We use household cleaners, including multi-surface and glass cleaners, to mop up such a huge variety of messes that the ingredients in each bottle have to be capable of breaking down all kinds of materials. But those ingredients also have to be limited in their capacity to cause damage to humans. Therefore, developing an effective and safe cleaning product requires careful consideration of alkalinity.
What Is Alkalinity?
Alkalinity is the capacity of a solution in which water is the solvent to neutralize acid. It measures how strong the bases are inside the solution. Along with pH, it helps household cleaner manufacturers determine how safe a cleaning solution is for people while providing a measure of cleaning power and versatility.
Alkalinity and Cleaning Products
Though water is a powerful solvent and, given enough time, is capable of breaking down many of the most common household messes, it sometimes needs help from strong bases. Bases help break down substances that water can’t. The presence of a base affects the alkalinity of a cleaner product.
Some of the most common bases in cleaning products include:
- Sodium Hydroxide – Also called lye or caustic soda, it is an unusually caustic base that can decompose proteins quickly and effectively. Sodium hydroxide must be used in careful moderation in cleaning products.
- Potassium Hydroxide – Also called caustic potash, it is reactive toward acid and is, like sodium hydroxide, highly corrosive.
Some of the most common alkaline cleaning agents include:
- Bleach – Solutions that use oxidizing or bleaching agents to remove stains, disinfect, and whiten clothes.
- Ammonia – Compounds of nitrogen and hydrogen that, in concentration, are caustic and effective cleaners.
These compounds work in different combinations and amounts to dissolve dirt, food, and other common household messes. Most cleaners not labeled as natural cleaners contain one or more of the above-listed agents along with stern warnings about contact and ingestion of solutions.
Understanding the alkalinity of cleaners is vital to determining how effective they will be at decomposing common grime and dirt so that it can be removed from home surfaces and disposed. Alkalinity also affects the safety of cleaning products, as they often include dispersants that prevent redeposition of dissolved materials and come in spray bottles for use over a wide area.
No matter a cleanser’s alkalinity during and after development, warning consumers of the dangers of cleaning agents and providing instructions for safe use is essential to the success of a cleaning product.
Avomeen offers cleaning product testing and development that can help you determine the ideal alkalinity of your household cleaning product. Get more information about our cleaning product laboratory.