We have all heard about pH but how many actually know what it means and why is it so important? In reality, this is one of the essential characteristics of every cleaning product from the simple hand soap to your trusted multipurpose detergent. With the help of our Reading expert, we will examine pH and explain why you should always read the labels of the chemicals you buy.
What Is pH
pH is a measure of the acidity (alkalinity) of a particular chemical when mixed with water. Its full name is potential hydrogen. You need to be mindful of the following:
- pH = 0 – this solution has a high concentration of hydrogen ions which means it’s very acidic
- pH = 7 – this solution is called neutral as it has an equal concentration of hydrogen and hydroxy ions, similar to water
- pH = 14 – this is an alkaline solution, one with a high concentration of hydroxy ions
It is important to note that both ends of the scale are dangerous for human health. Acidic chemicals are corrosive and can practically dissolve the flesh from your bones. Whereas highly alkaline solutions are quite toxic.
pH in Cleaning Products
Depending on their purpose cleaning solvents can be found at either end of the scale. The bigger the pH, the more corrosive the cleaner will be. For example, bleach and oven degreasers are highly alkaline. On the other hand, we use a lot of acids in our everyday cleaning routine like white vinegar or lemon juice.
There is a very simple rule that if you remember you will be able to remove almost all stains from your Reading home:
If the substance you need to clean is with a higher pH, you need to use an acidic cleaner. And vice versa, of the substance is acidic, you clean it with an alkaline detergent.
The idea behind it is that both will bring the stain to a neutral pH which will help to remove it.
Take Some Safety Precautions
Remember, the most effective products are usually the ones with very high or very low pH, which inevitably makes them dangerous both for your health and belongings. Do not take this warning lightly, as a lot of things can go wrong:
- If the reaction is too strong, the surfaces on which they are applied can de seriously damaged.
- In some cases, toxic fumes can be released in the air and cause pulmonary problems and burns.
- One of the most frequent backlashes is suffered by the skin of your hand and face as it can be chemically burned or get severely irritated. The same goes for your eyes.
What can you do to protect yourself? Well, our Reading cleaning professionals advise to always wear protective gear like gloves, mask and even goggles. You need to be very careful when handling different solvents and always read their labels. This will prevent the mixing of chemicals that don’t go well together. There is always the option to use cleaning product with more neutral pH, however, keep in mind that in general, these detergents are not as strong and effective as the others.
Types of Cleaning Products
Before purchasing a cleaning product, you need to answer two questions – what is the surface you want to clean and what type of stain you want to remove. Once you know those two it will be fairly easy to pick the right solvent.
- Acidic cleaners – These solvents are mostly used in bathrooms and toilets to remove calcium buildup and scaly deposits. White vinegar and lemon juice are also a preferred safe alternative.
- Neutral cleaners – A chemical solution must have a pH level between 5 and 9 to be called neutral. These products are known to be “safe” and less toxic than the other two. A popular substance with neutral pH used as a household cleaner is the baking soda.
- Alkaline cleaners – These cleaners are perfect for dissolving soils that are based on fats, oils and proteins. They will break them and make them easier to remove. Some of the well-known alkaline cleaners include ammonia, sodium carbonate (known as soda ash or washing soda) and sodium hydroxide (also called lye).