Ammonia as a cleaning agent

Ammonia, a simple chemical compound composed of nitrogen and hydrogen, is a versatile and effective cleaning agent that has been used for generations. While it may not have the glamorous reputation of some modern cleaning products, ammonia’s remarkable cleaning capabilities and diverse applications make it an invaluable asset for households and businesses alike.

Ammonia as cleaning agent

The Power of Ammonia

Ammonia is a colourless gas with a distinctive pungent odour. Its chemical formula, NH3, gives it unique properties that make it an excellent cleaning agent. The key lies in ammonia’s ability to act as a base, meaning it can accept protons and raise the pH of a solution. This basic nature allows ammonia to effectively break down and dissolve a wide range of dirt, grease, and grime.

One of ammonia’s standout features is its ability to cut through tough, stubborn stains and residues. Its alkaline properties enable it to penetrate and dissolve organic compounds, such as food spills, oil, and even dried paint. This makes ammonia a go-to choice for cleaning ovens, stovetops, and other kitchen surfaces where buildup can be a persistent problem.

Beyond its stain-fighting prowess, ammonia also possesses disinfecting properties. The chemical can kill a variety of bacteria, viruses, and mould, making it a valuable tool for sanitizing and maintaining a healthy living environment. This dual cleaning and disinfecting capability is what makes ammonia such a versatile and indispensable cleaning agent.

The Versatility of Ammonia-Based Cleaning

Ammonia’s versatility is perhaps its most impressive attribute. This unassuming compound can be utilized for a vast array of cleaning tasks, from the kitchen to the bathroom and beyond.

In the Kitchen:

Ammonia’s exceptional grease-cutting abilities make it a premier choice for cleaning ovens, stovetops, and cookware. Simply mix a solution of ammonia and water, and let it work its magic on stubborn baked-on food and grime. Ammonia can also be used to clean and deodorize sinks, drains, and garbage disposals, effectively breaking down organic matter and eliminating odours.

In the Bathroom:

Ammonia’s disinfecting properties make it an ideal choice for cleaning and sanitizing bathrooms. It can be used to scrub and disinfect tiles, toilets, tubs, and sinks, leaving surfaces sparkling clean and germ-free. Ammonia-based solutions are also effective at removing soap scum, hard water stains, and mildew, making bathroom cleaning a breeze.

Beyond the Kitchen and Bathroom:

Ammonia’s versatility extends far beyond the kitchen and bathroom. It can be used to clean windows and mirrors, leaving a streak-free shine. Ammonia-based solutions are also effective at removing stubborn stains from carpets, upholstery, and clothing. Additionally, ammonia can be used to clean and degrease automotive parts, making it a valuable tool for home mechanics and DIY enthusiasts.

Ammonia-Based Cleaning Products

While pure ammonia can be a powerful cleaning agent, it is often combined with other ingredients to create specialized cleaning products. These ammonia-based cleaners offer a range of benefits and can be tailored to specific cleaning tasks.

All-Purpose Cleaners:

Ammonia-based all-purpose cleaners are versatile and can be used on a wide variety of surfaces, from countertops to floors. These cleaners typically contain a blend of ammonia, surfactants, and other cleaning agents, making them effective at cutting through grease, grime, and dirt.

Glass and Window Cleaners:

Ammonia’s ability to cut through and remove streaks makes it a popular ingredient in glass and window cleaners. These products leverage ammonia’s cleaning power to leave mirrors, windows, and other glass surfaces sparkling clean and streak-free.

Oven and Stovetop Cleaners:

Ammonia-based oven and stovetop cleaners are specifically formulated to tackle the tough, baked-on residue that can accumulate on these kitchen appliances. The ammonia in these cleaners helps to break down and dissolve even the most stubborn grime, making oven and stovetop cleaning a breeze.

Bathroom Cleaners:

Ammonia-based bathroom cleaners combine the disinfecting and cleaning properties of ammonia with other ingredients to tackle a wide range of bathroom-specific challenges, such as soap scum, hard water stains, and mildew.

The Benefits of Ammonia-Based Cleaning

While ammonia may not be the most glamorous cleaning agent, it offers a range of benefits that make it a valuable asset in any cleaning arsenal.


Ammonia is a relatively inexpensive and widely available chemical, making it a cost-effective cleaning solution for households and businesses. Compared to some specialized cleaning products, ammonia-based cleaners can provide significant cost savings without sacrificing cleaning performance.


As previously discussed, ammonia’s unique chemical properties make it a highly effective cleaning agent, capable of tackling even the toughest stains and residues. Its ability to cut through grease, grime, and organic matter is unparalleled, ensuring that surfaces are left clean.


Ammonia’s versatility is perhaps its greatest strength. This single compound can be used for a vast array of cleaning tasks, from the kitchen to the bathroom and beyond. This versatility means that households and businesses can rely on ammonia-based cleaners to handle a wide range of cleaning needs, reducing the need for a large inventory of specialized products.

Environmental Friendliness:

Ammonia is a naturally occurring compound and is generally considered to be more environmentally friendly than some synthetic cleaning agents. When used and disposed of properly, ammonia-based cleaners can have a lower impact on the environment compared to some harsher, chemical-laden alternatives.

Safety Considerations

While ammonia is a highly effective cleaning agent, it is important to exercise caution when using it. Ammonia can be a respiratory irritant, and prolonged exposure or improper use can be harmful. It is essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and take appropriate safety precautions, such as ensuring proper ventilation and avoiding mixing ammonia-based cleaners with other household chemicals, such as bleach.

It is also worth noting that some individuals may have allergic or sensitive reactions to ammonia-based cleaning products. In such cases, it is advisable to explore alternative cleaning options or to use ammonia-based cleaners with caution and proper personal protective equipment.

Ammonia-Based Cleaning Products Comparison

To help you make an informed decision, here is a comparison of some popular ammonia-based cleaning products:

ProductActive IngredientKey FeaturesPrice Range
Windex Ammonia-Free Glass CleanerSurfactants, SolventsStreak-free shine, Ammonia-free$3-$5 per 32 oz bottle
Clorox Tilex Mold and Mildew RemoverAmmonia, Sodium HypochloriteDisinfects, Removes mold and mildew$4-$8 per 32 oz bottle
Mr. Clean Antibacterial CleanerAmmonia, SurfactantsCuts through grease and grime, Disinfects$3-$6 per 32 oz bottle
Lysol Bathroom Cleaner with AmmoniaAmmonia, SurfactantsRemoves soap scum and hard water stains$3-$6 per 32 oz bottle
Arm & Hammer Super Washing SodaSodium CarbonateBoosts cleaning power of detergents, Deodorizes$3-$6 per 55 oz box


Ammonia, a seemingly humble chemical compound, is a powerhouse when it comes to cleaning. Its unique properties, versatility, and cost-effectiveness make it an invaluable asset for households and businesses alike. From tackling tough grease and grime to disinfecting and sanitizing, ammonia-based cleaning products can handle a wide range of cleaning challenges.

As you navigate the world of cleaning, consider incorporating ammonia-based solutions into your cleaning routine. With proper safety precautions and a little elbow grease, this unassuming compound can transform your living and working spaces, leaving them sparkling clean and fresh. Embrace the power of ammonia and experience the difference it can make in your cleaning regimen.

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As the founder of Clean It Spotless, I am Melissa Walker, a leading expert in removing tough stains from fabrics, carpets, and upholstery. With over 10 years of experience in the cleaning industry, I have developed my own natural, non-toxic stain-fighting formulas that lift stains while preserving the integrity of the underlying material. My stain removal tutorials are widely read online, and I have appeared on local TV segments demonstrating my techniques. I also present popular stain removal workshops at community centers and schools.