As professionals in the cleaning industry, we use water in many cleaning processes. BUT many individuals may not realize that there are four ways we can alter water to clean better.

The concept of “Making Water Wetter” has been an age-old idea. While not trying to be too complicated, water has a property called “Surface Tension”. Surface tension may slow down the cleaning process because the water does not wet the surface, but remains on the surface. This is why water will bead up on a smooth surface. Surfactants reduce the water tension.

Surfactants are generally soaps. Surfactants perform other important functions in cleaning, such as loosening, emulsifying (dispersing in water) and holding soil in suspension until it can be rinsed away.

The power of Hydrogen (pH) refers the level of acidity or alkalinity of a solution. pH uses a scale of 0 to 14 to measure the pH. Water is ‘neutral’ at a 7 ph on the scale. Below 7, the solution is more of an acid. Above 7, the solution is considered an alkaline.

Strong acids and alkaline are more likely to emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are yet another concern for those in the cleaning services. Cleaning experts have long argued, that prolonged exposure to VOCs is a known health hazard.

pH will always be a factor in cleaning, and like many things in life, the most concerning are the extremes that may be adopted in the cleaning program. All product labels have the pH levels identified as part of the safe handling of cleaning products.

Oxidizing Reduction Potential (ORP) refers to the Oxidation Potential in which water may be altered, or improved for cleaning and sanitizing purposes. ORP refers to the power of a liquid to oxide (destroy) potential contamination. As you can see in the chart, ORP is currently an important measurement for numerous water applications.

Oxygen can turn iron to rust, turn copper green, or cause wood to age. This happens every day in nature, but begs the question, “What happens if we can flood the target area with billions of oxygen atoms?” Oxidizers are powerful sanitizers because they quickly attach to the outer membrane of bacteria and virus, causing the protective skin to fall apart.

This is yet another way to make water, work better. When applied in a pressurized stream, water can strip and remove many surface contaminants. Using engineered water in a pressurized stream, such as in no touch cleaning systems, carpet extraction units and many more, the water and oxygen together are an unbeatable duo.

Everyone should know a great deal about water temperature, cleaning products, and water pressure. What we may not know much about is the application of engineered water to the cleaning and sanitizing process.

David Thompson is the Director of Education for GEM Supply, responsible for four Learning Centers in Central Florida. He is also the host of a weekly internet broadcast show, “Beyond Clean with Dave”, which focuses on the messages within the professional cleaning industry: healthy, positive and progressive. Dave can be contacted at