Cleaning is as much a science as it is an art. Of course, it’s not the fun kind of art. It’s less about looking at upside-down paintings and ascribing meaning to random brush strokes while drinking overpriced wine; and more about figuring out how to remove your children’s expressionist experiments off the walls.
It’s not the fun kind of science, either. Although it does contain a dash of danger if you’re not careful, cleaning science is hardly going to fill you with excitement. Yet it’s a good idea to know a thing or two about the scientific reality behind the veil of this seemingly mundane task if you want to maximise your effectiveness on the home front.
This is what today’s article is about. We’re going to embark on a thrilling journey, peering behind the curtain to unravel the secrets of cleaning products. What’s the science that empowers them to vanquish dirt, grime, and germs? How can you make better use of it? What are the safety considerations you should know? The answers to all these questions (and more) lie below.
In this article:
Cleaning products are tasked with the difficult job of penetrating surfaces, trapping dirt and grime, and removing stains. While it looks simple on the surface, there’s actually a lot of work being done behind the scenes.
To understand how cleaning products do their job, we must understand a trio of essential components: solvents, surfactants, and emulsifiers.
Solvents dissolve and break down various substances. That’s their job and they’re pretty good at it. Grease, oil, and other organic substances crumble beneath their relentless assault.
Meanwhile, surfactants reduce surface tension. This enables water to spread with less effort and engulf every trace of dust, dirt, and grime. With the help of surfactants, cleaning solutions glide seamlessly, decisively dealing with dirt and leaving surfaces clean.
Finally, emulsifiers ensure that oil can be dispersed in water (which normally couldn’t happen). They facilitate easy rinsing, restoring balance to your cleaning endeavors.
As we delve further into the science of cleaning, let’s get to know the ingredients that make our favourite cleaning products work:
You can find natural versions or alternatives to most of the ingredients above.
In the grand scheme of things, each cleaning product operates through specific mechanisms to conquer diverse surfaces and stains, depending on its type:
As you can see, things are pretty consistent. Once you know the ingredients and what they do, it’s a lot easier to pick the right cleaner for the right stain.
Now, things might get more technical but it’s important to understand pH in the context of cleaning. PH is a numerical measurement of acidity or basicity.
Acidic cleaners have a pH below 7. On the other hand, alkaline cleaners have a pH above 7. Neutral cleaners, with a pH of around 7, provide a safe and balanced approach for everyday cleaning endeavors. Remember, choosing the appropriate pH ensures optimal cleaning results.
By mixing a high pH and a low pH cleaner, you neutralise their cleaning properties. That’s why it’s not the best idea to mix baking soda and vinegar, unless you do it on the surface you’re trying to clean.
As we navigate the vast landscape of cleaning, let’s not forget about safety:
Well, this is it. Now you’ve officially dipped your toe into the realm of cleaning science. Equipped with an understanding of how cleaning products operate, you now possess the power to make informed choices and embrace the path to a cleaner, healthier life. May your surfaces gleam with triumph and your living environment flourish with cleanliness. And, as always, if you need a hand, we’re never more than a phone call away.
Hi, I’m Atanas - brand consultant and writer. I’m helping Samyx Cleaning create the best cleaning company blog on the Internet. Join us on our journey and learn how to live a cleaner, healthier, happier life in the process.
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