Abrasive – A substance used to scour, scrub, smooth or polish. Abrasive particles can be found in products such as cleansers, pumice stones, scouring pads and hand cleaners.
Accessories – A variety of tools that may be used in conjunction with cleaning machines and equipment. For example: a dusting tool with a wet/dry vacuum.
Acid – A water soluble substance with pH less that 7 that reacts with and neutralizes and alkali.
Aerosol – An extremely fine mist or fog which consists of solid or liquid particles suspended in air. The term is also used to describe products with mechanically produce such a mist.
Alcohol – A class of organic compounds containing one or more hydroxyl groups (OH). Alcohol is used in detergent formulations to control viscosity, to act as a solvent for other ingredients and to provide resistance to low and freezing temperatures encountered in shipping, storage and use.
Algae – Microscopic single cell plants that grow in water, contains chlorophyll and requires sunlight.
Alkali – A chemical substance with pH greater that 7 that reacts with and neutralizes and acid. Also called alkaline or base.
Alkalinity – Alkalinity is useful in removing acidic, fatty and oily soils. Soap and soap-based products are alkaline and perform well only in an alkaline medium. Detergent products can be formulated at any level of alkalinity determined by the cleaning task to be performed.
All Purpose Cleaner – A powder or liquid detergent suitable for both general house cleaning duties and laundry. These products may not be as effective for specific cleaning jobs as products specifically formulated for those tasks.
Ammonia – An alkaline gas composed of nitrogen and hydrogen (NH3). 5% to 10% solutions of ammonia are sold as household ammonia. Ammonia is used to aid in removing grease and dirt from surfaces and to boost the cleaning power in grease cutters, wax strippers and general purpose soil removers.
Antimicrobial – An agent which destroys or inhibits bacteria, fungi, protozoa or viruses that are pathogenic.
Antiseptic – A chemical agent that inhibits or prevents the growth of microorganism microbes, particularly on the skin.
Asphalt Tile – A floor tile manufactured with a mixture of synthetic fibers, lime rock, mineral fillers and coloring. Asphalt is used to bind the materials together.
Bleeding – Removal of color from carpet or other floor tile material by a liquid Some carpets may bleed with hot water. Floor tile (particularly asphalt) can bleed from an excessive concentration of stripper solution.
Browning (Brown out) – A reaction that occurs in carpets when high pH solutions cause the carpet’s natural coloring in the backing (usually jute) to travel up the fiber strand and discolor the carpet. Easily cured with de-browning product applications.
Butyl Cellulose – A trademark name for a water-soluble solvent frequently used in degreasing products. Slang term is “butyl”.
Bypass Motor – A wet/dry vacuum motor that employs two sources of air in the machine’s operation. For example: working or vacuum air and cooling air.
C.F.M. – Cubic Feet per Minute. Describes the amount of air generated by a vacuum motor.
Carnuba – Natural polishing wax which is derived from the leaves of the carnuba palm tree in Brazil. One tree produces approximately four to five ounces of wax per year.
Carpet Freshener – A product which is designed to counteract malodor in carpets.
Caustic – Strong base (alkaline) substance which irritates the skin. Corrosive. When the term is used alone, it usually refers to caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) which is used in manufacturing hard soap. It also refers to caustic potash (potassium hydroxide) which is used in manufacturing soft soap.
Ceramic Tile – Clay tile with an impervious, usually glossy, layer on the surface.
Chlorine Bleach – A group of strong oxidizing agents commonly sold in an approximately 5% solution of sodium hypochlorite As a laundry additive, liquid chlorine removes stains, aids in soil removal, whitens, disinfects, and deodorizes. Dry forms of chlorine bleach are frequently used in cleansers and automatic dishwasher detergents. Bleach should not be used on wool, silk, dyes sensitive to hypochlorite or on certain stains like rust which it can set.
Cleanser – A cleaning product which generally contains an abrasive, a surfactant and frequently a bleach. Can be powdered or in liquid form.
Concentrate – The undiluted form of a dilutable product.
Contamination – Entry of undesirable organisms into some material or object.
Corrosives – Substances which, on the site of contact, cause skin and eye damage.
Damp mopping – Mopping with a mop which has been submerged in a clean solution containing mild detergent, disinfectant or sanitizing agent then wrung out.
Degreaser – A product specifically designed to remove grease, oil and greasy soils.
Deodorant – A product designed to destroy, mask or eliminate offensive odors.
Detergent – A synthetic cleaning agent (not soap) used in physical removal of soils.
Disinfectant – An agent which destroys harmful bacteria and/or viruses on inanimate surfaces (except spores). Products which claim to be a disinfectant must be registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and say so on the label with an EPA number.
Dry Rot – A condition which results from microorganisms attacking fibers, textiles, carpets and other materials. An attack on natural carpet backing may cause loss of strength that leads to tearing and breaking up.
Dusting Product (for Furniture) – An aerosol or pump which sends out a fine spray onto the surface of a dusting cloth. Some cloths come with the active ingredients already imbedded in them. Dusting products attract , pick up and retain light dust and soil.
Emollient – A substance for softening the skin or making it smooth.
Emulsification – The action of breaking up fats, oils and other soils into small particles which are then suspended in a solution.
Enzyme – Protein molecules produced within an organism that are used a catalysts for biochemical reactions. Enzymes are often used to enhance cleaning products.
Etch – A chemically caused change on the outside of a smooth floor surface which makes the floor texture rough and thereby improving the adhesion of floor finish.
Fading – Loss of color caused by actinic radiation such as sunlight, atmospheric gases and cleaning or bleaching chemicals.
Fastness – Retention of color by carpets and other materials.
Flagged Fibers – Brush or broom fibers that are split at the end to increase cleaning efficiency.
Flammability – The ability of a material to ignite easily and burn quickly. Also used to classify some liquids based on their flash point.
Floor Finish – The top layer of protective floor coatings.
Fungi (Fungus) – Vegetable organisms that lack chlorophyll and are filamentous. Examples are mold, mildew, yeast and mushrooms.
Fungicide – Chemical agent that destroys fungi.
Furniture Cleaner/Polish – A liquid, paste or aerosol spray designed to remove dust and stains from wood surfaces, confer shine and protection against water spots an is formulated to reduce wax buildup with continued use.
Germicide – Any substance (a disinfectant) that kills germs.
Grains Hardness – A measure of hard water. The amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium salts measured in parts per million in a gallon of water.
Grout – Matrix between ceramic tile on walls and floors.
Hard Water – Water containing soluble salts of calcium and magnesium and sometimes iron.
Jute – A natural fiber made from certain plants which grow in warm climates. Used in woven carpet construction as backing for the yarns and twines.
Latex – A water emulsion of synthetic rubber, natural rubber or other polymer used in carpet manufacturing, to laminate backing to carpet.
Linoleum – Floor made of binders, oxidized oil and resinous material which is mixed with ground cork or wood flour and pigment. Applied to a backing of felt, fabric or burlap.
Mildew – A growth, usually white, produced by fungus.
Mold – A woolly growth, produced by fungus.
Neutral – A chemical state which is neither acid nor alkali (base); 7 on the pH scale.
Neutral Cleaner – A non-alkaline, non-acid cleaner.
Non-Chlorine Bleach – A laundry product containing peroxygen compounds which release active oxygen in wash water. Gentler than chlorine bleach.
Oxidation – Combines with oxygen.
Oxidized – Bleached.
Paste Wax – A thick form of wax. Always needs buffing.
pH – A scale which measures degree of acidity or alkalinity of a solution. pH means presence of hydrogen. Scale is 0-14; 7 is neutral. 0-3 is strongly acidic, 4-6 is moderately acidic, 8-10 is moderately alkaline, 11-14 is strongly alkaline.
Phosphate – Water softener, builder and sequestering agent used in detergents.
Phosphoric Acid – Used as a mild bowl acid and in formulations of light duty detergents.
Pine Oil – From the gum of pine trees. Used in hard surface cleaning and disinfecting.
Pumice – Porous volcanic rock, used as an abrasive.
Quaternary Ammonium Compounds – A class of chemicals used as disinfectant, antistat and softening agents (quats).
Residue – Cleaning chemicals or soil left in carpet after the cleaning process.
Resilient Tile – Tile that will withstand shock without permanent damage.
Rinse Agent – A wetting agent used in the last rinse of a dishwasher. Improves draining of water from dishes.
Rust Remover – A cleaner used to remove rust stains from carpet yarn.
Sanitizer – Reduces the number of bacteria to a safe level, but does not completely eliminate them.
Scale – Calcium or mineral deposits in steam boilers and in steam and water pipes.
Soap – A natural cleaning agent produced by the reaction of a fat or oil and an alkali.
Solubility – The tendency for a material to dissolve in another material. Solvents – Used to solubilize other materials.
Spotter – A carpet stain remover.
Stain – A visible discoloration. Stain Repellent – Applied to carpets to help the yarn resist stains.
Stripper – A detergent which breaks the bond of floor wax and finish without damaging the floor.
Surfactant – Surface-active agent which increases the emulsifying, foaming, dispersing, spreading and wetting properties of a product.
Suspension – When a cleaning agent holds insoluble dirt particles in the cleaning solution and keeps it from being redeposited on the clean floor.
Synthetic Detergent – A cleaning product that uses synthetic surfactants rather than traditional soaps.
Terrazzo – A non-resilient floor material made of marble and Portland cement.
Toxic – Substance which causes adverse effects in the body like a poison.
Traffic Lane – High traffic areas which show worn or soiled “lanes”.
Tri-Sodium Phosphate (TSP) – A water softener sometimes used as a cleaning agent.
Use-Dilution – The final concentration at which point the product is used.
Vinyl Asbestos Tile (VAT) – Floor tile made of vinyl resin, plasticizers, asbestos fibers, mineral fillers and color pigment made into a certain thickness and cut into tile sizes.
Viscosity – Thickness of a liquid which determines pourability.
Waterlift – Efficiency rating for vacuums used to pick up water.
Water Hardness – Measure of the amount of metallic salts in water. Hard water can reduce the effectiveness of the cleaning process.
Water Softener – Substance which removes or counteracts the water hardness.
Wax – A natural protective coating for hard surfaces.
Wet Mopping – Using a liberal amount of cleaning solution and mopping. Requires removing of excess solution.
Yellowing – Discoloration of a floor finish due to aging.