For a long time, the go to cleaning product for preparing surfaces for exterior painters was TSP.
TSP was cheap, easy to use, and does a great job.
The problem is, Pennsylvania banned its use.
We’re PurcellPro Painting, a professional Willow Grove PA painting company, and we used to use TSP quite a bit.
But now, we work with the alternatives.
Let’s take a closer look.
What Is TSP?
TSP stands for trisodium phosphate.
It’s a packaged cleaning product made of three quarters trisodium phosphate and the rest sodium carbonate, a compound similar to baking soda.
You’d buy a box of it, and dissolve it in a bucket of hot water.
That gives you a slightly cloudy solution that was just about perfect for cleaning walls.
In particular, it’s great at cleaning away soot, grease, and other stubborn grime.
Because you mix the solution yourself, it’s easy to mix it stronger or weaker as needed.
It also has a very long shelf life, so long as you keep it dry.
However, there are some major drawbacks.
The Problem With TSP
There are a few drawbacks to TSP that are relatively minor.
It’s a skin irritant, so you need to wear protective gloves when using it.
It can also damage glass and aluminum surfaces, so you need to watch for that.
But that’s not so big a deal.
Not enough to warrant banning it, anyway.
But TSP use has been banned in 16 different states, including Pennsylvania.
The problem is with the P part of the name – phosphate.
Phosphates are commonly used in cleaners because they’re very effective in dissolving grime.
They’re also a common ingredient in fertilizers, making them highly valuable in agriculture.
However, phosphate is also considered particularly delicious for algae.
When phosphates from cleaning products like TSP end up in the water supply, they can lead to algae growing faster than the environment can handle.
This leads to massive death of fish and other aquatic life.
It can harm humans as well, since some algae can produce toxins.
It can get into the air as well, making it hard to see, harming plants, and even making it difficult to breathe in extreme cases.
For this reason, phosphate detergents have been banned, and that includes TSP.
So if you want to clean your surfaces, what are the alternatives to TSP?
Fortunately, there have been alternatives on the market for many years which are quite effective.
Let’s take a look at some of them.
1. Phosphate Free TSP
Phosphate Free TSP seems like a bizarre name, once you know what TSP actually stands for.
But I guess it makes sense with what they were going for.
Phosphate Free TSP uses a substance called sodium sesquicarbonate as the active ingredient, rather than the phosphates.
It’s not quite as effective at cutting grease, but it’ll do in a pinch.
2. Simple Green
Simple Green is a liquid based cleaning product.
It cleans and cuts grease very well, but one of the nicest things about it is that it’s not an irritant like TSP is.
So you can leave your gloves and masks in the cupboard.
There are a number of different blends of Simple Green depending on what your needs are, making it highly adaptable too.
So what’s the downside?
First of all, it’s more expensive than TSP.
It also tends to take more time to clean away, since it becomes more bubbly than TSP does.
You know that old box of borax sitting on your garage shelf?
The one that’s been there longer than you have, but that the previous owner insisted would come in handy?
The one that you’ve been staring at for years, wondering whether you’d ever find a use for it?
Now you have.
Borax is a boron-based mineral that has a wide variety of different uses, including as a water softening agent, a food preservative, and as a cleaning product.
Instead of mixing TSP into your bucket, mix some borax in, and you’ll have an effective cleaning solution.
Contact PurcellPro Painting Today
Not sure which cleaning solution to use?
Do you struggle with change, and find yourself annoyed that you can’t just use your trusty old TSP the way you used to?
We get it.
We were frustrated when the ban first came down too.
The good news though, is that there are plenty of options for cleaning surfaces before you paint that haven’t been banned.
Even better, these options aren’t as harmful to the environment as TSP is.
If you have a residential painting or commercial painting job you’d like to get taken care of, call PurcellPro Painters today for a free estimate.