Cleaning a surface is not always easy. The product itself needs to be able to remove the product, but there should also be a safe method to remove the soap-dirt mixture. The cleaning pie gives insight in the factors that play a role in cleaning.
The cleaning pie
The cleaning pie is not very difficult, it shows us that cleaning is a mixture of 4 elements: chemical, heat, time and agitation. These 4 factors combined give the tools to clean everything.
What is cleaning
Cleaning is the act of transporting dirt from one place to another via a medium. When you wash a vehicle, you transport the dirt on the paintwork into a bucket with water via soap and a washmitt. If you rinse the car after washing, you are transporting it to the floor or the drain together with the water you use to rinse. The soap/shampoo used will create a mixture of the dirt and the solution used. Basically, you need something that will loosen up the dirt, and allow it to be easily rinsed off without sticking to the surface again.
Temperature can aid in a few different aspects of cleaning. When water is warmer, it is better at mixing with other substances. Warm water will allow for more salt to be absorbed for example. When it cools down again, it doesn’t release the excess of salt either. Fat and grease is also more easily absorbed when the substance used is warm. A higher temperature might also mean that some forms of dirt or more fluid, which makes it a bit easier to remove.
When you spray some APC on a surface, it might need to be agitated with a brush to get more cleaning power. The agitation removes the dirt that has already been loosened, giving the soap the chance to attack the grime underneath that is now exposed. It will also help to mix the solution with oxygen, creating a more bubbly finish(this is due to the surfactants in the solution). Agitation is also used when you brush a piece of carpet after spraying it with a cleaning solution. It helps to penetrate the fabric to loosen up the dirt.
Just water isn’t very effective at cleaning. Steam only works because it is a combination of heat (see above) and pressure. It is better at blasting off dirt, then actually transporting it safely. To fully clean a surface the dirt must be removed completely and safely. A chemical can be added to the water to make it more absorbent, or to loosen up the bond that makes grease so sticky. The word chemical does not mean that is has to be very aggressive, or acidic. It is a substance that is added to the solution to increase its effect on certain types of dirt or other unwanted particles.
Time is the last factor. When you spray a surface with a degreaser, it won’t do anything within the first 0.5 second. It needs some time to penetrate the dirt and soak in. How much time this needs depends on the dirt and the product that is being used. Some products work faster then others. A fallout remover is a good example of this. It needs several minutes to fully start to bleed and loosen up iron particles.
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