What Product Will Clean This Up?

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Posted by David Ridgway on 08/26/2019

pH examples: assorted chemicals, dish soap, and limeIf you’re trying to decide what product to use to clean something up, learn this rule:

Use a cleaning product that has a pH that is opposite to the pH of the soil you want to clean up.

The pH scale indicates the acidity or alkalinity of a substance. The scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 0 being the most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline. The midpoint on the scale is 7, which is also referred to as “neutral.” When chemicals or substances with opposite pH mix, they are chemically changed and become “neutralized.” (However, you should never mix chemicals together unless you know what you’re doing; the chemical reaction that occurs can sometimes release toxic gases.)

Some kitchen ingredients are measurably acidic (like lemon juice or vinegar) or alkaline (like baking soda). Their pH is the reason they have some cleaning power: when used to clean soil with an opposite pH, they neutralize it, often making it easier to remove.

All cleaning solutions have a pH. Highly acidic or alkaline cleaners are dangerous and can damage the surfaces that they touch. Because of this fact, you should first try a neutral cleaner when you’re attempting to clean something up. Neutral cleaners (products with a pH between 6 and 9) are safe and will not damage the surface. If the neutral cleaner doesn’t work, you should look for a cleaner with a pH that is opposite to the pH of the soil you’re trying to clean up.

Alkaline cleaners are used to clean the following
commonly acidic substances:

· Organic substances
· Dirt
· Grease
· Oils

 

Acidic cleaners are used to clean the following
commonly alkaline substances:

· Rust
· Lime deposits
· Excess concrete
· Mortar
· Inorganic substances

Examples of acidic cleaners:

· Toilet bowl cleaner
· Stone cleaner
· Phosphoric acid
· Lemon juice
· Vinegar

 

Examples of neutral cleaners:

· Dish soap
· All-purpose cleaner
· Floor cleaner

 

Examples of alkaline cleaners:

· Tub and tile cleaner
· Bleach
· Ammonia
· Oven cleaner
· Baking soda

Remember: Be careful when using highly acidic or alkaline cleaners! Follow the relevant safety instructions!

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