The science behind cleaning

The science behind cleaning

We have all seen the adverts and products promising to offer unique levels of cleaning power, when you look online there are literally thousands of options to choose from, but did you know that the majority of cleaning products work in exactly the same way. Most cleaning products are activated when used in water. 

But if water is how the cleaning product works why don’t we use it on it’s own?

Water has a high surface tension, which means water forms beads on surfaces of things. The droplet holds its shape and doesn’t spread, which is why water on its own is not able to clean surfaces. But when you mix water with certain chemicals the surface tension is reduced and water is able to cover the area you are wanting to clean;  clothes, dishes, counters and worktops etc. The chemicals that create this reaction are called surface active agents, or surfactants, exactly what cleaning products are made from.

How do surfactants get surfaces clean?

Every surfactant has two sides, one side happy to mix with water and the other side actively repels itself away from it. Think of the common phrase, ‘water and oil don’t mix’…..

The water repelling side known as the hydrophobic side likes oil and grease, the other hydrophilic side loves mixing with water – This combination is the true science behind cleaning chemicals…….

Once the surfactant chemical is added to water, the cleaning product creates a sphere shape, the water-loving side on the outside and the water-repelling side trapped inside sphere. So, when you clean and agitate a surface, the dirt is lifted into the sphere and trapped within the water repellent particles, this is why the water becomes dirty but the surface of the fabric is cleaned. Clever!

There are literally thousands of surfactant products available to buy but that doesn’t mean that they all work effectively but it also doesn’t mean that you need to buy 40, 50, 60 different products to keep your home, office or warehouse clean. The more chemicals you use the greater the chance of incidents – not all cleaning products play nice with each other. So how do you know what you need and for what purpose? We recommend that the following 4 products will be suitable for 90% of situations….

A single bottle of multipurpose cleaner will be suitable for most cleaning jobs and surfaces (apart from unsealed natural stone)

A quality degreaser can be used on nearly all surfaces – it is a strong surfactant that will help to clean carpets, upholstery, stainless steel, work tops, and kitchen appliances, dilute to suit the job

The de-scaler is needed for washrooms and bathrooms and will effectively remove limescale from toilets, taps, sinks and tiles

A mild detergent can be used to wash the dishes, clean the windows and soak heavily stained surfaces without causing damage

What you don’t need

  • Furniture polish

Routine dusting is just as effective with a lightly dampened cloth with a little multipurpose cleaner on it. Polish also contains silicones which build up layers on your furniture, this will create problems if you ever need to make any repairs. 

  • Bleach

Bleach is a chlorine-based corrosive substance that is highly toxic and is actually a stripping agent and not a cleaning product. Prolonged use will actually damage surfaces and can also be irritating and corrosive to the skin, lungs, and eyes. We don’t use bleach ever!

  • An abrasive cream

Mild abrasives are very popular and undoubtedly can remove tough stains, but the abrasive particles can actually damage the surface you’re trying to clean. Leaving behind tiny irreparable scratches.

Using 50 products doesn’t make you a better cleaner but it will clutter up your cupboards and if accidently mixed together toxic reactions can occur which cause damage to the surfaces and your health.

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