Should I use acid for cleaning?

Date: 14-04-2021

cleaning with acid

Here’s our advice for choosing the correct products and procedures for your next acid cleaning job.

What is acid cleaner?

Before we get into the nitty gritty of acid cleaning, let’s talk start with the basics. 

Cleaners can be neutral, alkaline or acidic in nature. Acidic chemicals work by breaking down and dissolving stains and corrosions making them easier to remove.

Acidity is measured on a pH scale indicating how acidic or alkaline a solution can be. On the scale, a score of 1 indicates a substance that’s extremely acidic, 7 means a substance is Ph neutral and anything above 7 means it’s alkaline (good for removing fats and oils).

To further explain this, vinegar and lemon juice are acidic, while laundry detergent is alkaline and water is neutral.

The most common applications for an acid cleaner is to remove hard water stains, inorganic salts and tarnished surfaces. It also acts against alkaline corrosion and discolouration on metal surfaces.

Why neutralising matters

If you are using acidic cleaners on these materials, it’s essential that a neutralising alkaline is used afterwards which will be alkaline so the outcome is a neutral state. Neutralising is an important process in acidic cleaning because it helps to stop the corrosive process of the low pH substances.

Mitigating the risks of using acidic cleaners

At the end of the day, chemicals, particularly acids, are dangerous and can cause serious harm when used incorrectly. This includes direct contact or exposure to fumes.

Some of the symptoms of direct acid exposure include:

  • Mild irritation and redness to blistered, damaged & scarred skin
  • Irritated eyes & nasal tissues, with extreme exposure producing chemical burns

Get the right gear

Here at Rapid Clean Newcastle, we have everything you need to keep you and your staff safe so you can complete the job effectively.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a MUST when dealing with acid cleaning chemicals. This includes gloves, facemasks, eye protection, protective gowns and shoe protectors.

Essential resources

Start by referring to the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) specific to the chemical you’re using.

Also refer to available chemical charts to ensure that the chemicals on site when using acid cleaners. We’ve developed resources for you to print out and use below.

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Types of acid cleaners and how to use them

  • Low pH acidic detergent cleaners

These acidic cleaners have a pH ranging from 1 to 6 and are used to clean carpets, vinyl and tiles to remove the spots that neutral chemicals can’t. It’s essential that you neutralise these products after use, to avoid surface damage from extended exposure to acid.

Builders often use hydrochloric acid to clean up concrete, bricks and tiles at the end of a project. Hydrochloric acid is a heavy-duty cleaning agent that can damage grout and concrete if it’s not used with care, so it’s important to follow best-practice safety guidelines.

Sulphuric acid is most often used in drain cleaners to unclog stubborn pipes, dissolve hair, toilet paper, toothpaste and grease. Special care is needed with this product because fumes can build up in the pipes which may cause them to explode. Additionally, when working in small bathrooms or en suites, be mindful of having adequate ventilation so fumes don’t become overpowering.

Phosphoric acid is effective at removing rust, scale and bacteria. Products with a low phosphoric percentage can also be used as toilet cleaner because of phosphoric acid’s unclogging and disinfectant properties.

When to NEVER use an acidic cleaner

Do not use acidic cleaners on natural stone, marble, limestone and granite as it breaks down the materials and will cause irreversible damage.

Talk to us

Our Rapid Clean team is here to help. Yes, acidic cleaning can be dangerous, but with Rapid Clean’s high-quality products and expert advice we can help you clean your business thoroughly and efficiently.