Although a chemist can get quite technical about pH,
the practical side of the subject is quite simple. The pH measurement of values indicates
the intensity or degree of acidity or alkalinity of a product in
solution. The amount or quantity of the product in the solution is not
measured. pH applies only to products containing water or diluted with water.
It can be considered as a scale, similar to a thermometer scale, ranging from 0 to 14,
with the number 7 as the middle or neutral point. Solutions which are alkaline have
a pH of higher than 7.0 and those which are acid have a pH of below 7.0. The further
one progresses away from 7.0 the more acid or alkaline the solution becomes.
pH of Common Items:
14 Caustic Soda
7 Neutral Detergents, Distilled Water
10 Bar Soap
The pH scale is a logrithmic one which means that a change of 1.0 pH up or down from 7
(such as 11 to 12 or 4 to 3) is actually ten (10) times stronger in intensity than the one
closer to neutral. Therefore a material with a pH of 10 is 1,000 times more alkaline
than a solution with a pH of 7, while a material with a pH of 14 is 10,000,000 time more
alkaline than a solution with a pH of 7.
Use neutral cleaners for daily cleaning of finished floors.
The closer to neutral the pH of the cleaner, the less they attack the floor finish.
Strong alkaline materials should not be used for daily floor maintenance since they
attack of most types of floor finishes. When used on asphalt tile, strong alkalies
bleach out the colors and may gradually attack the adhesive used in laying the
tiles. Strong alkalies also attack rubber flooring, causing it to lose resiliency,
harden and crack.
The effects of pH on the different surfaces to be cleaned should be
considered in any cleaning procedure.
The reason most cleaning agents are made on the alkaline side is
because most soils are on the acid side of the pH scale. The alkali reacts with the
acid to help remove the soil. It is interesting to note that most of the word
"soil" is "oil" -- perhaps that is the way the word came to be
used. Oils, waxes, fats and greases are acidic and they are present in practically
all soils that require the help of cleaning agents for removal. Clay, sand and
carbon would be relatively easy to wash away if body oils, waxes, cooking oils, or fats
and lubricating oils or grease were not also present on the skin, clothes, machinery,
floor or other surfaces.
Acid cleaning agents are most desirable when the soil is on the
alkaline side. Common occurrences of alkaline type soils are hard water spots and
hard water scale in toilet bowls. The magnesium, calcium or aluminum salts that make
up the hardness in water are alkaline. Iron stains also require an acid cleaner.