Lightning in a Bottle: The All-Purpose Cleanerby Michael Mankarious
The “all-in-one”. The “all-purpose cleaner”. The APC: it’s the product that does it all. Every detailer is looking for ways to streamline the number of products they’re using. It saves time, reduces shelf clutter, which in turn reduces expenses, and even makes ordering product simpler. One and done.
The term “all-purpose cleaner” is a broad term indicating that a product is geared for handling a spectrum of different cleaning tasks within a specified range of a larger field of cleaning duties.
In the case of Nextzett‘s all-purpose cleaner called Blitz (German for “lightning”), its effectiveness lies within the range of removing dirt and organic based contaminants such as fats and proteins. Another all-purpose cleaner might be better at tackling oil and carbon-based contaminants (like soot and exhaust pipe residue) while another APC might be better at removing inorganic contaminants like limescale. No APC can cover a super wide range of tasks. The wider it gets, the less of a quality job it will carry out – a Jack of all trades, master of none.
An APC’s specialty is going to be determined based on its blend of surfactants (detergents), carriers, and so on. When a chemist sets out to create an APC, they must choose a range of cleaning tasks they want their APC to focus on. This is the protocol with all products but you’re aiming for a wider range of duties when producing the recipe for an APC. A quick way to get an idea of where a cleaner will do best is by looking at its pH level at full concentration.
If you need a refresher from those days in chemistry, pH (in simplest terms) is a scale from 0 to 14 that indicates the acidity or alkalinity of a substance.
0 is the most acidic and 14 is the most alkaline. 7 is neutral which is where pure water exists. Most of your soaps are in the 8-11 pH range. There are some “soaps” that are pH neutral which technically means they are around pH 7 (pH 8 is close enough to be considered pH neutral), and they are better at removing hard water minerals in comparison to the soaps in the 8-11 range.
Both extreme ends of the pH scale are caustic and should be used with care following the manufacturer’s direction for use.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the pH level is not always indicative of how well a product will clean and two products with the same pH level may not clean exactly the same way. Also, a very high or very low pH doesn’t necessarily mean a more effective cleaner. Balance of ingredients is very important to make an effective cleaner. Nevertheless, knowing the pH level is a good place to start in seeing whether the cleaner is up to the task or if you’re asking too much of the product.
To find the pH of a product, you’ll need to request an SDS (Safety Data Sheet) from the manufacturer. On the nextzett site, we have a link to all of our SDS in the footer of our website at www.nextzettusa.com. When looking at the SDS, refer to Section 9. This is the section that provides details on the physical and chemical properties of the product. The pH will be listed at full concentration prior to dilution (unless otherwise stated).
Blitz is a considered a low pH alkaline based cleaner (10.4 – at full concentration). Since it’s a concentrate, you’ll be mixing it with water at various dilution ratios based on the cleaning strength you require and therefore this will reduce the pH level as you add more water to the mixture.
You can use Blitz for a number of tasks including cleaning plastic, upholstery, sensitive fabrics (such as Alcantara® and microfiber), as a pre-cleaner prior to washing a vehicle and even as a wheel cleaner.
The most popular use for Blitz is interior cleaning of upholstery, dashboards, and headliners. When applied by a spray bottle, mix around 1:20-1:30. That’s about 1 oz of Blitz per quart of water for a 1:30 ratio. While Blitz remains effective even when mixed with hard water, we always suggest using distilled water whenever possible. You don’t want Blitz working against the very thing it’s mixed in.
Another popular use for Blitz is cleaning rubber floor mats. The level of contamination will determine the concentration you will use. 1:20 is a good starting point.
While an all-purpose cleaner can really help your efficiency, you still need task specific products in your arsenal of products. For instance, in the nextzett line we have two other interior products with very specific tasks that Blitz is not capable of doing.
Blitz vs. Cockpit Premium and Plastic Deep Cleaner
You might be familiar with two other products in our interior cleaner line-up: Cockpit Premium and Plastic Deep Cleaner. So how does Blitz compare with these two products?
Cockpit Premium vs. Blitz
Cockpit Premium is our most popular interior cleaner and differs in that it’s a ready to use product. It’s meant for one task and that’s cleaning and protecting all dashboard components, armrests, and AV screens.
Cockpit Premium is a light cleaner, leaves a protective, low shine finish (a factory finish) that protects against the fading effects of heat and repels dust. You can use to clean all clear plastic and it won’t smear or leave any water marks.
You can use Blitz to clean the dashboard, but it has no finish, will not protect against fading, and doesn’t repel dust. Blitz might leave water marks on clear plastic if you don’t do a thorough wipe down.
Bottom line: Blitz is a general cleaner and Cockpit Premium is a finishing treatment
Plastic Deep Cleaner vs. Blitz
Plastic Deep Cleaner is exactly what the name says, it’s a deep cleaning solution. It is a stronger cleaner than Blitz and Cockpit with a pH of 11. It’s a ready to use solution that is not meant to be diluted. If you feel the temptation to dilute, it’s important to know that diluting it will upset the very balance at which it was formulated to work and will be less effective.
Plastic Deep Cleaner’s specialty is in removing grime and stain build up; especially oil-based stains whether it’s from oily skin or rubber soled shoes. If Blitz can’t take out the grime (even at its most undiluted mixture), then you’ll want to reach for Plastic Deep Cleaner.
Plastic Deep Cleaner can remove rubber scuff marks from plastic panels, stubborn grimy dirt build-up on seatbelts and even blue jean stains on leather seats. Did I say leather? Yes! If it’s coated leather (the coating is a polyurethane clear coat), then you can use Plastic Deep Cleaner to remove blue jean stains and grime on seats. We must give the disclaimer to “always test in a hidden area first to test for color fastness” before applying over the entire surface. A tip to the parents, Plastic Deep Cleaner is magical at removing crayons (which are wax based) from walls!
After cleaning stubborn grime with Plastic Deep Cleaner, keep it clean by maintaining with Blitz or Cockpit Premium. Again, use Cockpit if you want the surface to have a finished look and protection from fading.
Bottom line: When Blitz can’t clean the grime or stain, reach for Plastic Deep Cleaner to take it out. It doesn’t leave a protective finish, so you’ll want to finish off with Cockpit Premium.
Think of chemists like chefs. Every product created is a precise balance of ingredients with the mission of performing a specific task in the best possible way. With all-purpose cleaners it’s more challenging since the range of tasks is wider. With concentrates, the user also participates in creating the final version. With Blitz you can take the same formula and make it into a spot cleaner, a headliner cleaner or a wheel cleaner.
All-purpose cleaners can help increase your efficiency, reduce clutter, and maximize profits. When choosing your next all-purpose cleaner, it’s important to know in advance what range of cleaning you’re looking to simplify and the type of materials you’re cleaning. You’ll be disappointed when an APC designed to remove hard water minerals does a poor job of removing grease and carbon soot.
Finally, before choosing an all-purpose cleaner, determine what areas of your detailing routine you’d like to streamline and if you have too many products that seem to do the same thing. Then speak with the manufacturer to see if they have a product that will serve as a replacement. Hopefully you’ll find your lightning in a bottle!
Excellent write-up, Michael! I’ve been using all 3 products for years. It’s nice to see someone shining a light on Blitz.
Thanks Peter! Much appreciated.
Very helpful write up as i was comparing these products after a long time use of cockpit premium and the plastic deep cleaner. In my method I spray directly on surface and hit the clear plastics of the interior with cockpit premium. Thanks to this write up I avoided a potentially unfortunate event staining my clear plastics!
Hi Mark, it won’t stain permanently but it might leave a residue or watermarks on the surface. Definitely not a clean, smear-free finish like you’d get from Cockpit Premium (or a dust repelling one either). So no need to be concerned about getting any Blitz on any clear plastic. You’ll just have to clean up any overspray. If you ever have any questions, just let me know.