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1.The Chemistry of Cleaning

Cleaning Product Chemistry

Understanding the how and why of cleaning product chemistry will help eliminate the guesswork when choosing the best solution for your cleaning needs. Although seemingly a simple matter, cleaning involves many variables.
Some can be controlled, others not. For the best result, we need to utilize as many variables as possible. To better understand the chemistry of cleaning products we first need to look at the problem of soil (dirt) and its removal.

What is soil?

Soil can be anything foreign to the basic construction of an item, be it carpet or hard flooring. Examples of soil include: sand, dirt, hair, food spills, oil, urine and a never ending list of possibilities.

Most soil is tracked or brought in on people’s shoes, clothes, boxes, or in their hands. Others are generated as a by-product of some activity taking place on or near the soiled floor type.

Some of these activities include but are not limited to:

  • Spills or cooking grease from the kitchen
  • Soot or dust from a heating or cooling system
  • Pet accidents and hair
  • Food, cleaning products or health and beauty products

Soil found in both residential and commercial settings can be classified as either “dry particulate matter” or as “all other”.

Most soil is considered dry particulate matter. It's categorized as being “solid” and is:

  • gritty or abrasive
  • dust, hair or fibres
  • considered insoluble – they cannot be dissolved in either water or solvent
  • This type of soil is most easily removed by vacuuming

The “all other” type of soil is categorized as being “fluid” and is:

  • fats, oils, grease and tars
  • resins or gums
  • urine and body residues
  • industrial or automotive fumes, soot
  • dyes or pigments
  • considered sticky or to have moisture content
  • this soil type generally needs moisture, chemicals and agitation to be completely removed

This type of soil is mostly acidic by nature. For this reason most cleaning product chemistry is on the alkaline side of the pH scale. Alkaline cleaners neutralize this acid condition to increase soil removal,with acidic cleaners doing the opposite.

  • To clean Alkaline soil use an Acidic cleaner
  • To clean Acidic soil use a Alkaline cleaner