Acid cleaning is the process used to remove various types of dirt build-up, discolouration, and tarnish from masonry or metals. Acid cleaning is common for keeping brick walls, concrete footpaths, and metallic building structures looking clean and new. Acid cleaning also takes place in and around the home for removing tarnish or hard water stains from various surfaces. The cleaning acid employed may be strong or mild depending on the material that needs cleaning, and the severity of stains.
Acid cleaning methods vary, depending on the situation. With items such as metal pans soaked in a combination of water and acid cleaner to remove stubborn food stains. For cleaning walls or walkways, a constant stream of water is applied as part of the washing process. Some surfaces are coated with an acid cleaning agent which is allowed to set for a short time, then scrubbed off the surface in order to remove the dirt, tarnish or stain.
Acetic acid and citric acid are mild acid cleaners that are often used to handle household cleaning requirements. These are found in many of the common cleaning agents designed to dissolve hard water spots and to remove rust stains from various household surfaces.
Strong acid cleaners are used when the tarnish or stain is heavy and resistant. These compounds usually contain Hydrochloric (muriatic) acid, sulphuric acid, sodium bisulphate, and sometimes a combination of all three. These acid cleaning products are commonly used for washing down concrete, cleaning aluminium or brick, and dealing with other tough stains on porcelain and metal surfaces. It may be necessary to apply the product more than once to completely clean the area, depending on the level of diluted acid that is used.
Acid Cleaning Safety
Acid cleaning requires stringent safety procedures, as it is important to protect the body from contact with the acid solution. The wearing of protective gloves, and use of protective goggles over the eyes are recommended. Because some products can bleach out fabrics, it is generally a good idea to wear old clothes while handling the cleaning task. If working with the acid in an enclosed area, use a protective face mask as well, to prevent the inhalation of fumes. While most acids are safe to use with proper precautions, failure to use adequate protection can cause damage to the eyes and skin.