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Acid Based Cleaners May Be Hiding Among Your Products, Beware!

February 23, 2016


There are a lot of misconceptions about what cleaners should and should not be used on hard surfaces. To properly clean your stone, you have to become a detective. Investigating the ingredients of your household cleaners may not sound like an exciting job, but we can provide some extremely easy tips to narrow down the culprits that may be secretly damaging your stone every time you attempt a thorough stone cleaning.

Before Picture - Acid Based Cleaners May Be Hiding Among Your Products, Beware!
Identify the culprit

One of the most common active ingredients in cleaning products is acid. An acid is a chemical substance with a pH of less than 7. The easiest way to remember what contains acidic ingredients is the Latin meaning for acid: sour. So, anything that contains citrus is likely acidic! Another way to tell is by the ending of the ingredient. If the ingredients name ends with -ide, -ate, or -ite, or has the word "acid" in it, then the cleaner contains an acid!

First, a little science!

Acids react negatively with calcium carbonate found in marble, travertine, and limestone, which are very common in floors and countertops. They cause spots that appear to be water spots, but in actuality, it's where the acid dissolves the surface of the stone. Besides hand cleaners, many toilet bowl cleaners are acid based and can cause what look like splatter marks around toilets.

What to look for

Some of the most common ingredients found in household cleaners are very acidic.

Acetic acid can be found in vinegar, and products that contain vinegar such as hot sauce and ketchup! This is why you should NEVER clean with vinegar one of the most commonly recommended DIY cleaners.

Another key ingredient in the DIY world is citrus key ingredients being citric acid and ascorbic acid! It adds an amazing, tangy flavor to foods, but it can completely dissolve the seal and damage the surface of your stone. Look out when your juice splashes on your countertop make sure to carefully wipe it up immediately with a clean cloth!

The truth is, the biggest offenders in this regard are the "natural" and "plant based" cleaning products. Natural cleaning products are not synonymous with "safe" products. Mercury, lead, and poison ivy are "naturally occurring" but that doesn't make them safe.

Many drain cleaners also contain sulfuric acid or sodium hydroxide as the active ingredient so when using these in your sinks, watch out for splash!

How should I clean my stone?

Every day, we advise customers to carefully select cleaners that are safe for natural stone. The best thing to use is a pH-neutral soap-less cleaner. Both acidic and alkaline cleaners can damage stone, so it's important to make sure that the cleaner you're using on natural stone is completely pH-neutral to guarantee no damaging interactions compromise the seal or the stone itself.

My stone is damaged... what can I do now?

You've got those terrible water spots on your stone but what can you do to fix them? If you caught it early, the news is good! In most cases, the seal is just damaged, not the stone. However, if the seal is damaged, it's no longer protecting the stone underneath.

After Picture - Acid Based Cleaners May Be Hiding Among Your Products, Beware!
If the stone is damaged, it will need to be honed and polished. There is usually no need for replacement - the stone pros at Sir Grout can resurface the damaged stone surfaces to look like new. After the stone is polished, it will be resealed.

If you have damage due to using the wrong cleaners, it's not too late! Give us a call at (866) 476-8863 to schedule a free evaluation, today.

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