Cleaning Chemistry

Today the cleaning professional uses extremely sophisticated technology. The Professional cleaner should have a basic understanding of the chemicals as to the effects of how they interact with each other. Improper use can cause unwanted reactions. When Cleaning solutions come into contact with each other and their target reactions take place some are beneficial and someĀ  can be disastrous.


Affinity is the attraction between substances that cause them to combine. The term hydro means water and the term lipo/oleo refers to oil. The term philic refers to affinity and phobic refers to non-affinity. When something is ‘Hydrophobic’ it avoids water when it is ‘hydrophilic’ it is attracted to water. The same is true with ‘Lipophobic’ and ‘Lipophilic’.


Polarity refers to the magnetic force present in each substance, surfaces with opposite ionic charges attract, substances with similar ionic charges repel. This is a natural principle with all cleaning systems. Surfactants used in the manufacturing of synthetic detergents possess an ionic electrical charge Cationic detergents carry a + charge while anionic carry a negative charge and nonionic detergents carry no charge and amphoteric chemicals carry both a negative and a positive charge. It is important not to mix anionic and cationic chemical! Doing so will destroy the properties of both chemicals. A common example is mixing a cationic cleaner with a anionic deodorizer. Nonionic chemicals can be mixed with either cationic or nonionic chemicals.

Surface Tension

Surface Tension is the attraction between molecules of water, which prevents penetration. In a body of water each molecule is surrounded by other water molecules and are attracted to each other, In the cleaning process it is necessary to reduce surface tension. You can do this by adding a wetting agent like soap. We call soap and other cleaning detergent with this property a surfactant because of its ability to reduce surface tension. The head of the surfactant molecule penetrates the surface of the water breaking it’s bond and allowing it to spread and penetrate. They make water wetter.


Emulsification is necessary in the cleaning process in order for a detergent to be able to suspend and disperse oil. Water, which has no affinity for oil, must be combined with a detergent, which gives the water an affinity to both water and oil and disperses it through out the water. Emulsification is a uniform distribution of one liquid with another.


PH is the measurement of alkalinity or acidity on a scale of 0-14. Pure or distilled water is neutral and registers at 7. pH is a symbol denoting the logarithm of the concentration of hydrogen P=power H=hydrogen. The pH scale is logarithmic which means that solutions of 6 and 8 are ten times stronger than 7 and a solution of 5 and 9 are ten times stronger than 6 and 8. Most soils are acidic, adding a alkaline cleaner you increase the effectiveness of the cleaning process by neutralizing the soil