Why should I know about the PH of cleaning products while doing car detailing?
While doing car detailing, we use chemical products; knowing the PH of cleaning products is essential to ensure that the product will not damage the paintwork, upholstery, or other vehicle elements. In addition, professional car detailers attach great importance to ensuring that the products used for services have the correct pH, so it is safe and effective for the cleaned surface. However, before we get to the heart of the topic, let’s return for a moment to school chemistry lessons.
What is the pH scale?
The pH scale describes the amount of H + and hydroxide OH- ions in an aqueous solution. The domination of hydrogen ions indicates an acidic reaction, while the dominance of hydroxide ions indicates an alkaline reaction. In practice, we use the pH scale. According to it, solutions with a pH from 0.0 to 6.9 are acids, a solution with a pH of 7.0 is neutral (neutral), and bases (alkaline) have a pH from 7.1 to 14.0. Pure water is neutral and has a pH of 7.0. Now that you know the basics, here are some tips to remember when choosing a cleaner.
Acids (pH 1) are found in some products for cleaning painted and powder-coated aluminium rims, steel rims and hubcaps. An example of such a product is Autopia Blast or ADBL Wheel Warrior. Acid wheel cleaners remove brake pad deposits and rust quickly and effectively. They are suitable for deep but periodic cleaning of the rims. Fallout removers with a neutral pH are better suited for current wheel care. When using such strongly acidic products, you should be careful not to contact paintwork and glass surfaces due to the risk of damage.
Acids should also not be used to clean polished and anodised aluminium and chrome. Products with acidic pH are suitable for removing inorganic contaminants such as metal filings or rust. Gentle acidic products are perfect for removing limescale ( water spots) from windows and paint, e.g. ( FX Protect Water Spot Remover). Some car shampoos with PH slightly below 7 are beneficial for unclogging ceramic coatings, e.g. ADBL Tangy.
products with a neutral pH are safe for all surfaces, including paintwork. Therefore, most of the car chemicals available on the market have a neutral reaction. For example, products such as car shampoos, snow foam (not all, but most!), iron removers (ADBL Vampire), upholstery rinsers (ADBL Textil Rinse), snow foam (ADBL Yeti) have a neutral pH.
products are used primarily in removing organic dirt: dried insects, greasy stains, resin, tree sap, and dust or stains on the upholstery. Generally, the higher the pH (more alkaline), the stronger the product, the more cleaning power, and the more aggressive it is for the surface and our hands. The most popular universal cleaner, APC, is alkaline based.
Light alkalis (pH 9-10) are suitable for washing upholstery, while stronger alkalis (above 12-13) can damage the fabric’s fibres. So if you decide to clean the upholstery with APC, be sure to dilute the solution properly. However, a dedicated product will always be a better choice.
Car leather cleaning products
Many people face a difficult choice of the most effective and safe leather cleaner to clean upholstery in a car. Genuine leathers are demanding, so they need special care. Before buying a leather product or deciding on any home cleaning methods, you need to determine what pH the leather upholstery has? The pH of the leather upholstery is in the range of 4.0-4.5 (acidic). For this reason, we should not clean leather with APC, the pH of which is around 10-11 (strongly alkaline). Products with a pH close to the leather’s pH are best suited for ongoing leather care. An example of such a product is Colourlock Mild Leather Cleaner with a pH of 5.5. On the other hand, if the dirt on the leather is heavy, difficult to remove, or the leather is old and requires a thorough cleaning, it will be better to use a slightly more alkaline product, e.g. Colourlock Strong Cleaner pH of 9-9.5.
In conclusion, here are some helpful pH tips you should keep in mind: Acidic cleaners remove inorganic impurities: rust, metal filings, brake pad dust and water spots. Alkaline products remove organic contaminants: greasy stains, crushed insect shells, resin, tree sap, dust, stains and stains on the upholstery. Do not use a cleanser with a pH too high for the contaminant you are trying to remove. Whether the pH is appropriate is in doubt, it is worth testing the product in an inconspicuous place. The best choice is always to use a product dedicated to the surface to be cleaned because the manufacturer takes care of the best pH selection based on tests.