Glossary of Cleaning Terms

At Scott & Sons, we are dedicated to training our staff to the highest standards, so we can offer our clients the best cleaning service around, and prove that we are experts in our industry.

This month, we have put together a glossary of cleaning terms, so if you’re attempting a cleaning job yourself, and you’re not too sure about what substances to use, or what certain cleaning product or chemicals actually are, then you can refer to this helpful list!


Acid is a compound that will turn litmus paper a red colour and will neutralise an alkali. It ionises in water to produce hydrogen ions and when dissolved in water, the solution can conduct electricity.

Alkali or Base

A substance that neutralises acid is known as an alkali or a base. With a pH of more than 7, it will turn litmus paper blue and can feel soapy to touch. This can often be found in things such as degreasers, wax strippers and for soil and finish removal.


A common household cleaning substance, bleach is used to brighten up dull or worn fabrics, whiten surfaces such as bathroom suits and it can also remove stains as and when necessary.

Chlorine Bleach

Liquid form of chlorine bleach is used as a whitener, stain remover, disinfectant and deodoriser, and so is therefore often added to laundry. The dry form of chlorine bleach is used in cleaners, such as dishwasher detergents.


Whether powdered or in liquid form, this cleaning substance contains abrasives,  surfactants, and often a bleach too.

Non-chlorine Bleach

Commonly used as a laundry product, non-chlorine bleach contains peroxygen compounds that release oxygen into the the water in the washing machine’s drum. This is a far more gentler bleaching solution in comparison to chlorine bleach.


Sanitizers are often found in healthcare establishments, such as a doctor’s surgery, or in the food industry. A sanitizer will reduce the number of harmful bacterias to a safer level, although it will never completely eradicate them entirely.


Degreasers remove any oils, fats or grease that may be lingering on a hard surface. The ingredients of a degreaser includes surfactants and alcohol to penetrate and lift the grease and grime.

Fatty Acid

Common examples include coconut oil and tallow. Fatty acids are an organic substance that react with a base to form a soap.

Corrosion Inhibitor

This will protect any surface from wearing away after time. It is the sodium silicate that works as the inhibitor and is often used in detergents.


This implies the chemical is neither an acid nor an alkali, but instead has a neutral balance and pH of 7.

If you’re looking for professional cleaning services throughout Hereford and the surrounding area then Scott & Sons are the specialists to call. We can tailor our services to meet your needs, so whether you need one-off domestic cleaning, or a regular commercial contract, we can be there to help keep things in order. Please call us for more information.