A foundational knowledge of the pH scale can be used to understand the purposes and categorisation of different cleaning products. The pH scale ranges from 1-14, where a pH of 7 is neutral (water), 1-6 is acidic and, 8-14 is alkaline. With this in mind, alkaline degreasers are more diluted with hydroxide ions than acidic cleanerswhich contain more hydrogen ions.

It is important to follow COSHH safety guidelines appropriate to the task you are commencing, before utilising any form of acidic or alkaline cleaner.

What is an alkaline cleaner?

Alkaline degreasers are often heralded as the most eco-friendly, cost-efficient and effective cleaners to use. This is mostly due to the fact that alkaline cleaners are water-based, less harmful mixtures. Though they are eco-sensitive, kinder mixtures, alkaline products don’t mean you are compromising on effectiveness or quality - if you’d like to learn more about the benefits of safe, alkaline cleaners, we recently produced a guide on our eco-friendly product routine.

Where are alkaline cleaners used?

Most commonly, alkaline cleaners are used in commercial and home environments as their chemical blends - such as sodium hydroxide - work to break down oils, greases, fats and organic residues that are produced daily. Clothing detergent is a common example of an alkaline cleaner. Usually these detergent products are alkaline degreasers as they work to break down and remove food stains or dyes from clothes.

What is an acidic cleaner?

An acidic cleaner is a stronger product used to remove tougher, inorganic substances, - like, rust or scale. Due to the low pH rating of acidic cleaners, they are considered more harmful if they contact skin or if their vapours are inhaled. Often, cleaning regimens must incorporate both acid and alkaline cleaners to maintain a full, deep clean – the correct safety measures and PPE must be in place, dependent on the product and task.

Where are acidic cleaners used?

Acidic cleaners are most effective when used on metallic materials, as their high concentration of hydrogens mean dissolving scale is where they are most effective. Places where acidic cleaners are commonly utilised are vinyl, tiles and carpets - where the strength of their chemical blends is more suited than water-based, alkaline cleaners.

Our favourite acidic and alkaline degreaser products:
  • Multifresh 3238: a multi-purpose, high-performance alkaline cleaner designed to reduce the need for single-use products. Suitable for bathrooms, glass, plastic and sanitising.
  • Mega Plus 254: a safer alternative to acidic de-scalers, without the compromise on effectiveness! Suitable to remove rust from ferrous and non-ferrous metals.

If you would like to learn more about our range of alkaline & acidic cleaners and their role in your commercial cleaning routine, please get in contact via our enquiry form.