January 4, 2023

Sinner’s Circle: The 4 factors of cleaning

Cleaning has always been a complex process. It requires the use of four different principles – chemical, heat, mechanical power, and time – to achieve the desired results. 

When these principles are used together in harmony, we get what is known as the sinners circle in cleaning. Let’s take a look at what this concept is and how it can help you achieve better cleaning results. 

What is Sinner’s circle?

Sinner’s Circle was founded in the year 1959 by Herbert Sinner. It takes the four principles of cleaning: chemical, heat, mechanical power, and time, and shows how they interact with one another.

It’s called “sinners” because each action taken can be viewed as a sin against one or more of these principles – but when done right, they work together to give you ideal results. 

For example, when using chemicals, you must be careful not to use too much or too little as it can lead to problems; likewise with heat – if temperature gets too high or low, it won’t be effective for cleaning purposes.

The same principle applies to mechanical power and time – if either is used incorrectly or too aggressively/for too long/etc., then it won’t be effective either. 

But when used properly in tandem with one another (or even just two of them), they create an effective system that amplifies the desired result. 

In fact, a good rule of thumb is that if one action isn’t working well enough on its own (e.g., using only chemicals), then adding another principle into the mix should give you better results (e.g., using chemicals plus heat).

sinner circle 1
Each section broken down
  1. Chemical – Chemical is the cleaning detergent employed for the job. There are many various kinds designed for different tasks and surface types. They can be mild or aggressive with a high concentrate. The kind of detergent used and how much, is to be considered.
  2. Heat – When heat is applied, it will have an impact on the effectiveness of the cleaning solution as hot water speeds up the activation process. It helps to loosen soils, making it easier to remove them from a surface, reducing the amount of time required and mechanical power.
  3. Mechanical Power – This refers to the amount of pressure that is applied whilst cleaning to remove soils, either by a machine, i.e., a dishwasher, or by an operative. Also known as agitation, it can serve as a scrubbing action that is employed by the operative
  4. Time – This is the amount of time that the remaining three factors are exposed to a surface and how much time is taken to complete the task. Exposure time can reduce the other three factors. Take, for example, some dishware with bits of food that are particularly stubborn and won’t come away despite applying heat, chemical and mechanical power. However, if left to soak in a cleaning chemical and hot water, time will do the work so that when you return to the task, it is much easier to accomplish. This is because given enough time, less chemical, heat, and mechanical power is needed.

Why is Sinner’s circle important?

Sinner’s Circle can help determine if the cleaning processes you’re employing in your facility are effective and economic.

It is best represented as a pie chart, like the example depicted below.

As stated above, Increasing the level of heat reduces the amount of time required for a task as heat increases the energy in water molecules, which acts faster when breaking down dirt.

So, as you can see, the four factors must always be in proportion to one another to fit within the circle.

As the portion for heat is increased, the factor of time is reduced.

This approach is beneficial as it prevents any unnecessary time, energy or chemical usage being wasted in the cleaning process. It ensures you are not using up precious resources by overcompensating on factors for a task where less is required of them.

sinner circle 2

How can you use Sinner’s circle?

One way to use the sinners circle is by understanding how each principle works together and adjusting your approach accordingly.

For instance, if you want to clean something particularly difficult (such as grease or grime on a surface), then you may need to increase both the chemical concentration and temperature (to break down tougher molecules) while also increasing mechanical power (to scrub away stubborn residue).

Additionally, extending cleaning times allows for all four principles to work together for longer periods of time so that dirt and debris can be effectively removed from surfaces without causing damage or requiring multiple rounds of treatments.



To summarise, Sinner’s circle takes all four principles of cleaning: Chemical, heat, mechanical power, and time, and looks at how each factor fits within the cleaning process and how they interact with each other. 

Adhering to the circle ensures that all factors’ ratios are balanced so that the process being implemented is both effective and presents the best economical return by eliminating any risk of waste.

It illustrates how powerful these four principles are when used together correctly. By understanding how they interact and adjust your approach accordingly when needed, you can ensure that your cleaning procedures are efficient and effective regardless of what type of messes need tackling!

Facilities Managers and Cleaning Managers alike should understand this concept thoroughly so that their teams have access to powerful tools for achieving great results every time they clean.

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Sinner’s Circle: The 4 factors of cleaning