The pH scale determines the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. The scale ranges from 0 to 14. At the 0 end of the scale is where solutions are very acidic. Moving up around 2 on the scale is the rating for lemon juice, around 3 is vinegar, beer and cola. Pure water has a pH of 7, which is neutral.
As you move up the scale from 7, solutions become more alkaline (some chemicals in this range are commonly referred to as bases). Milk of magnesia has a pH of 10, household ammonia has a pH of 11, and household bleach has a pH of 12. Oven cleaners fall between 13 and 14. Solutions at either end of the scale are extremely corrosive.
It is important to know about the pH scale as improperly using cleaners with too low or too high of a pH can ruin surfaces. In addition, mixing low pH solutions with high pH solutions is dangerous, and can even be deadly. Employees need to be aware that mixing chemicals together to make their own “super" cleaning solution is never a good idea.
High pH detergents may be required when floors are heavily embedded with wax or badly soiled with grease. However, it is not recommended to use harsh chemicals for daily floor cleaning. Instead, use a high quality cleaner with a neutral pH that will not harm the surface.
Strong acids (low pH) may be required to clean toilet bowls. Be aware that strong acids are very corrosive and they can eat through metal.
Your employees should always have the proper protective gear when working with chemical solutions. Cloth or cotton type gloves will not protect an employee's skin from these chemicals. Make sure you have the proper gloves available (usually a latex or nitrile glove) for your employees to use when handling chemicals.
Steve Hanson is co-founding member of The Janitorial Store (TM), an online community for owners and managers of cleaning companies who want to build a more profitable and successful cleaning business. Sign up for Trash Talk: Tip of the Week at http://www.TheJanitorialStore.com and receive a Free Gift!