In most cases, you can clean and protect your vehicle with just a few basic car cleaning products. In this article, you will learn some of the science behind auto detail supplies so that you can clean your car the right way.
The soil can be organic, non-organic or petroleum. It is important to know. If you can identify the soil you are dealing with, you can use the right cleaner. When you use the right cleaner, most stains disappear easily.
Let’s take organic soil as an example. Organic basically means that it contains carbon. Stains in this group include protein, animal fat, body oil, mold, yeast, insects, bacteria, and droppings. The classic example is the batch of hot potato chips your three-year-old spilled on the back seat. That is an organic dirt stain.
Non-organic soil has no carbon molecules. Most of the time we find these stains on the exterior of the vehicle. A good example that frustrates most of us from time to time is mineral water stains. Acid rain stains also fall into this category.
Finally we come to oil. These soils come from substances that do not contain or cannot be mixed with water. Motor oil, grease, and road tar are the most common petroleum soils. Keep in mind that chewing gum is also a petroleum soil.
Now that you know the three types of stains, we can start talking about cleaners. Let me tell you, there are many. Unfortunately, no one has invented a true general purpose car cleaner. Due to the many different surfaces and floors, automotive cleaners are complex mixtures of chemicals for a particular type of surface or floor. The most commonly used chemicals include surfactants, solvents, wetting agents, saponifiers, and chelators.
Soaps and detergents are made with a surfactant. It is an agent that has two compounds. One molecule is attracted to soil, while the other loves water. The compound that attracts water is hydrophilic. Your job is to circle the ground. The soil attracting agent is hydrophobic. Its purpose is to break up the soil so that the hydrophilic can reach it and make it float.
All cleaners need a solvent of one type or another to dissolve dirt and carry it away. Some solvents, including mineral spirits, work on petroleum-based soils and may be needed on water-damaged surfaces. Did you know that the most used solvent in cleaners is water?
Speaking of water, any solution that is water-based or mixed with water has a pH level. The term pH is simply a measure of the ratio of hydrogen ions to hydroxyl ions. When you have more hydrogen ions than hydroxyl ions, that’s an acid. Similarly, if it has more hydroxyl ions than hydrogen ions, it is an alkali. Knowing this is important because any cleaner that falls on either end of the pH scale can cause serious damage.
The pH scale runs from 0 to 14. The lower half of the scale represents acids and the upper half represents alkalis. As you may have guessed, water is neutral and has a pH of 7.0.
If you know the pH of a cleaner, you will know where you can use it. A carpet shampoo should have a pH of around 8 or 9, while an all-purpose wheel cleaner should be between 12 and 14. Try using a cleaner made for wheels on fabric and your car carpet will make a pretty big mess. .
Now that you know the basics, you can better understand why there are so many car cleaning products and auto detailing supplies. Your vehicle has many different surfaces and they have different cleaning requirements. You can avoid using harsh cleaners by using basic protection. Wax the exterior several times a year and protect the interior with suitable products. For the ultimate in protection, use an outdoor car cover or waterproof car cover when parking outside.