Updated: Nov 29, 2020
Ph plays a very important role in cleaning. Different ph values will clean specific types of soils. To effectively clean a certain soil you will need to neutralise it. For example, fats and oils are acidic so will require an alkaline to break the matter down and make it easier to remove from a surface. Alkaline soils, such as limescale, in turn will require an acidic product to break it down.
What is the ph scale?
The ph scale is used to specify how acidic or alkaline a water based product is. You may remember from school, testing liquids with ph stip paper, I still do this today. When a chemical is dissolved in water, the mixtures ph will change to become more acidic, more alkaline or neutral.
Unlike the temperature scale, the pH scale is logarithmic. In other words, each number is 10 times more powerful or less powerful than the next, or preceding, number. The pH of 8 is 10 times more alkaline than the pH of 7, and the pH of 9 is 100 times more alkaline than the pH of 7, and so on.
PH Of Cleaning Products
These cleaners have a pH between 6-8 and are usually meant for daily cleaning of surfaces with light soil or small particles. They are ideal for delicate surfaces such as marble and wood.
These cleaners have a pH between below 7 and are used for cleaning soils, resulting from mineral deposits, i.e. hard water exposure, and are best used on non organic particles.
These cleaners have a pH above 7 and are used for cleaning soils that are oily or greasy and best at removing organic compounds. Most common stains and soils are acidic, and thus the majority of cleaning products are formulated to be alkaline.
Point's To Remember
What is important to remember about cleaning is that at its most elementary level, it is an attempt to neutralise the impact of acidic or alkaline ions in a stain or soiling. So if you wish to clean a soil that is acidic, you should use an alkaline cleaning product, and vice-versa.
Both acids and alkali's have the capability of being corrosive, although one would have a pH range of 0 (acid), while the other would range in the area of 14 (alkali). Sodium hydroxide, a very strong and corrosive alkali would have the same damaging effect on human tissue as sulfuric acid.
Strong alkaline and acidic products will cause corrosion over time. If using a stronger product make sure you rinse it away.
Always test cleaning products in an inconspicuous area first, even if you are sure of the material you are cleaning.