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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Zep U37601 Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner & Degreaser 32 Ounces

I discovered ZEP 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 recently found this particular all purpose cleaner made by ZEP in this ultra convenient dispenser bottle that takes any guess work out of mixing your specific dilution ratio. Now you are getting all of what you need (the actual cleaners), and none of what you already have (water)!

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.

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 get this dimension and 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.




KRUD KUTTER KK32/2 Original Concentrated Cleaner/Degreaser, 32-Ounce, 2-Pack

  • Ready to use (2) pack.
  • Effective on virtually any surface, any material (see product labeling for specifics)
  • Water based, non-toxic, biodegradable, non-flammable, and xylene-free. (makes you wonder what's in it that actually cleans...but I know it does in fact work and very effectively also)
  • As easy as easy gets.

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 get this dimension and 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, you can use this product on virtually any material in your car despite manufacturers labeling (ALWAYS test in an inconspicuous area first no matter what product you are using) Just proceed slowly at first if you are fearful at first. As you become familiar with the product, you will begin to discover more and more uses.


Detailing Specific Cleaners:
Concentrate or Ready to Use

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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.


Ready To Use (RTU) Cleaners

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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 that enters into the realm of psychology. So you will have to decide the perfect fit past my suggestions on this page as to which one of the above products seem most ideally suited for you.

  • 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.
  • 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 Detail Sprayers

These are the exact sprayers I use professional and find them the most pleasing to use among all sprayers. If you have seen my YouTube channel videos and notice that my sprayers are gray, this is only due to the fact that I purchase mine in bulk from a different source but these are identical; only a different color.




28mm Gray Chemical Resistant Spray Head 9-1/4" Dip Tube (6-pack)

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.



Chemical Guys ACC_121.16HD-3PK Chemical Resistant Heavy Duty Bottle and Sprayer (16 oz) (Pack of 3)

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.


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