dirtex vs. tsp

I pit Dirtex vs. TSP and see which one did better at cleaning. I also go into why you might choose Dirtex in one situation and TSP in another.

Dirtex versus TSP

If you’re wondering just how to get your walls perfectly prepped for painting, this video should answer your questions. If you prefer to read, I’ve written it all out for you below the video. Thank you for watching and reading.

What is the difference between Dirtex and TSP?

So what’s the difference, Dirtex vs. TSP? Let’s get started.

Hey this is Kathleen from oldworldfarmhouse.com and today I am washing my walls to prep them for painting after I’ve taken off all the wallpaper. I thought that I would test two products. I’ve used both. I’ve used both TSP and I’ve used Dirtex to clean walls and other things in prep for painting.

Why would you need to use TSP on walls?

Okay, after you’ve got all the wallpaper off of your walls you have to go back over and wash the walls to prep them for paint, or new paper, either way. You’re going to have some residual glue from the wallpaper and you might have little teeny scraps of the paper that you kind of missed when you went over with your steamer or with the hot water and method.

Either way you’re going to have to go back over the wall, sadly. You need to do it with a nice, heavy-duty cleaner. Which one? And why is one – is one better than the other? TSP or Dirtex? I’ve used both and I sort of have a casual opinion about each one, but I thought that I would test them out and see, like is one really better than the other?

They’re made by the same company. Dirtex is actually a TSP substitute. It’s easier to get Dirtex or Dirtex-like products at your local hardware store or Walmart that you just walk into. if you just walk into those stores you can’t even get TSP on the shelf, at least not where I live. You have to order it. I had to order this from Amazon. So if you don’t plan ahead you know you’re going to be with a TSP substitute, anyway. But let’s see which one’s best.

Is there a difference in how they clean?

Well to be perfectly frank, I think TSP cleans better. But, however, huge however, you have to rinse after you wash with TSP. I have done an entire room, big old room – washed the walls with TSP, and then gone back over and rinsed, and do they get like, clean and ready to take paint like you would not believe? Yes, they do. Did I hate doing that rinse and like, kick myself for using TSP instead of Dirtex? Yes, I did. To be honest, in this room, um, I already know that I am going to use Dirtex come what may.

I – I’m curious to see which performs better, and I’m going to do that test because I think that it’s interesting and informative, and it might help somebody out there out who’s wondering the same thing as me. They both look the same. Dirtex is, um, is kind of orange, and TSP is white. Why, I do not know. On the back of the TSP box it’s a – it’s called, “heavy duty cleaning walls and woodwork” and on the back of the Dirtex box it’s, “painted or varnished surfaces, ceilings floors.”

What are the risks associated with trisodium phosphate?

TSP can be irritating if inhaled. It can cause skin burns.

Runoff from phosphate cleaners causes those huge algae blooms in creeks and ponds, so you don’t want to release TSP into the environment. This data sheet from Fisher Scientific has all of the details.

Also, TSP can damage wood. I left some TSP solution on a floor too long once and it sort of bleached it.

What are the risks associated with Dirtex?

Dirtex can also be irritating if inhaled. Prolonged exposure can burn the skin. There’s no environmental precautions listed on this safety sheet from Savogran company, the manufacturer.

Dirtex can also leave marks on your wood floors, if you’re not careful, but in my experience it’s not as bad as the marks from TSP.

Should I use TSP powder or liquid?

I have only used it in powder form. It’s very easy to mix and is cheaper to buy in powder. You can control the strength of your solution if you mix it yourself. I guess liquid TSP would be more convenient as you wouldn’t have the hassles of measuring and mixing.

How to Make Dirtex Solution

Okay, I put this tape here and I’m going to wash this side with Dirtex, this side with TSP. I’m measuring out the Dirtex. I’ve got one tablespoon. I’m going to dump it in my bucket, and two. I’ve got this in the bottom of the bucket. I’m going to run over to the bathroom and fill this up with hot water to the gallon mark on the bucket, and I’ll be right back.

How to Make TSP Solution

TSP is much finer than the Dirtex. The Dirtex is very coarse, almost like kosher salt, and this is more like table salt, and it’s white. So TSP, I’m gonna do three tablespoons, one and three.

All right, we’re gonna just go run and fill up these buckets. This is the Dirtex mixed with one gallon of water. It’s yellow. And here’s the TSP mixed with one gallon of water, three tablespoons TSP. It’s just – it’s white. You can’t really even see it once it’s dissolved in the water. I’m going to scrub one side of my wall with Dirtex and the other with TSP and then we’ll do a comparison.

So, are the trisodium phosphate substitutes on the market as good as the real thing?

Here’s the Dirtex side of the wall. It’s dry now, and it feels – it feels good. It’s a little sticky here. I think that’s where there’s still wallpaper glue that didn’t quite come off. Okay, but on most spots it feels dry and like it’s ready to take paint or plaster – you know, joint compound.

Here is the TSP side and it feels about the same, dry, ready for paint. There’s some sticky spots I can feel with my fingers where I need to scrub more at the wallpaper paste that’s stubbornly sticking to the wall.

TSP is made by the same company that makes Dirtex, Savogran out in Massachusetts, Norwood, Massachusetts. The difference in the descriptions on the packaging, overall, TSP sounds like a more heavy duty cleaner that can do more and cut through more dirt than Dirtex.

For example, the first line on the back says, “formulated for heavy-duty cleaning, removes greasy, sooty, dirt and prepares painted surfaces for repainting.” I think if I were trying to degrease kitchen cabinets before painting, I would choose TSP. If I was trying to clean soot stains, greasy dirt, greasy grime, I’d choose TSP.

And then the first line on the back of the Dirtex box says, “a general purpose quick dissolving powder cleaner for use on every washable surface in home, office, shop. Recommended for cleaning walls, floors, and woodwork and for preparing painted surfaces for refinishing.” So it just ,you know, even the way to describe it, it’s like this is a great strong cleaner for stuff that gets dirty, and this is like, “greasy,” you know, something that’s a little more intense, even, and then of course the other big thing for me, the huge one, is TSP. You have to rinse it after, according to the directions. I mean, I guess you could skip it, but the directions say to rinse, and I’d be afraid not to. And then Dirtex specifically says, “leaves surface clean without rinsing,” which is like, awesome if you’re feeling crunched for time, which is all of us, right?

Both TSP and Dirtex are Heavy Duty Cleaners

My walls, they both did a good job cleaning. I’m happy with both of them as a a way to prep the wall for painting. If I could skip washing walls altogether, of course, I would. But when you’ve got, when you’ve taken wallpaper off, it’s really important to go back. There’s always little bits of paper and there’s always like, this glue residue, even with the steamer there’s glue residue, quite a bit, in fact.

TSP Neutralizes Lead Paint Dust

The other thing, which I will get into in another video, I would like to share with you all my experiences with lead paint. if you have an old house you are probably sooner or later going to have some kind of experience with lead paint. We’ve had quite a few in our house, and we’ve had to do a lot of remediation. If you are in some kind of situation where you’re getting a lot of lead paint dust in your house, and you can’t immediately fix the root cause, TSP is great for dissolving lead dust. It actually – whatever it is in the lead that’s harmful to us humans, it binds with it and neutralizes it. It is a great thing if you need to be wiping down your windowsills and floors because you’ve got lead dust in your house. This is what you want.

Dirtex Does Not Neutralize Lead Paint Dust

The Dirtex does not make any mention of being able to neutralize lead paint dust, like here it says, “effectively controls lead paint dust.” This says, “effectively controls,” but I’ve read other places that that’s what it does. It just neutralizes it. So that’s great, and then the Dirtex does not mention lead dust at all, so if you are worried about lead dust, and you’re washing paint work, I would go with the TSP for sure.

Dirtex is Better Because You Don’t have to Rinse

Otherwise, like this, I’m just doing these bare walls; they don’t have paint on them; there’s miles of them, it feels like. I’m gonna go with the Dirtex. You don’t have to rinse it. It’s a very strong effective cleaner. It’s cheap and it’s good. TSP and Dirtex.

I hope that this helped you make a decision if you’re wondering about TSP versus Dirtex.

TL;DR, Dirtex vs TSP

The TL;DR is, Dirtex you don’t have to rinse it. It’s very powerful. TSP is a little more powerful. You do have to rinse it and be a little more careful with it. It’ll leave marks on your floors, that kind of thing, more readily than Dirtex. I say that from personal experience. Also, if you have a lead paint dust issue you definitely want to use the TSP.

More on Prepping Walls for Painting

If you’re getting rid of old nasty wallpaper, check out my posts and videos on How Hard Is It To Steam Off Wallpaper? and How to Strip Wallpaper with Three Simple Tools.