Cillit Bang cleaning agentIngredients
  • Aqua (water)
  • Sulfamic acid
  • Phosphoric acid
  • C9-11 pareth-6
  • Parfum
  • Colorant

Published August 2010

This is a popular household surface cleaner that is highly effective even at cleaning metals.


Sulfamic acid (aka sulphamic acid, chemical formula HSO3NH2) is a strong acid but unlike many common acids it is a white crystalline solid so is easy to transport and store. It is included in Cillit Bang because it is good at cleaning metals as well as dissolving limescale. Sulfamic acid is used on a large scale by industry for the same reasons, but more importantly it is involved in manufacturing dyes and pharmaceuticals such as antibiotics and anti-cancer drugs. Sulfamic acid is added to household products such as toilet cleaners, and it is a component of the effervescent tablets that are used to clean false teeth.

Phosphoric acid (chemical formula H3PO4, food additive E338) is a widely used industrial chemical whose main outlet is the manufacture of fertilizers and water softeners. It is particularly useful at cleaning metals and some Cillit Bang adverts demonstrate this by shining up an old coin.

Phosphoric acid is widely used in industry for cleaning metal surfaces. It can also be bought in DIY products, generally in the form of a gel, used to remove rust, which it does very efficiently. It is the standard pre-treatment applied to any iron object before it is painted. The phosphoric acid reacts with the rust to form iron phosphate which can be washed off leaving a clean surface. This is protected from further rusting by a residual film of iron phosphate.

Phosphoric acid is also used as an ingredient in colas like Coca Cola to provide the refreshing taste we associate with such drinks. The reason for including it is that by itself it is tasteless and so does not interfere with the other flavour molecules in these drinks. Whenever it is necessary to adjust the pH of a product then phosphoric acid is generally regarded as one of the safest acids to use, and it even finds its way into skin-care products.

C9-11 Pareth-6 consists of a molecular chain with nine, ten, or eleven carbon atoms to which is attached a chain of six interlinked ethylene oxide (CH2CH2O) molecules. It is a powerful surfactant, yet safe enough to be used in skin care products. This is the ingredient that removes grease and grime. C9-11 pareth-6 is strong enough to remove the sticky traffic grime from cars and lorries and will even clean the gunge off garage forecourts.

Parfum: although this is not specified, the major component appears to be limonene which has the citrus scent of lemons and oranges. This a hydrocarbon (chemical formula C10H16) and is one of the group of molecules know as cyclic terpenes. It is present in the peel of oranges and lemons and is extracted commercially from orange peel zest.