Neutral cleaners are supposed to be neutral on the pH scale (7.0) and for the most part they are. The only way to be certain is to test them with a pH paper. You may find that some neutral cleaners are slightly higher and some slightly lower. What you want out of a good neutral cleaner is one that will clean all types of floors without rinsing and does not leave a residue. Neutral cleaners should not be used if you expect great results when cleaning a surface with a heavy gross soil load that has been there a while. Neutral cleaners are designed to remove the accumulation of light daily soils.
Do you have a natural stone floor? Most natural stone floors are acid sensitive. So if you’re cleaning with a pH level lower than 7 (neutral) then your most likely “etching” that stone which may be noticeably visible immediately after cleaning if the pH is to low. You can clean natural stone with alkaline cleaners but be sure that you rinse very well as to not leave a residue.
Vinyl floors that have an acrylic coating applied will clean up with alkaline cleaners (pH 8-14) however, over time the alkaline will start to break down and dull the finish on the floor. Cleaning with a neutral cleaner will clean the floor and keep the floor finish from damage.
One of the most common questions we get about hardwood floors are “why does it appear and feel like there is a “sticky” residue on the floor”? Well, because there usually is. Many customers we have worked for have told us about the products they have used. We always come to the conclusion that the floor was maintained with a product that the pH level was to high on the alkaline side of the scale. You usually won’t go wrong with a neutral cleaner on hardwood floors. Neutral cleaners are the safest for hardwood floors.
Ceramic tile and grout are very durable floor coverings. They too need to be cleaned with the appropriate pH level cleaner. Once again, a good neutral cleaner- no rinse cleaner diluted will lift soil and won’t leave a residue behind.
After a while, you will need to give your floor a “deep clean”. Deep cleaning would involve using a pH cleaner somewhere between 8-14 on the pH scale. Remember, when using alkaline you must rinse the floor thoroughly as to not leave a residue or cause breakdown of protective coatings and sealers.
The single most important thing you can do for any floor covering is “dry soil removal” sweeping and vacuuming. Sand and soil if left on a floor will act as a sandpaper and start to break down your floor covering. Clean your floors properly and they should last you a long time.
Jamie Strohmeyer/ Owner
Green Bay Floor Restore