Reverse Osmosis Cleaning Chemicals

The following chart lists common reverse osmosis (RO) cleaning chemical solutions as provided by various membrane manufacturers.   Please note that these formulations are intended to be general guidelines and not specific recommendations for compatible chemical cleaning solutions for a given RO. I have not taken your specific requirements into consideration. Please use this information at your own risk. Improper use of these chemicals can cause irreversible damage to the membranes and associated materials of construction. No guarantees or warranties are intended or implied.

A majority of cleaning protocols are not successful in restoring membrane performance to like-new condition.  Replacement of the reverse osmosis membranes is frequently required as the membranes become irreversibly fouled. Experience and common sense are the best guide in these situations.

Chemical Cleaning Solution


Alkaline chelating solution

0.1% by weight caustic soda (NaOH)

0.1% by weight sodium EDTA (chelant)

High pH 12

Best for biofilms

Effective on silica and organics

Alkaline surfactant solution (detergent)

0.1% by weight caustic soda (NaOH)

0.1% by weight sodium dodecylsulfate

High pH 12

Good for biofilms

Effective on organics and inorganic colloids

Chelating phosphate solution

1.0% by weight sodium EDTA (chelant)

1.0% by weight trisodium phosphate (TSP)

1.0% by weight sodium tripolyphosphate (STP)

Good for biofilms and other organics

Hydrochloric acid cleaner

0.5% by volume hydrochloric acid (HCl)

Low pH cleaner

Best for inorganic scale removal

Phosphoric acid cleaner

0.5% by volume phosphoric acid (H3PO4)

Low pH cleaner

Good for metal oxides and inorganic scale removal

Sulfamic acid cleaner

0.2% by weight sulfamic acid (NH2SO3H)

Low pH cleaner

Works on inorganic scales, iron and inorganic colloids

Citric acid cleaner

2.0% by weight citric acid

Low pH cleaner

Food grade

Works on inorganic scales and iron

Sodium hydrosulfite cleaner

2 to 4% by weight sodium hydrosulfite (Na2S2O4)

Strong reducing agent

Good for metal oxide removal like iron


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