Have you ever thought about the pH level of the cleaning substances you use at home or those employed by professionals for sofa cleaning and other types of furniture cleaning? Knowing the pH of cleaning products is useful for multiple reasons: you can take precautions to avoid skin and eye irritation, you can choose the right cleaning solution for the type of stain or dirt you are trying to remove, and you can match the type of fibers you are cleaning with the right cleaning solution to avoid damage.
Keep on reading to find out the most important things you should know about the pH of cleaning products.
What is pH?
pH is a quantitative measure of the acidity or basicity of a liquid solution; it consists of the values of the concentration of the hydrogen ion, which ranges between 0 and 14 (pH stands for “potential hydrogen”). Pure water is neutral and has a pH of 7 – meaning that water is neither acidic nor alkaline.
How can you measure pH?
There are multiple methods for determining the pH of a solution: a pH meter using a pH-sensitive electrode and a reference electrode, litmus paper and pH paper which give quick but less precise measurements, and reagents added to vials to produce a pH-dependent color change.
If you want to find out the pH of the home cleaning solution you can check the product’s label, especially if it is an EPA Safer Choice product. Cleaning solutions that are included in this program must have a pH value greater than or equal to 2 and less than or equal to 11.5 to reduce the potential for skin and eye irritation. For instance, some of the best carpet cleaning chemicals are found on the Jonson website, and the pH of each item is mentioned in the product description.
What pH levels do cleaning chemicals have?
Cleaning solutions such as dish soap and cleaner shampoo have different pH levels, depending on what needs to be cleaned. Because strong acids and bases can affect dyes, a safe cleaning solution should be powerful enough to clean a surface or a fabric without causing discoloration. You should choose the pH of the cleaning solution based on what you need to clean and the type of fibers you are treating. Here are the most common household supplies and their pH levels:
- Bleach: pH 11-13. The high level of alkalinity makes it corrosive and ventilation needs to be ensured when using bleach. It is used to eliminate stains and whiten but is safe on a limited number of fabrics.
- Ammonia: pH 11-13. This corrosive substance should not be mixed with other cleaning supplies and ingredients.
- Baking soda: pH 8-10. It is less corrosive than ammonia and bleach and is used to break down organics such as oil and dirt.
- Descaler: pH 0,5-2. Also called limescale remover, this highly acidic solution is used to clean hard water deposits and soap buildup.
The most effective cleaning products are found at either end of the pH scale. If the substance you want to remove is acidic, you will use an alkaline cleaning product. If the substance you want to remove is alkaline, you need an acid cleaning product. Bringing the substance to a neutral pH helps with stain and dirt removal.
When should you use high pH cleaning products?
Alkaline cleaners, such as bleach, ammonia, and soap are used to dissolve fats, oils, and proteins. Alkaline chemicals, like those found in mattress cleaner solutions, break down fats and oils and make them easier to eliminate from fabrics. The most corrosive alkaline products, such as bleach and drain cleaners, can only be used on hard surfaces or on a limited range of fabrics.
The best upholstery cleaning products are alkaline because the type of dirt and residue found in furniture and carpets is mostly oils or grease, which are easily broken down by high pH chemicals.
When you use high PH cleaning you need to do a rinse that balances the pH so the fibers don’t turn out stiff. Carpet cleaners used by any rug cleaner in NYC are slightly alkaline and can leave carpets sticky once the moisture evaporates. The rug cleaner will rinse the carpets with a neutralizer and water to even out the pH balance.
When should you use low pH cleaning products?
Acidic cleaners are mostly found in bathroom cleaners because they remove hard water deposits and soap buildup. Cleaning solutions with a low PH are less commonly found in products dedicated to area rugs cleaning and other types of carpet cleaning. They are generally used on small surfaces, mostly for cleaning rust stains (rust stain remover, vinegar, lemon juice).
When should you use neutral pH cleaning products?
Neutral pH cleaning products are mild cleaning substances and are less dangerous and toxic. However, they are less effective than acidic and alkaline cleaners. A substance with a neutral pH is not able to neutralize the impact of acidic or alkaline ions in a stain. Neutral pH substances are recommended for the most delicate fibers and for light stains.
Choosing the cleaning substance with the right pH level depends on the kind of dirt you want to eliminate and the type of fibers you are treating. At PristineGreen Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning we have trained and experienced staff who is able to choose the right cleaning solution, striking a perfect balance between safety and efficiency.