The Science of Spot Removal

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The guest post for today is none other than my daughter, Alaina! She has her science fair at school today and as she was getting for school today she said I should put her experiment and findings on my blog. Wish granted, baby girl! So proud of you for working so hard!

Now You See It, Now You Don’t
The Science of Spot Removal

It was my intention to find the best type of cleaner that would remove stains caused by food and dirt. I chose to use three types of cleaners. I used Borax, Clorox and OxiClean.

My hypothesis is that the OxiClean will remove the stains the best because the oxygen will help break up the stain. This will give it an advantage and make it easier to remove.

I chose to experiment on two types of surfaces. I applied ketchup, chocolate syrup, permanent marker and dirt to knit cotton fabric and also to carpet. I let each stain set for 30 minutes and then cleaned each sample according to the directions of each cleaner. All of the directions instructed me to let all of the cleaners sit and absorb into the fabric for 10 minutes before cleaning. I scrubbed each sample for up to 2 minutes until the surfaces were rid of each cleaner.

I was very surprised to find the Borax was the winner. I decided to research the components of Borax, it is a naturally occurring mineral, sodium tetaborate. I found that it is also a boric acid. I found that it worked best because when used it uses enzymes that help break apart the stain molecules and it digests the proteins and fats just like when you eat foods. This type of a cleaner is known as an oxidizer.

I interviewed an expert in the cleaning field and he told me that to truly find the best cleaner it was all about identifying the stain on the PH Scale. He showed me that it is goes from 0-14 and all spots and removers rank on this scale. He said that they are either an acid or a base (alkaline) and that to clean something we need to get it to be a 7 or a neutral. If you have a spot that is very acidic you will want to clean with a higher base.

In conclusion I learned that there is no such thing as stain removal as stains are permanent. But, spot removal is highly effective when you can determine the cause of the spot and it’s PH factor. There is even an app for that! Spot Removal AppWhen taking this extra time you will find better results instead of trial and error that could lead to worsening the spot. While my original hypothesis was wrong, I learned a more important lesson in chemistry and it led me to a better outcome for all future spots that need removing in my future.

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