How the PH scale can effect cleaning:
When chemicals are dissolved in water, the mixture can become either acidic or basic (alkaline). The scale goes from 0 to 14 a pH of 7.0, pure water is neutral. Vinegar and lemon juice are acidic substances, while laundry detergent and ammonia are basic.
Acid and basic are two extremes that describe the property of a chemical, such as how hot and cold are used to describe the two extremes of temperature. pH (potential of hydrogen) is the measurement of acidity or alkalinity of a substance when dissolved in water. Just as degrees are used to measure precise temperature, it is the measurement of acidity or alkalinity. Mixing acids and bases can cancel out their extreme effects, much like mixing hot and cold water can "even out" water temperature. Have you ever used baking soda on a build up of battery terminals on your cars battery? Battery acid is a 2 on the pH scale, and baking soda is a 9, so, 9 – 2 = 7 or neutral.The pH scale is logarithmic. In other words, each number is 10 times more powerful or less powerful than the next 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.
Buffer solutions are equilibrium systems that resist changes in pH upon addition of an acid or alkaline. In the cleaning industry, the term "buffer" is generally used to describe cleaning products that resist change in pH when diluting with water. pH cleaning factors.
Protein fibers such as wool and silk will tolerate the absorption of a limited amount of mild acid, and cellulose will tolerate a certain degree of alkalinity; however, strong acids and alkalis can destroy both. Strong acids and alkalis can also adversely affect dyes. What is most important is to maintain a pH level that effectively cleans the surface, without damaging dyes or fibers. Olefin fibers can withstand a high degree of alkalinity. Solution dyed nylon, polyester and acrylic fibers can tolerate moderate alkalinity. Stain resistant nylon, wool and silk are more sensitive to alkalinity and should be cleaned in the neutral pH range.
The cleaning solutions pH value can have a direct effect on cleaning effectiveness. Each detergent formulation has maximum effectiveness at a specific pH value. For example, an acid solution is needed to remove metal oxide, such as rust, and an alkaline solution may be needed to clean a heavily soiled, solution-dyed olefin carpet in a rental unit. A close to neutral pH is needed to clean wool, silk or stain resistant fibers. Most cleaning chemicals are alkaline in nature, since hydrolysis and dispersion of soils typically occurs at alkaline pH levels. Other factors, such as time, agitation and temperature play essential roles in the cleaning process. (See our up coming article on “The Cleaning Pie”)
Although more detergency is achieved with longer times, more agitation and higher temperatures, this should be balanced against the damage these higher factors will do to the carpet or fiber.The higher the pH, the more corrosive the cleaner and the more damage it will do to pH sensitive fibers and dyes; hot temperatures employed in steam cleaning, together with higher alkalinity, can increase the effects. Alkaline cleaners work best when soil can be hydrolyzed, such as kitchen grease containing natural oils and fats, natural greases, body oils and some proteins. If an attempt is made to lower or raise the pH (by using an acid or alkali) of the cleaning chemical without knowing the chemistry of a formulated product, the result can be counterproductive.There could be ingredients in the product that only work at a particular pH, but may drop out, be rendered ineffective or may even hinder the cleaning. The carpet or upholstery to be cleaned should be cleaned at the appropriate pH level that does not harm the fiber or the finishes.If an alkaline product inadvertently is employed in cleaning wool or silk, the alkalinity must be immediately neutralized with a mild acid solution, such as a tribasic organic acid, which has three times the neutralizing ability of an alkali as compared to a monobasic acid. Moreover, being a mild acid, the chance of leaving the carpet or upholstery highly acidic is non-existent.
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Ultra Carpet Care, Professional Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning (417) 459-1971