What Is pH Neutral Cleaner, and How Do You Use It?

Paige Bennett
Written by Paige Bennett
Updated July 12, 2022
marble countertops in kitchen
Photo: Summer Galyan


  • pH neutral cleaners are best for cleaning surfaces made of stone or wood.

  • These cleaners work for counters, floors, or backsplash.

  • pH neutral cleaners cost about $10 to $25 per gallon.

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Picture this: Your new stone countertops look amazing in your kitchen, but then something dreadful happens: you swipe across the surface with a cleaning cloth and your go-to lemon and vinegar cleaner, only to discover that it leaves the stone discolored and etched. 

As it turns out, cleaners that are too acidic or too alkaline can ruin natural stone countertops and tiles. That’s why it’s crucial to learn how to properly use a pH neutral cleaner if you want to preserve the look and feel of your smooth, sleek stone surfaces.

What Is pH Neutral Cleaner?

A pH neutral cleaner falls right in the middle of the pH scale. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with more acidic materials ranging from 0 to 6.9 and more alkaline materials ranging from 7.1 to 14. A pH neutral cleaner will have a pH of 7, making it safe to use on sensitive surfaces, like those made from natural stone.

Some surfaces are vulnerable to damage when they come into contact with acidic or alkaline cleaning solutions. But pH neutral products can efficiently clean these sensitive surfaces without causing burning, which leaves discoloration on the surface, or etching, which strips a smooth, shiny surface like stone, leaving it rough and dull.

When to Use a pH Neutral Cleaner

If your floors, walls, or countertops are made of natural stone slabs or tiles, it’s time to break out the pH neutral cleaner. But a pH neutral cleaner isn’t just good for stone surfaces. While this type of cleaner will prevent etching, which turns the surface rough, or discoloration on natural stone, you can also use it on other materials, including:

  • Untreated wood

  • Grout

  • Hardwood floors

  • Vinyl

  • PVC

That’s not to say acidic or alkaline cleaners are bad, either. Acidic cleaners are great for removing mineral buildup, like rust or calcium. Alkaline cleaners can cut through tough grease stains and dirt. But these powerful cleaners aren’t great for all types of floors, countertops, or backsplash, especially natural stone.

How to Use pH Neutral Cleaner

While it’s best to put on rubber gloves before cleaning the house, one great benefit of using a pH neutral cleaner is that it poses less risk of causing skin irritation if it comes in contact with your hands. This type of cleaner is meant for hard surfaces, but you can spray it safely near or around soft surfaces, like where hardwood floors meet a rug, without staining or bleaching those soft surfaces.

If you’re not feeling particularly confident about using pH neutral cleaner, you can hire a local cleaning service to safely, efficiently clean the natural stone and other sensitive surfaces in your home.

Where to Find pH Neutral Cleaner

You can find pH neutral cleaners at most home improvement stores or online for around $10 to $25 per gallon. The label should say pH neutral, but you should also check the ingredients list to ensure the product doesn’t include phosphates, silicates, or hydroxides. To use these store-bought pH neutral cleaners, follow the instructions on the label.

DIY pH Neutral Cleaner

You can also make a pH neutral cleaner at home using cleaning supplies you probably already have around your house. Follow these simple steps to create your own.

  • Add 1/4 cup of pH neutral dish detergent to a cleaning bucket.

  • Mix in 1 gallon of warm water until suds form.

  • Be sure to test the cleaner in an inconspicuous spot before applying it to sensitive surfaces.

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