Chemistry is one of the subjects that impacts highly applicable knowledge, especially if you are in the carpet cleaning industry. Understanding the chemical make-up – particularly the PH level – of a cleaning solution can identify the difference between having a discolored carpet and one that is looking rejuvenated.
When it comes to cleaning carpets, it may seem reasonable to grab any type of cleaner and start scrubbing to remove stains and oils. However, this is a big mistake because of one crucial component of cleaning: PH levels. As professional carpet cleaners, we know that PH plays an integral role when it comes to carpet cleaning products because of its ability to damage fibers and dyes.
What is PH?
In simplest terms, a PH level of solution refers to the alkalinity or acidity of a water-based solution. A PH of 7 indicates a neutral solution. So, anything below 7 is considered acidic, and anything above is considered alkaline.
In the early 1950s, the issue of PH guidelines started when a group called the British Standards was looking for volunteers to set limits on alkalinity for carpet cleaning. Most of the cleaners were using shampoo method because all carpets back then are wool. Many were boosting their products with ammonium hydroxide while some pushed the limit, increasing the PH too much, so the committee set a PH range of 5.5 to 8.0.
Starting in the 1960s, the concern about alkalinity lessened because synthetics became the dominant fibers in the United States. Then acid dye blockers came in 1986, and once again, alkalinity was a big issue.
Later, the majority claimed that Wools of New Zealand had modified the 5.5 to 8.0 rule to become a 4.5 to 8.5 guideline. But it turned out that Wools of New Zealand did not make this rule. Their focus was on certifying woolen carpets, but the organization owned another group called Woolsafe.
Woolsafe marketed laboratory testing and certifications for detergents, spotters, and protectors. They had approved a product with a PH of 13.5, but according to a study performed in 2004, Woolsafe did not approve some products with a PH of 6.5 because they were too alkaline.
The IICRC commissioned Dr. Al Luedtke, a chemist, wrote a white paper on carpet cleaning and PH to address these contradictory recommendations. Dr. Luedtke pointed out that the PH of a product alone was an insufficient measurement of its compatibility with a fiber. However, the myth of the 10.0 rule persists.
PH and Carpet Cleaning
Science lesson aside, why does PH matter? Well, choosing an appropriate PH level ensures the effectiveness of the solution’s cleaning ability without damaging fibers or dyes in your carpet. Carpets are made up of different materials which means a solution that helps clean one thing may actually damage another.
In general, carpets will suffer from oily soils, which require alkaline solutions to remove. Some soils need to be cleaned with solutions that are more acidic.
The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) recommends that carpets in residential homes should be cleaned with carpet solutions whose PH is between 8 and 10. Commercial areas like restaurants, can use cleaning solutions with higher alkalinity, from 12 upwards.
Work with Alpine Cleaners
To avoid causing damage to your carpets, professional carpet cleaners will identify the fibers used in your carpets and select the cleaning solution and method that is most appropriate for the job. Most carpets today are synthetic, made of nylon or polyester, so professionals tend to avoid solutions with a PH higher than 10 that can cause damage, or use an all-natural green cleaning solution. Not all damage is immediately apparent when the PH used is incorrect but it is important that your carpet cleaner knows the difference in PH levels and how to properly manage them during carpet cleaning.
If you are in need of professional carpet cleaning service professional carpet cleaning service in Massachusetts, look no further than Alpine Cleaners. We have over 30 years of experience providing residential and commercial clients with comprehensive cleaning services tailored to their needs. We offer our 10-Step Premium and Green Carpet Cleaning Process that only uses healthy, all-natural, soap-free, and green cleaning solutions, as well as use truck-mounted hot water extraction to clean your carpets.
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