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Fundamentals of Soil Suspension.
Temperature, Agitation, Chemical Action & Time (T.A.C.T.)

The most significant principle in cleaning is soil suspension. This involves separating soil from whatever needs to be cleaned so that it can be removed.

Four fundamentals which determine cleaning efficiency are:

  1. temperature
  2. agitation
  3. chemical action
  4. time

To help remember these fundamentals use the acronym T.A.C.T. 

The suspension of soil fundamentals are illustrated as a pie with each T.A.C.T. fundamental being of equal size.

The size of the overall pie is directly related to cleaning efficiency. In our pie chart, all 4 slices contribute equally for maximum cleaning efficiency.

However, in the real world:

  • The size of each pie slice varies from cleaning method to cleaning method.
  • If you decrease one of the fundamentals you must compensate and increase another fundamental to keep the overall pie (cleaning efficiency) as large as possible.

For instance: If you decrease the temperature fundamental, you must compensate this imbalance by increasing any of the other three fundamentals (the amount of agitation, the amount of chemical action, or the length of time).

The reverse also holds true. If any one of the four fundamentals is increased, a decrease of another fundamental is needed to compensate for the imbalance.

How do the T.A.C.T. fundamentals apply to soil suspension of cleaning products?


  • cleaning efficiency increases as the temperature increases
  • heat makes molecules move faster, and therefore clean more quickly
  • generally, hotter is better, however, temperature should be adjusted according to the cleaning situation


  • commonly known as scrubbing
  • achieved through a brush and physical action, water pressure or mechanically assisted brushes
  • helps distribute cleaning agents for maximum soil suspension and removal

Chemical Action:

  • the process whereby the cleaning solution dissolves, emulsifies or loosens the soil particles
  • broadly classified as natural or synthetic
  • related to the level of alkalinity or acidity (pH factor) of a water based cleaning solution


  • a measure of seconds, minutes or hours for the other three T.A.C.T fundamentals to interact for optimum efficiency
  • can be minimized with the proper use and understanding of the other three T.A.C.T. fundamentals

All cleaning systems utilizing a "wet" cleaning process have some combination of the T.A.C.T. fundamentals of soil suspension.

To use a cold cleaning solution would require an increase in agitation, chemical action and or time, (the temperature pie slice has been decreased).

To use a cleaning solution without any agitation would require an increase in cleaning solution temperature, a stronger cleaning chemical and or more time, (the agitation pie slice has been decreased).

To use a water only cleaning solution would require an increase in cleaning solution temperature, more agitation and or more time to remove soil, (the chemical action pie slice has been decreased).

To minimize time to perform a cleaning task would require an increase in cleaning solution temperature, more agitation, and or a stronger cleaning product, (the time pie slice has been decreased).

To maximize the suspension of soil, each T.A.C.T. fundamental needs to be increased as much as possible without incurring adverse reactions or side effects.

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  • Matthew Smith
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