Always select a chemical / cleaner that are biodegradable, environmentally friendly and safe to use by observing any precautions recommended so that they won’t harm you, your vehicle or the environment. Read the product labels and manufacturers safety data sheets (MSDS) to obtain a basic idea of contents, pH levels etc.
The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) course description addresses cleaning techniques as a - Chemical, Heat, Agitation, Time (CHAT) process, which covers any material cleaning for professional on-location cleaners, restoration and inspection service providers, as well as other related industries.
a) Organic stains- these include proteins and fats, body oils, mould yeast, bacteria, bugs and carbohydrates. Organic soil is cleaned with an alkaline (pH 8+). Most of the stains found in the vehicle interior are of an organic nature and require an alkaline type cleaner. Some organic stains (i.e. milk, blood, vomit, urine) should be removed with an enzyme type cleaner and a disinfectant applied to the area
b) Non-Organic stains- mostly found on the exterior of the vehicle, hard water scale (calcium) lime deposits, Road tar, grease and oil film, and require an acid (pH 6 or less) type cleaner.
c) Petroleum soils - substances that do not contain water, nor are they miscible, these soil types include, motor oils, and crease and road tar, and require a petroleum-based solvent type cleaner.
a) Water Soluble Stains- These stains can be dissolved in cool water or loosened with water based cleaner, coffee; soft drinks, cocoa and chocolate are good examples.
b) Oil soluble stains- These are stains that are comprised of oily or greasy substances, which include cooking, oil from fried foods and suntan oil.
c) Combination Stains- These stains contain both water based and oil-soluble properties. Cleaning these stains require treatment with a petroleum solvent followed by a water- based cleaning solution.
d) Unidentifiable Stains- Sometimes stains cannot be identified. Treat these stains like a combination stain. Clean with a petroleum solvent followed by water based cleaner.
As can be seen with the above lists an all-purpose cleaner will probably not clean stains effectively (Most are butyl based, which is a huge known carcinogen) An all-purpose cleaner (APC) (pH 9.5 – 12.5 dependent upon mfg.) is an aggressive, grease-cutting cleaner for engine compartments and wheels. It’s better to use a specific stain remover than to compromise. Always select a chemical / cleaner that are biodegradable, environmentally friendly and safe to use by observing any precautions recommended so that they won’t harm you, your vehicle or the environment
Be cognizant that not all stains can be removed as they may have 'dyed' the material. This is dependant upon the amount of 'contact' time and the type of material
Some stains require an acid, some an enzyme, some others require an alkaline cleaner and some a solvent type cleaner and etc. It is chemically impossible to combine all these cleaners into a single chemical. An all-purpose cleaner is a marketing myth
A thorough stain removal / cleaning process would require the following; the correct chemical cleaner, heat, agitation and water to act as a carrier system and as a final rinse. With all cleaning products (especially solvents) always test a small inconspicuous area first to ensure it won't discolour, stain or etch the surface, and ensure that the pH of the product is suitable for the material
Before cleaning a stain ascertain the material and try detergent and water before using a specific cleaner. Start with a 10:1 solution and decrease dilution as necessary; 303™ Spot & Stain Remover, P21S® High Performance Total Auto Wash or einszett Vinyl-Rubber Care’ between these cleaners you should be able to remove 99% of stains occurring in a vehicle fabrics and around the vehicle interior. Once fabric is clean applying a fabric protection. 303™ High Tech Fabric Guard and UV Protection, 303™ Aerospace Protectant to all surfaces
All-purpose cleaner (APC)
Many well-intentioned detailers use the so-called all-purpose cleaning (APC) chemical for detailing. A safer alternate is a d-limonene (citrus-based) solvent, they are biodegradable, environmentally friendly and safe to use. There is no such thing as a one size fits all type chemical cleaner, regardless of what a car care product vendor would have you believe.
Most detailing chemicals are formulated to remove specific stains and a little knowledge of their pH and chemical content will help in their correct selection and use; the most common types of chemicals include surfactants, solvents, wetting agents, Saponifiers and Chelators
With all cleaning products (especially solvents) always test a small inconspicuous area first to ensure it won't discolour, stain or etch the surface, and ensure that the pH of the product is suitable for the material.
Interiors - use caution if using an APC on finished leather as it may compromise the polyurethane protective layer. Also be cognizant that with re-dyed finished leather if it has not been properly prepared and applied an APC will strip the pigmentation (colour)
Stain removal requires some knowledge of basic chemistry. Read the product labels and always select a chemical / cleaner that are biodegradable, environmentally friendly and safe to use by observing any precautions recommended so that they won’t harm you, your vehicle or the environment. (See also Vehicle Interior Detailing and Solvents)
Before using a cleaning product, a detailer needs to know the material they are working on, what they are trying to remove and wither the product chosen is compatible with the material and will not damage it.
Diagnosis is the key, not guess work. With all cleaning products, always test a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it won't discolour or stain the surface, and ensure that the pH of the product is suitable for the material. As can be seen stain removal requires some knowledge of basic chemistry. Read the product labels and manufacturers safety data sheets (MSDS) to obtain a basic idea of contents, pH levels etc.
Always select a chemical / cleaner that are biodegradable, environmentally friendly and safe to use by observing any precautions recommended so that they won’t harm you, your vehicle or the environment
To be of real practical use, a subject like automotive detailing requires a great deal of research, and updating as new products become available. The advent of materials like detailing clay, micro fibre technologies and finely milled micro diminishing abrasives, suitable for ceramic nanotechnology paints are examples of why it’s so important to monitor the industries new products, chemical technologies and ideas that are constantly being introduced, as are the techniques for applying them, hence all of the in-depth articles will be up-dated and revised on a regular basis
Always be willing to learn; because the more you learn, the more you’ll realize what you don’t know. You should never stop learning, and your quest for information should be part of your everyday process. It is said that knowledge is power, with the caveat that it includes access to a reliable information sources. I would like to think that these articles become an asset to anyone who is new to detailing and to professional’s alike, as well as industry experts who seek to advance their knowledge.
I purchase all the products I use, so the endorsement is entirely personal and commercially unbiased, the product recommendation is based on "Does exactly what it says on the box" and it suits my detailing goals.
I hope these articles are informative. They are based on the current status of technical development as well as my experience with the products.
By having some understanding of the ‘What’ and ‘Why’ as well as the ‘How’ along with a little science to help you understand how the chemicals we use react, you can achieve the results you desire.
I would appreciate it if you would share these articles as it helps other detailers further their knowledge.
As always if you have questions, I’ll do my best to answer; bear in mind the only stupid questions is the one that was unasked. Questions and/ or constructive comments are always appreciated
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