Generally speaking, the higher the pH, the more powerful the cleaner which means that both highly alkaline and highly acidic products can be dangerous and potentially explosive if used incorrectly. The limiting factor is the type of soil and the surface being cleaned. Most organic soils are slightly acidic, so we use cleaners that are slightly alkaline. The rule of thumb is always use the mildest first (water) then progress with a stronger product as necessary based on the type soil involved. Learn to use a pH strip to determine what you are dealing with. Remember that oil based solvents do not have a pH since they do not mix with water. However, oily soils can have a pH with the challenge of using the right detergency to deal with the oils and then attack the soil itself.

Chemical cleaning of minerals usually uses acids. The acids stimulate a chemical reaction with soils that are not affected by solvents or detergents. Acid cleaning is usually used on inorganic substances such as magnesium, calcium, iron, etc. Seldom would you use an acid cleaner on a resilient floor since it could do damage and not actually clean effectively. They are usually used in restrooms to remove mineral deposits from toilets, urinals, fixtures and ceramic tile. They also can be useful in some hard floor cleaning situations where hard water has left mineral deposits not easily removed by a neutral cleaner.  Always rinse promptly to reduce the risk of damaging the metal or chrome.

Mechanical action can be supplied in many forms; from a soft scrub brush up to sand blasting the surface.  Mechanical action in resilient floor cleaning is supplied by brushes, floor pads, putty knives, etc.  It is almost always used in combination with one of the other types of cleaning actions to break up and remove soils.  A good example is that stripping a floor requires both chemical and mechanical action to break up the old finish by using a stripping pad combined with a high pH (10.5 -11) stripping solution to chemically dissolve the floor finish.  Of course, the floor must be neutralized, rinsed and allowed to dry before floor finish can be applied.

Be careful with allowing untrained workers to conduct floor work since it can require unnecessary labor to redo incorrect work.  Your comments and questions are always welcome.  I hope to hear from you soon.  Until then, keep it clean…..

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678.314.2171 or