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How We Clean Carpets: The Chemistry of Cleaning

How We Clean Carpets: The Chemistry of Cleaning

                                  Published on January 2nd, 2020

Let me make something clear. I am not a fan of science. But as a writer for Electrodry, I’ve had to learn all about the chemistry involved in cleaning.

Chemistry, more specifically the Ph Scale, is a bigger part of your everyday life than you may think and plays a key role in how effectively you’re cleaning your house.

Here are some of the basics (that those who listened in science class have likely known for years).

What is the pH Scale?

Stay with me here. pH stands for ‘potential of hydrogen’ and the scale measures how many hydrogen ions are in a substance. Where that substance sits on the scale determines whether it is acidic, neutral or alkaline.

Here’s a great image of the pH scale.

There are 14 points on the scale, and anything with a low concentration of hydrogen ions is considered acidic (rates 0-6) and a substance with a high concentration of hydrogen ions (8-14) is considered alkaline. A substance that rates a 7 on the scale is neutral.

The pH Scale in Everyday Life

It’s likely you have already used a number of substances throughout your day so far that sit on the scale somewhere. Any water-based substance has a pH rating and includes many foods, drinks, beauty items and yes, cleaning products. To give you a bit of an idea of what is classified as acidic and alkaline in our day-to-day lives, we’ve created this graphic.

Here’s a great image of the pH scale.

Source: saddlespace

Why is the pH Scale Important to My Cleaning Routine?

Despite popular belief, strongly alkaline substances are not necessarily better cleaners. The goal of cleaning is to neutralise the stain’s pH level, so it all depends on the acidity or alkalinity of the soiled area you’re trying to clean. Put simply, acid neutralises alkaline, and alkaline neutralises acid. Here is what you need to know:

An alkaline cleaner generally contains potent bases including potassium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide. It dissolves acidic substances like fats, oils and grease (therefore includes many foods). Think bleach, oven cleaners and multi-purpose sprays such as Ajax.

Acidic cleaners are great at dissolving alkaline substances like mineral deposits or rust, making them great for cleaning many areas of your bathroom. Most toilet and tile cleaners have an acidic pH level.

The diagram below demonstrates where some cleaners sit on the scale.

It also shows why I personally love cleaning with vinegar or bi-carb soda as a natural alternative to stronger products, such as bleach.

Vinegar and bi-carb soda may not be as potent but the scale shows they can still be effective, without using harsh chemicals.

Note: Extremely alkaline (drain cleaner and bleach) or acidic (battery acid) substances are reactive, meaning that they can cause burns.

How does Electrodry use the pH scale?

We get your carpet clean by restoring the pH balance, so we adhere to the acidic cleaner for alkaline stains (and vice-versa) rule too.

Getting that balance right is why it is so important for the technician to know what any carpet stains are and what you have used previously to clean it when you call Electrodry for assistance.

Calling professionals in who understand this delicate balance may be the difference between giving your carpet back its showroom glow or having a permanent stain on your floor that’s impossible to remove.

What Your Professional Carpet Cleaner Knows about Ph levels (and you probably don’t):

Using an extremely high or low pH substance can damage surfaces (vinegar can etch marble surfaces while strong alkaline cleaners can instantly and often irreversibly damage carpet dyes).

A close-to-neutral substance is needed to clean wool or stain resistant fibres.

Carpet dry cleaning uses solvent cleaners to dissolve soil, absorbing it into the solution and lifting it during a conditioning rinse. We use less chemicals and minimal water during this method, reducing drying times and leaving no trace of chemical residues.

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