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Sodium metasilicate - is it a cleaning agent?

Q. Would sodium metasilicate [affil link] be a recommended product as a cleaning agent for PVC (as an vinyl awning cleaner)?

Pat Braithwaite
- Langley, B.C., Canada

"Advanced Cleaning Product Formulations"
by Ernest W. Flick

on AbeBooks

or Amazon

(affil links)

A. Sodium metasilicate is not a cleaning agent by itself. It is a VERY strong base. The pH of a 1% aqueous solution is about 13. In moist air it is corrosive to metals like zinc, aluminium, tin and lead, forming hydrogen gas. As a strong base, it reacts violently with acids. A major use is as a builder (a material that enhances or maintains the cleaning efficiency of a surfactant, principally by inactivating water hardness) in soaps and detergents.

It may be used as part of a component in a chemical degreaser, where it would react with fatty acids(animal grease) to form a soap, which is then rinsed away.

Sodium silicate, on the other hand, is an abrasive white powder frequently used in things like toothpaste. It doesn't clean by itself either.

Not something I would recommend for household use.

Robert Zonis
- Havre de Grace, Maryland

December 4, 2009

A. In my experience, sodium metasilicate [affil link] is [truly] an excellent cleaning agent. I cannot state with certainty if it will clean PVC [proviso] "without damage to its applied surfaces". I would not hesitate in testing though to satisfy my curiosity or need. It would seem to me that simple laundry detergent or that of an equal grade would be sufficient for the application originally queried (awning exterior).

You see, PVC or ABS plastics have a propensity to deteriorate under the sun's UV rays. In my applications, it is used as part of a process to vitally and thoroughly clean ferrous metal, typically after sand-blasting, finish removal, or acid pickling etc.

The manner in which I use it, the water is heated to and stabilized at a temperature of 180 °F then mixed at a ratio of 4-5 oz's per gallon of water. (by the way, I use a filtration system which removes sediment, minerals, bacteria and finally deionizes the water).

This agent may be acquired as a liquid or powder. I prefer the powder (white crystal-like in composition).

As with all specialized cleaning operations, SAFETY is key! Adapt or elect a safety protocol before using this agent as this solution is a VERY STRONG alkaline! You may elect to follow safety protocols outlined in documentation such as OSHA guidelines (i.e., safety procedures for the handling of this powder, liquid or solution; exposure(s), first aid, etc.) Protect yourself and those around you. Alkaline burns are dangerous as well as very injurious.

Best regards,

Alex Szabo
- Jacksonville Florida

Q. It seemed that there may be some concern about using sodium silicate as a cleaner in your response to another question; what is the concern, its abrasive properties or what?

Thanks, Larry

Lawrence Scrima
- Aurora, Colorado

Q. Where can I buy 'water glass' [adv: item on eBay or Amazon] ?

Ariel Alepuz
- Miami, Florida

A. Hi Ariel.

That advertising link gives you some sources, and tells you what sodium silicate is, and its uses.

You can google for many other sources. If you are interested in reviews, most such products on Amazon have user reviews attached.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
June 2011

Q. OK, I can clean iron with Sodium Meta Silicate in my emulsifier solution but it rusts within hours. Tried a phosphate with no joy? Any ideas which is the best to use?

Zak Johnston
cleaners and adhesives - Birmingham, West Midlands, UK
July 19, 2011

A. Hi Zak.

Good alkaline cleaners for iron and steel saponify, wet & emulsify, deflocculate, chelate & sequester, buffer, and inhibit. You can certainly formulate your own if you wish, but proven mixtures are commercially available from metal finishing process distributors. Yes, raw iron and steel will rust in hours, but cleaning solutions which leave the metal with an alkaline disposition can deter it for a while. Sometimes merely dipping the parts back in the cleaner and letting it dry on the metal can provide a temporary rust-proofing.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

A. I bought a trisodium phosphate [on eBay or Amazon affil link] hard surface cleaner.

It contains Sodium Meta-Silicate and Phosphate. I am going to add it to my dishwasher because my glasses have a cloudy like stain. Most Dishwashing products had to remove Phosphate per State law I think 36 states banned its use.

Charlie Davis
- Tampa, Florida
July 24, 2011

A. To Charlie Davis comment:
Based on an experience with a customer complaint about municipal water, make sure that what you are trying to remove is a film of residue and not etched glass. Some combinations of dishwashers and detergents permanently etch glassware and changing cleaners won't help

Frank Skee
- High Point North Carolina US
July 28, 2011

Q. I have used a sodium metasilicate [affil link] based cleaner for 7 years. My container is nearly empty. It has worked effectively on ceramic tile, cement-based tiles, vinyl and aluminum siding and removes stains from carpet textiles, including nylon, polyester and acrylic, quite thoroughly. I first used it to remove salt and road dirt from my car's floor mats. I recommend it as a safe and effective home cleaner.

Follow the directions exactly on the package to make it mild, medium or heavy-duty strength, mixed with a specified amount of water. Use it outdoors or in a well-ventilated area (turn on some electric fans and open the doors / windows if using indoors).

I always wear rubber gloves when mixing and applying it mixed with the appropriate amount of hot water, according to the package directions. I use a wide-head bristle brush with a short handle to apply it to carpet fibres, tile and siding. Scrub till a slight foam appears, rinse with clear water and allow to dry. When cleaning carpet fibres, vacuum up the water with a shop vac or blot up well with old towels.

In the many years I have used this sodium metasilicate [affil link] cleaner, I have never had any problem from fumes from the product, or with damage to any material or textile I used it on as a cleaner. However, that brand is no longer produced or available for sale in North America, so I am looking for an equally safe and manageable substitute.

Carol Shetler
- Oshawa, Ontario, CANADA
March 14, 2012

A. Look for another brand with as close to matching ingredients as you can find, Carol. Or you can look to Amazon for product reviews. Sorry our forum focuses on technology rather than sourcing, and we don't do testimonials here :-(

Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
April 3, 2012

Q. Hi I was looking up sodium metasilicate regards to cleaning Macrocarpa timber boards or Cedar weather boards. Any info will be appreciated. --Chris

Chris Boyes
- Wellington New Zealand
September 19, 2012

Powdered Brewery Wash

(affil links)

A. I use a cleaner called PBW, or Powered Brewery Wash.
It is mostly Sodium Metasilicate originally designed for Coors Brewing Co. It is excellent at removing any sort of protein based scum. It can be purchased at a home brewer's shop in sizes from 1 to 8 pound tubes and online from 1 pound to 50 pound drums. My experience it works great but not to be used on Aluminium.

Ben Hocking
- Walton, Kentucky
December 6, 2012

Q. What other chemical can I use with sodium metasilicate when manufacturing engine degreaser and what ratio?

Bright Chinhema
supplier of chemicals - Harare, Zimbabwe
June 12, 2013

thumbs up sign The powdered TSP substitute cleaners are mostly sodium metasilicate. I mix some of that with liquid laundry detergent to spray on customers' driveways which have the black crud growing on them. I don't rinse it off either. It kills the crud and over time it decomposes into dust which can be swept off with a broom or water hose. Sodium metasilicate is widely used to prevent fungal growth on picked melons and other produce.

Bill Wilson
- Longview, Texas USA
October 26, 2015

Q. Is sodium silicate is biodegradable? I guess it is not ... then what is the replacement of it in detergent having same working as it has?

Shoukat Muneer
- Lahore, Pakistan
February 15, 2016

June 17, 2016

Air Filter Cleaner

(affil links)

A. FYI, sodium metasilicate pentahydrate is the single chemical in K&N [brand] "Air Filter Cleaner" [UPC: 0 24844 00030 9], for their line of semi-permanent auto engine air filters. It's available at virtually any California auto parts store, so presumably in all other states also.

The K&N product number is 99-0606, also in a kit 99-5000.
There is no indication of what the strength/dilution is, but it doesn't damage the air filter fibers or rubber filter frame.

I have no affiliation with this manufacturer.


A. I'd imagine it's fully biodegradable. When it is mixed with other wastes and the pH comes down, it should hydrolyze into colloidal silica, which there's already plenty of in most receiving waters.

dave wichern
Dave Wichern
Consultant - The Bronx, New York
June 23, 2016

A. First off Sodium Meta-silicate is biodegradable. For those looking for a general purpose cleaner that is available everywhere...Spray Nine. I've used this stuff for all my cleaning needs and it has worked very well for all applications. My latest application is cleaning nicotine and tar off old oil paintings. If you are going to try that, do a test spot first but really I haven't found it to be an issue with oil paintings. Spray it all over the painting and watch the brown crap stream off...I quickly rinse off the painting and use a blow drying about 12 inches away to dry the surface of the oil and canvas quickly.

Steve Clark
- Vancouver, BC, Canada
January 31, 2017

Q. Used dishwashing liquid with sodium Meta-Silicate and sodium hydroxide with surfactant in large amount water. Some spray got on glass and paint of car. Seems like hard water stains. How can I remove from both surfaces?

Sam hoffman
- Watsonville, California, usa
April 25, 2020

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