Definition of the Terms “Alkali” and Alkaline”

What do the the terms “alkali,” “alkalinity” and pH have to do with carpet cleaning? How do you measure pH and alkalinity?

pH chart showing how to measure of alkalinity and acidity
  • An alkaline substance has a pH above 7.0 in water.
  • Alkalinity is neutralized by acids.
  • Alkaline liquids turn litmus paper blue.
  • Most water-based carpet cleaning solutions are alkaline because most soils are acidic.
  • Alkali builders in most detergents dissolve fats, oils and proteins. Most soils will contain these elements and alkaline cleaning agents will break down these materials and make them easier to remove.
  • High-alkaline cleaners work by reacting with the acids found in organic soils. The acids in the soil react with the alkaline-based cleaner to neutralize and cleanse.
  • High-alkaline cleaners dissolve fat, emulsify soil and destroy microorganisms.
  • The more alkaline the detergent (higher the pH), the more corrosive the cleaner and the more damage it will do to pH sensitive fibers and dyes.
  • ALL OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL, the more alkaline or the higher the pH, the better the cleaning.
  • pH can be measured with a pH meter or with pH paper.

What is the difference between pH and alkalinity in carpet cleaning detergents?

pH and alkalinity are closely related and affect each other. Alkalinity is the capacity of a water-based solution to neutralize acids. This capacity is caused by the water’s content of “builders” or “buffers” in the detergent, such as carbonate, bicarbonate, hydroxide, silicate and phosphate. pH is an expression of the intensity of the basic or acid condition of a liquid.

pH is used to refer to the relative acidity or alkalinity of a water-based solution and ranges from 0 to 14. Any liquid with a pH below 7 is acidic. A liquid with a pH above 7 is alkaline. A liquid with a pH of 7 is neutral.

Related Carpet Care Information:

  • pH Measurement of Alkalinity and Acidity

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Published by: Bane-Clene® Corp.
Copyright: Bane-Clene Corp.

Date Modified: August 31, 2020

Date Originally Published: March 29, 2017