An expert-like approach to cleaning of carpets can be tracked down to the quality of carpet cleaner suitable for use. |
While the actual ingredients included in a carpet cleaning solution are important, understanding the pH of the product and what it means can be even more critical. In fact, knowledge of pH is essential to carpet cleaning technicians, allowing them to select the best product for the types of stains and cleaning problems they encounter.
For our understanding in the professional cleaning industry, pH is used to refer to the relative acidity or alkalinity of a water-based solution.
The pH of carpet cleaning
When cleaning acidic soils, which are the most common type of soils, it is recommended to use an alkaline detergent.And, to eliminate alkaline-type soils, use a cleaning solution on the acidic side of the scale, typically with a pH of 2 to 5.
According to the IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification), for general carpet cleaning that is moderately-soiled and made from synthetic fibers, such as those in a residential setting, an alkaline cleaner with a pH around or under 10 might work best.
However, carpet cleaning technicians working in a busy restaurant, for instance, where the carpet may be heavily-soiled may require a product with a higher alkaline pH concentration of 12 to clean a synthetic carpet. But, these technicians must ensure that using chemicals with this level of alkalinity does not void the carpet manufacturer's warranty.
When cleaning carpet or fabrics made from natural sources, such as wool or cotton, a neutral or slightly alkaline chemical solution is often the best choice. This choice helps protect the fibers and the coloring.
As a general rule of thumb, cleaning performance on typical oily soils is enhanced with an increase in pH. Some soils, for example hard water deposits, are best removed with acids.
As an illustration of their non-aggressive behavior in comparison to stronger acids, products containing sulfamic or phosphoric acid were found to result in no chemical attack on nylon carpets. On the other hand, a hydrochloric or powder acid-based product would basically dissolve the fibers.
Other than the two pH extremes, the pH scale becomes secondary to the inherent properties of the specific chemical in terms of corrosiveness.
Evaluate the fiber
Before selecting a detergent with a specific pH level to clean carpet, technicians must know what type of carpet fiber they are working with. There are various tests that can be used, such as trimming a small amount of the fiber and burning it with a butane lighter in an ashtray, to determine what type of fiber the carpet is made of.
Different carpet fibers will have different colors and embers when burning as well as different odors; a wool fiber, for example, will have an orange flame and an odor of burning hair. Additionally, the ash left behind after burning can be key in determining the type of carpet fiber. Synthetic carpets leave a hard bead behind since they are made of plastic, while natural fibers leave behind a soft powdery ash.
However, usually the easiest method of determining the type of carpet fiber — or at least what should be done first — is to simply ask the client or manufacturer.
Best to identify it all, for the safety of the fiber, call for pro's to do the job as they are the true experts who studied well on how to mix and match the pH of each carpet cleaners
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