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We need to make a big statement here. There is absolutely no need for so-called “Chemical Washing”. Most, if not all, air conditioner servicing companies in Singapore have been marketing “Chemical Washing” as the essential method of cleaning and rejuvenating air conditioners. However, have you ever wondered if this is true? Or is this part of the marketing strategy of the sector to get to the real meaty profits? Let us explain why “chemical washing” is not necessary.



In simpler terms, “chemical washing” involves cleaning the internal components of indoor fancoils with industrial chemicals. The process involves dismantling the internal parts, including the evaporator coils, and immersing those in a chemical solution. Although “chemical washing” is a quick method of removing grime and mould through corrosion, there are several implications that these companies do not want you to know. Whats are these implications? Read on.


1. The Chemicals Used are Harmful. 

You can purchase cleaning chemicals from two sources – DIY shops at shopping malls, and industrial suppliers. The chemicals sold at DIY stores are usually aerosol spray cans. What is unusual about these spray cans is that the chemical ingredients are never listed on the label. It is only after much effort that we managed to find a cleaning chemical with the ingredients label:

We find the following harmful ingredients and side effects:

2-Butoxyethoxy ethanol: This substance is used in the following products: coating products, washing & cleaning products, fertilisers, heat transfer fluids, hydraulic fluids, lubricants and greases, plant protection products, water treatment chemicals and cosmetics and personal care products. According to the harmonised classification and labelling (CLP00) approved by the European Union, this substance causes serious eye irritation.

Isobutane: Isobutane is also used as a propellant for aerosol cans and foam products. Reacts with strong oxidants, acetylene, halogens and nitrogen oxides causing fire and explosion hazard. Rapid evaporation of the liquid may cause frostbite. The substance may cause effects on the cardiovascular system , resulting in impaired functions and respiratory failure. Exposure at high level may result in death.

d-Limonene: Limonene is a colorless liquid hydrocarbon classified as a cyclic terpene. The more common D-isomer possesses a strong smell of oranges. Symptoms of exposure to this compound may include irritation and sensitization of the skin. It may also cause eye irritation and damage. Ingestion of large doses may lead to albuminuria and hematuria

Industrial suppliers also retails chemical solution with warning labels:

We must be careful when using these chemicals on our air conditioner, be it at home or in our offices. If these chemicals are not handled and cleansed thoroughly, they will be circulated into the air and be inhaled, causing health hazards. This would be particular for children and adults suffering from eczema or asthma.

For Food and Beverages establishment, our National Environmental Agency (NEA) has stipulated for non-chemical washing of air conditioner. The reason is because when using these chemicals, there is a risk where the chemicals will contaminate the food through air-borne means, and thereby causing food poisoning.

We really should not use such chemicals for our air conditioners.


2. Chemicals Washing introduces Rust.

The chemicals used in “chemical washing” are corrosive (even those labelled “alkaline based”). These compounds etches and oxides the metal fins within the fancoil. When that happens, the fancoils will form rust as it gets exposed to the air and moisture during air conditioning operations, thereby reducing the effectiveness of your air conditioner. It is therefore a false claim when companies tout “chemical washing will restore your air conditioner to perform as good as new“. The only way to remove the rust is to use even more corrosive chemicals. Regular (bi-annual or annually) cleaning using this method will greatly reduce the life of your cooling coil. Thus increasing frequency with which you need to replace your air conditioning split unit system. Have a look at a rusty fancoil in the picture below:

Rusty Fancoil. Does your aircon looks like this?

Rust particulates can be irritating to the eyes, like any dust. Ferric oxide can also cause an upset stomach. The main hazard of ferric oxide is inhaling it as a fine dust or fumes. Inhalation causes lung irritation and coughing. Long-term inhalation causes a condition known as siderosis where iron is deposited in the lungs.


3. Chemical Washing is Expensive.

A “Full Chemical Service” usually involves tearing down the entire coil. This full service is expensive. Companies that offers “chemical washing” often charges a surcharge on top of the regular servicing fees. This can range from $80 to even $200.


In conclusion, let us all be more aware about the dangers of “chemical washing”. There are other means of cleaning our aircon in a healthy, sustainable and environmental friendly way.




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