Latex Cleaners​

Latex Cleaners are often a misunderstood breed, as most polymeric films are categorized as “latex” because of how they look when set-up. 

Natural Rubber Latex – A milky fluid consisting of very small particles of rubber obtained from plants, mainly from the rubber tree, dispersed in an aqueous medium. Products are then formed from natural rubber latex by what is known as the natural rubber latex (NRL) process. Standard latex cleaners work well on these materials.

Synthetic Rubber Latex – As the name defines it, contains man-made ingredients, but contains the same molecular compound as natural latex. Synthetic latex is petroleum based, and made from Styrene-Butadiene Rubber (SBR). It can be less resilient and elastic than natural rubber latex. Standard latex cleaners DO NOT work well on these materials.

SBR Latex is used in the manufacture of tires, and is made by crosslinking rubber – a process called vulcanization, which uses sulfur under heat, thereby creating a link between latex models. This process makes them more elastic by linking long chains of polymers together to increase strength and mass – a must if you drive across pot holes.

OK – so what does all this mean to a tank wash operation?

There are a number of variables that come into play. Things to consider include:

1. Is the latex made of natural rubber or is it synthetic?
2. Is the tank a road tanker or an ISO tank container?
3. If it is a road tanker, has it been top loaded several times?
4. If it is a tank container, has it been in storage or on the ocean for a long time?
5. If set up, is the remaining film thick, thin, and/or hard as nails?

Regardless of any of the above, if you proceed to wash the tank using a specialty latex detergent, prior to doing so it is advisable to cold-water flush the tank, and then invest 15 minutes inside with a powerful pressure washer to remove as much latex as will come out without detergent washing. The overhead vapor space and under the crash boxes, the latex is pretty cooked (crosslinked)

Once the cold water flush and pressure wash phases are complete, there are  several options for washing, as follows:

1. Pressure Washing is removing all the latex very well, and you can continue until finished.
2. Fog a latex softening material into the tank and allow to dwell for at least one hour. Then bring tank into a bay and wash as usual.
3. Closed Loop wash, using a vat with specialty latex detergent. These washes sometimes take up to several hours, especially for SBR latex.
4. Use a vapor impingement process with the tank outside of the wash bay, perhaps where loaded tanks are heated. This keeps your wash bays freed up for faster washes.

Tank Wash Solutions offers some powerful tools for cleaning natural and synthetic Latex.

Pressure Washer 
5  gpm @ 7,000 psi – Many years ago they were called Water Blasters. Nowadays they are in the “Pressure Washer” category. If you clean latex often, that 15 minutes in the tank will be most productive with one of these machines. 

For low volume closed loop, or fogging: John-Henry LIQUI-FIRE LST®
Vapor Impingement: John-Henry M-PINGE 200®

Detergent Wash
John-Henry EMULSI-FIRE SB® latex skin cutter
John-Henry CROSSLINK® latex powdered booster

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Outside The Box Chemistry

Everything Has Changed

Polymer technology changes continually. Detergents and procedures that worked well ten years ago may no longer be effective. Perhaps some "Outside The Box" thinking will deliver the results you need.

Technical Data Sheets for products discussed in the this article

vapor impingement latex presolve
latex and resin presolve non hazardous
latex skin cutter
powdered latex detergent alkaline builder