All Purpose Cleaner:
Simplifying the world of car care!

best auto detailing tips tag line

Staying true to the philosophy of "detailing made simple", all purpose cleaners fit right into the concept of simplification.

Instead of filling your garage shelves with endless dedicated cleaners of every kind, now you can eliminate many of the dedicated cleaners by choosing a quality cleaner that is suited for many car cleaning and detailing tasks; hence the label all-Purpose, multi-purpose, or even multi-surface cleaners.

Of course the industry has gone to great lengths to convince you that dedicated cleaners are the "real" way to go and the more professional approach. And if you are enamored with the idea of filling your garage with countless cleaners, polishes, and waxes as some form of badge of honor, then the concept of simplification is likely not part of your world.

Personally, I am always looking for easier and simpler!


Cleaning Made Simple

cleaning car all purpose cleaner

When it comes to an all purpose cleaner, you have two basic choices:

  1. Ready to use (RTU)
  2. Concentrate (You must mix with your supplied water based on manufacturers labeling)

Now regardless of your demands, you have a choice that can be ideally suited for your needs. Some people have extremely limited need for a product and simply want a ready to use product that comes complete with sprayer and cleaner. No worrying about dilution ratios, spray bottles, sprayer heads, etc. But everything in life comes with trade-off's as I like to call them. The ready to use all purpose cleaners are as easy as easy can get, but they are not as economical as a concentrate that will make much more, and ultimately costing much less than a ready to use cleaner.

Like I said; "Trade-off's"...


General All-Purpose Cleaners:
Concentrates and Ready to Use

Many guys will want an all-purpose cleaner that is specific to auto detailing and cars in general (see below). But when it comes to all purpose cleaners, I really don't overthink this area of life or car care for that matter. So see my reviews below and you can decide for yourself.


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Simple Green 13005CT Industrial Cleaner and Degreaser, Concentrated, 127.8 Fl Oz, Pack of 1

I discovered Simple Green products years ago and are available at countless retail outlets. But now with the amazing convenience of Amazon, I pretty much go to Amazon first for virtually anything (If I had bought stock in Amazon years ago I may not be writing this right now). I now use this all-purpose cleaner on so many jobs of the auto detailing process.

Almost endless uses with the ability to custom blend for exact desired cleaning power:

  • Carpeting, cloth, and fabric shampooing and cleaning.
  • Car leather cleaning.
  • Velour headliners to high-end Alcantara lined interiors.
  • Virtually anything that gets dirty, can be cleaned with this all-purpose cleaner.
  • Now you can mix up a little, or mix up a lot based on your specific needs.
  • Ideal for endless cleaning jobs whether you are cleaning the car or cleaning around the house.
  • Also safe to your health and the health of our environment.

Darren's Tip: Experience has taught me that people will become nervous when using a traditional all purpose cleaner on or in their car rather than what is labeled as a dedicated car upholstery shampoo or cleaner. I understand this concern.

Just know that all purpose cleaners do not have to be over-thought. (The very same chemicals are used almost universally regardless of the application: house cleaning, car cleaning, office cleaning, carpet cleaning, etc.) With that said, because this is a concentrate, you can dilute this product to be as aggressive as you want, or as mild as you want. If you are fearful about using this on a particular area of material of your car, then you simply dilute it down to be more mild until you become familiar with it and you are comfortable to make adjustments to your dilution ration.




Simple Green 19128 Crystal Industrial Cleaner/Degreaser, 1 Gallon Bottle

  • Simple Green formulated to a higher level of "tough on dirt"
  • Also a concentrate ideal for custom dilution ratios based on your needs
  • I use this formulation (also a concentrate so you can custom blend) for tougher cleaning jobs like cleaning wheels and engines
  • Rinses perfectly clean (my favorite wheel cleaner these days)

Detailing Specific Cleaners:
Concentrate

I accept that there are those of you that simply want to stick to dedicated car care products. I completely understand.

For this reason I include the following options for you.



Chemical Guys CWS10316 Fabric Clean Carpet and Upholstery Shampoo and Odor Eliminator - 16 oz.

  • Another economical choice in an all-purpose cleaner.
  • Concentrate formulation which means you can custom blend to your desired strength.
  • Safe for virtually anything that gets dirty.
  • Smaller sized concentrate for those of you not wanting to go level 10 with many of the professional grade detail cleaners that require you to buy in a gallon size.


Detail Specific:
Ready To Use (RTU) Cleaners

Any of the ready to use all purpose cleaners (all purpose cleaners are essentially the same as carpet, upholstery, or fabric cleaners) can be used to clean virtually any water safe material. And "water safe" means virtually most anything other than un-coated leathers. And with that said; any leather in your car is what is consider coated or treated leather which means it has been coated with a clear protective layer that makes these leathers so friendly for cleaning and long term durability.



Chemical Guys SPI_993_16 Nonsense Colorless and Odorless All Surface Cleaner (16 oz)



303 (30207) Multi-Surface Cleaner Trigger Sprayer, 32 Fl. oz.



Griot's Garage 10956 Interior Cleaner 22oz

  • For those of you wanting to keep life super simple.
  • Ready to use; no diluting required. (the Chemical Guys cleaner can be diluted down)
  • Safe for all surfaces within your car; yes, even car leather.
  • Will handle 95% of all cleaning needs within your car. If you are looking for heavy duty cleaning abilities, you will have to see this page: Heavy Duty car upholstery cleaning


All Purpose Cleaner:
Darren's Professional Tips:

The simple answer for you and your world really comes down to two options:

  1. Concentrate
  2. Ready-to-use

Since every product on this page will work and be safe for virtually any cleaning requirements of your car, you really don't need to overthink it when it comes to an all purpose cleaner for your car. Everyone is different and has a different perspective on products to clean with. I hav given you plenty of options; you simply need to decide which seems to be the best fit for you and your world:

  • Follow manufacturers directions as your starting point. (this should always be your default)
  • Will not leave sticky residue when used according to manufacturers directions; regardless of what you may have heard or read from misinformed people with no experience. (this is mostly in reference to using any of these products for car upholstery shampooing)
  • For specific cleaning and shampooing tips, see how to clean car upholstery.  
  • Don't forget the dedicated Meguiar's spray bottle and the professional sprayers below.
  • If you think a carpet extractor is the only way for cleaning then think again; don't under-estimate how much dirt you can clean away from following the simple steps of: pre-vacuum, spray all-purpose cleaner, scrub with upholstery brush, and mop up with cloth. Repeat until desired results are achieved. Light applications are much better than unrealistically thinking you are going to get it all in one go with over-saturation of the area you are cleaning.
  • A trick of the industry and one of my own professional "tricks" is to always apply a fabric protector after each cleaning. This will make all your subsequent cleaning efforts far easier than ever!


Professional Sprayers and Bottles

Based on your world, you will either need just the spray heads above if you already have bottles at home to mix the all purpose cleaners in, or in many case you will need both the spray bottle and spray head. Use the link below to get the highly rated sprayer bottles and spray heads to use with any and all the cleaners you decide to use.



Bar5F Empty Plastic Spray Bottles 32 oz, Chemical Resistant, Professional, Heavy Duty, Fully Adjustable Head Sprayer, Pack of 3 (Grey)

All-Purpose Cleaners:
Watch Darren in action

If you are looking to simplify your world, any of these cleaners are an excellent starting point. Watch any one of my many videos on YouTube where I show actual techniques I use in my professional world of auto detailing.


Wheel Cleaning with Simple Green Crystal



Car Leather Cleaning with Simple Green (Original formula)



Car Upholstery Cleaning with Simple Green (Original formula)

If you take the time to watch any of the videos, you will likely begin to see why I use the products I do and how effective they are.

I wish you much success in your detailing efforts!

Sincerely,

Darren Priest signature

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