improves cleaning by removing minerals in hard water like calcium or magnesium.
Water Spot Repellant An ingredient that prevents water spots from building up on surfaces.
Wipe The clothlike material used to deliver cleaning products.