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Student Project: Which cleaning products contain phosphoric acid?

A discussion started in 2004 but continuing through 2018


Q. I would like to know what cleaning products contain phosphoric acid because I am doing a project and it is required.

Melissa Sue [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
student - Steelton, Pennsylvania


A. I hate to tell you this, but household cleaners do NOT contain phosphoric acid or other phosphates. This is because they generally create problems for the municipal sewage systems.

Industrial cleaners (and by this I mean cleaners used as a pretreatment for a later process, like plating or painting) may contain phosphoric acid. To determine this, you would need to look at material safety data sheets.

The most common phosphate used in cleaning is trisodium phosphate [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], generally known as TSP.

James Totter
James Totter, CEF
- Tallahassee, Florida


A. Melissa, check out Loctite's Naval Jelly [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]. According to data at http://henkelcamsds.com/pdf/01-80276.pdf, it contains 25-30% phosphoric acid.

Weldon Scardino, P.E. (ret)


A. I was under the same impression, Jim. And then I put Cascade Dishwashing Detergent into the dishwasher last night and noted that the label said it contained phosphates. 5-1/2 percent if I recall accurately.

Ted Mooney, amadeya42.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Pop Bottle Science


A. I believe Coca Cola is supposed to contain phosphoric acid - it cleans up pennies a real treat.

trevor crichton
Trevor Crichton
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK

October 7, 2008

A. There is a product called sparkle made by Buckeye
It has 36% phosphoric acid
It is an acid cleaner and can be found at any janitorial distributor that carries Buckeye

Kevin Pursell
- Billings, Montana

April 27, 2010

A. Yes, some cleaning solutions do contain phosphoric acid. One that I am looking at right now is "Alpha HP" by Diversey Johnson. It is a bathroom disinfectant cleaner, sold in highly concentrated liquid form and is a hydrogen-peroxide based cleaner.


March 6, 2016

Q. I heard that WD-40 and Radiator Fluid contain Phosphoric Acid. Does anyone know what the %'s are in comparison to Coke?

And YES, "Coke" does contain Phosphoric Acid. though I DON'T know what the % is in comparison by volume to household cleaners and such. I'm doing research for a book so anything you can contribute will be most useful.^_^

Telara Sky
- Pond, California

January 28, 2018

Q. I'm looking for something to clean my vintage tractor engine water galleries while the block is still in the tractor...any suggestions for a cleaner that has phosphoric acid in it which will eat rust?

Roland Karl
- Grants Pass, Oregon USA

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