How To Clean Hard Surface Floors Like a Scientist

picture of pH scale showing balance between acidic and basic

Many people think that cleaning hard surface flooring is as simple as running a mop over the surface. This could not be further from the truth. Using an incorrect cleaning product or method might end up doing more harm than good. Put on your lab coat and safety goggles, we are learning the best ways to clean using science.

Acidic, Basic, & Neutral

Understanding the pH scale is a great place to start. The scale ranges from 0 to 14: below 7 is acidic, above 7 is basic, and neutral is in the middle. Each area of the pH scale has potential advantages and disadvantages when cleaning.

Acidic cleaners are able to dissolve hard-to-clean spots like rust and built-up minerals. Basic cleaners (also called alkaline) break down oils and are commonly used in household cleaning. Soap, laundry detergent, and bleach all have a pH above 7. Be careful when using the two together! Mixing a highly acidic and basic cleaner can create a volatile reaction and produce toxic fumes.

Neutral cleaners sit between the two. While effective, they are less likely to damage the surface they are used on. Regular dish soap and a diluted cleaning product are examples of neutral cleaners. The question is what is the right cleaning product for my floors.

When in Doubt use Neutral Cleaners to Clean Hard Surface Floors

Most hard surface floors will be damaged by a cleaning solution that is too high or low in pH. Vinyl flooring is made with a protective coating that will be removed if using a stronger cleaning product. Wood flooring also has a protective coating that can be removed and will begin to dull if an alkaline product is used. For concrete only use non-basic cleaners when removing serious stains (acidic for minerals and basic for oils). Ceramic tile is slightly more resilient and can withstand a slightly acidic solution, like vinegar, if watered down.

Cleaning professionals will stick to a neutral or highly diluted solution to clean hard surface floors. If unsure please contact a cleaning professional at System4 Facility Services.

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