Helping customers to stay ahead

Companies manufacturing and selling cleaning products are being challenged to develop cleaners that pose no risk to people or the environment. A key challenge is finding replacements for phosphates. Chelates (also known as chelants or sequestering agents) have emerged as an effective, sustainable alternative.

High levels of metal ions such as calcium and magnesium in hard water have a powerful influence on chemical processes and the performance of many products. Removing metal ions is therefore a key part of many industrial and domestic processes that use water. For example, if these ions are not removed from your dishwasher, insoluble deposits build up inside your washer, leading to dirtier dishes.

For many years, metal ions were removed by adding phosphates to detergents. However, the phosphorus in phosphates serves as a nutrient, and the deposition of large quantities of phosphates in lakes and waterways induces excessive growth of plants and algae. This excessive growth depletes oxygen and endangers other aquatic life. As a result, phosphates have been phased out around the world.

This banning of phosphates has resulted in demand for suitable replacements that are biodegradable and offer equivalent or better performance. Chelates have emerged as an effective and sustainable replacement, reducing regulatory pressure without compromising on performance.

Essential ingredients for cleaning products

Chelates have a unique property: they can form soluble complexes with metal ions. Named after the Greek word for ‘crab's claw,’ they can hold on to metal ions like zinc, manganese, and copper and release them when needed.
In reverse mode, they can capture and transport the ions away from areas where they are not needed. This enables them to remove dirt and scale, soften water, and boost cleaning action, making them essential ingredients for cleaning products

Strong, sustainable chelates for a range of applications

Among the best replacements for phosphates in cleaning products are the chelates tetrasodium glutamate diacetate and trisodium methylglycine diacetate. Our Dissolvine GL and Dissolvine M chelates can replace phosphates in most cleaning applications and they outperform alternatives like citrates, gluconates, and zeolites because they form stronger bonds with metal ions.

Dissolvine GL and Dissolvine M combine excellent performance with a superior ecological profile, since they are readily biodegradable. Dissolvine GL is the eco-friendliest and strongest chelate in our range and is ideal for liquid applications because of its high solubility. Because it can be highly concentrated, Dissolvine GL has enabled our customers to make products more compact and create value propositions that didn’t exist before.


Proven performance from traditional chelates

In addition to our range of readily biodegradable chelating agents, our product portfolio contains numerous solutions capable of sequestering metal ions. These chelates are often referred to as “traditional chelating agents” because they were originally developed 50 years ago or more.

These products — such as EDTA, HEDTA, PDTA and DTPA — remain in our portfolio thanks to their cost-efficient performance. These chelates can be a solid (amorphous powder), a crystal or an aqueous solution. They can be made available as sodium, potassium or ammoniums salt, or in acid form.

Reference our Dissolvine chelates product guide for more information.

Helping customers stay ahead of competitors and regulations

Customers are increasingly looking to use 100% green carbon, maintain performance, and be readily biodegradable. Our researchers are continually searching for new insights which will help our customers stay ahead of the competition.

Some recent examples:

  • Together with specialty polymers company Itaconix, we are developing several applications for the household and industrial cleaning market using their bio-based polymers, which are obtained from sugars through fermentation.
  • We have worked with Shanghai Hutchison Whitecat to replace conventional chelates with liquid chelates in their industrial tableware cleaning products, in line with the green upgrade taking place in the cleaning industry in China.
  • Collaborating with Chinese firm Anhui Huaheng Biotechnology, a leading producer of building blocks for chelates, we aim to build a full green value chain and enhance the use of greener chelates in formulations for various applications.


Our goal is to leverage our products, expertise and service to help customers transition their portfolios over to greener raw materials. Replacing traditional products with more sustainable alternatives made with chelates can have a global environmental impact.

Downloads - chelates in cleaning

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