This article is written by Prentice St. Clair, CD-SV, RT Director of Training, P&S Detail Products.
I had the opportunity to talk with P&S Detail Products, in-house chemist, Dave Phillips about Enviro Clean, which he developed in the early 2000s as a response to then-recent changes in the philosophy of blending chemistry for degreasers. Up to that point, all degreasers contained more toxic active ingredients, that, while effective, were more dangerous for the user as well as vehicle surfaces. While these degreasers have their place to this day, Dave endeavored to create an “all-purpose cleaner” that was relatively safe while at the same time equally effective in cleaning and degreasing vehicle surfaces.
Taking cues from cleaners that were being used in the daily cleaning of public transit vehicles in Europe at the time, Dave was able to research and assemble a unique set of active ingredients. Working “deep into the night”, Dave found the right balance of these ingredients, creating an all-purpose cleaner-degreaser that offers low toxicity and higher biodegradability while maintaining effectiveness. In fact, all of the ingredients in Enviro-Clean can be found on the list of “safer choice” chemicals provided by the Environmental Protection Agency.
What follows is information about the make-up and use of Enviro-Clean, compiled from my conversation with “Chemist-on-the-Loose” Dave, my own experiences in using Enviro-Clean for over a decade, and the experiences of other detail technicians with whom I’ve spoken.
How is Enviro Clean Different?
Traditional degreasers use old-fashioned surfactants like butyls, sulfates, and phosphates, which are the more caustic choices that allow these degreasers to work by emulsifying the contaminants so that they can be wiped or rinsed away. Emulsification is the process by which a liquid cleaner breaks down or dissolves a substance (like food fat), thus creating a suspension of the “disintegrated” substance within the cleaning liquid. For a chemical to be able to emulsify oil, grease, and fats requires strong and toxic surfactants that often have a pH of 13-14. Chemicals with this extreme alkalinity can damage automotive surfaces like leather, vinyl, and automotive paint.
In contrast, the more environmentally friendly active ingredients in Enviro-Clean penetrate and encapsulate contaminants, thus loosening them from the material to which they are attached. This makes it easier to pull the contaminants away from the surface by scrubbing, wiping, or rinsing. The surfactants used in Enviro-Clean make the product particularly effective at removing petroleum-based contaminants like oil and grease. Moreover, Enviro-Clean has a pH of about 10, which makes it much less caustic than strong degreasers.
Dave admits that Enviro-Clean is not going to work as well on food fats. But the unique blend of surfactants in Enviro-Clean allows it to stand side-by-side in effectiveness to traditional strong degreasers in removing petroleum-based products like oil and grease, as well as all kinds of soils and dirt. And when you think of it, when we are talking about cleaning cars, that’s really all we need—we’re not cleaning oven hoods and grease traps in restaurants!
So, what we end up with is a general-purpose cleaner-degreaser that is highly effective on the types of soil that we encounter while cleaning vehicles, yet is much safer for the types of surfaces that automotive detailers need to clean. Not to mention Enviro-Clean is safer for the detailing technician!
(Although Enviro Clean is a relatively safe chemical, we always recommend that gloves and eye protection be worn while using it. Any cleaning chemical can have a negative impact if allowed to be absorbed into the skin repeatedly or for extended periods. And any chemical can be harmful if ingested or accidentally splashed in the eyes.)
It is important to realize that Enviro Clean is a concentrate. That means it must be properly diluted with water before using. Dilution can be varied to create a range of strengths of the product out of the same concentrate. The label recommends diluting anywhere from 4:1 up to 20:1. (Reminder: with dilution ratios, the larger number is always the water portion! Thus, a dilution ratio of 4:1 means 4 parts water to 1 part Enviro-Clean—5 parts total.)
Shipping is expensive these days. It’s nice to know that with Enviro-Clean, you are not paying to ship unnecessary amounts of water, which is a very heavy liquid! Instead, you can use your own water, (which costs fractions of a penny per gallon) to dilute Enviro-Clean into “ready-to-use” formulations. And P&S makes the process even simpler by offering pre-labeled bottles into which you can pour your diluted Enviro-Clean.
Whether you call it all-purpose, APC, multi-purpose, general-purpose, or GP cleaner, the whole point of a multi-purpose cleaner-degreaser is to have a product that can be used on multiple surfaces while cleaning a vehicle. To that end, Enviro-Clean fully delivers. Let’s talk about some of the ways that this product can be used for detailing.
In general, Enviro-Clean is to be diluted before use. Also, as with any cleaner-degreaser, it is best to follow with a rinse of the surface that it is applied to, as any remaining product will continue to “work” on the surface. Although Enviro Clean is a very safe cleaner-degreaser, in rare cases, it can cause etching or discoloration if left on the surface for an extended time, especially to the point of drying.
For carpets, Enviro-Clean is an excellent carpet cleaning chemical. Pre-treating carpets with a 10:1 dilution of Enviro-Clean, along with some scrubbing, will loosen dirt and soil so that it can be more easily extracted away with your favorite steam machine or hot water extractor. Be aware, however, that Enviro-Clean is not really a stain remover. (Although it will help reduce the appearance of stains by removing some of the dirt that the stain has attracted, it is recommended that stains be treated with P&S’ Terminator Enzyme Spot and Stain Remover before using Enviro-Clean.)
As an interior cleaner for such surfaces as leather, vinyl, and plastic panels, dilute Enviro-Clean at least 6:1. Enviro-Clean is very effective at removing soil and grime from these surfaces, but it must be used with care. First, never let it dry on the surface. Instead, spray evenly across the surface, allow it to dwell for a moment to let that penetration-encapsulation process happen. Then scrub the area with the appropriate brush or sponge. Follow with a clean microfiber to remove the loosened soil and excess Enviro-Clean. Finally, wipe the area with another microfiber that is damp with only water.
(Some detailing technicians find the requirement of a final “rinsing wipe” to be overly onerous while cleaning leather and vinyl surfaces. For these folks, we recommend using P&S’ Xpress Interior cleaner, which is perfect for plastic, leather, and vinyl, and requires no rinsing!)
On the outside of the vehicle, Enviro-Clean is great for engines, wheels and tires, and door jambs.
As an engine degreaser, technicians will find that Enviro-Clean is effective and easy to use. For normally dirty engines or door jambs, a 4:1 dilution will work just fine. (Some may prefer a stronger solution of 3:1 for heavier grease and oil cleaning, although we do not recommend this dilution strength for everyday use.) Spray the diluted Enviro-Clean across the area and allow to dwell for several minutes (without drying, of course!). Then scrub as necessary and fully rinse with a pressure washer.
For cleaning the “dirty” parts of the vehicle exterior, like door jambs, wheels, tires, and wheel wells, use the same 4:1 dilution ratio and process that is used to clean the engine compartment.
Enviro-Clean is also an excellent bug remover. Spray the 4:1 solution across the front of the car, fully coating the buggy area. If possible, let it dwell for several minutes, re-misting occasionally to prevent the chemical from drying! You will find that, with the right scrubbing sponge, most bugs will come right off. Of course, follow-up with a full rinsing of the area.
Readers will note that I am particularly fond of the 4:1 dilution setting for Enviro-Clean. So, I typically have a pre-labeled spray bottle in my wash bucket that is also marked “4:1” with a Sharpie. Feel free to experiment with higher dilutions (e.g., 5:1 on up to 8:1), which may work just fine for the typical dirty car that comes into your shop. And you’ll save some money!
As you can see, Enviro-Clean is a perfect all-purpose cleaner for use in automotive detailing. Not only is it effective, but it is also safe for the vehicle surfaces and for the technician.
And with P&S, you always know you consistently get the best product available. Arguably, Enviro-Clean needs no improvement yet Dave continues to look for ways to improve Enviro Clean. It will only get better!
Hey guys at Sydni here from P&S Detail Products. And today I want to talk about one of our new but old products. It’s, Enviro-Clean and Enviro-Clean clean is a highly dilutable, all-purpose cleaner. And it’s been around for many years, but it just recently got a revamp and moved into the ChemTrol line. So while it has a ton of different uses, here are some of our favorites.
So as a detailer, whether you’re a professional or a pro-amateur, one of the most important products you can have is a good all-purpose cleaner, or what’s known as an APC. So it’s hard to believe that P&S is a 60-year old detailing product company now, 60 years. And every once in a while, we like to go back and revisit some of the legacy products. And what we dug out was a product that I’m blown away by and that’s been Enviro-Clean. So, and Enviro Clean is a really cool product that you can take and dilute. So on dirty mats and interiors, I’m going to take and use it at ten to one, but on engines, get this on engines or wheel Wells or arches. Something really nasty is you can actually use it six to one or eight to one, and it’s going to work great.
And so what I’m going to do, the first thing I’m gonna do is I’m gonna go ahead and with Enviro-Clean is I am going to come through and I’m going to pretreat the mat. And what I like to do is kind of presoak it real quick. And then just to kind of get the gunk off there is I’m just going to go in and just wipe it down. Okay. And this map, this is straight out of our work truck. This is straight out of the old shop truck, a swirl salt truck. And so I’m going to come through and I’m just going to take and hit it. And you can already see soils that it’s lifted up. Now it’s winter right now in big bear Lake. And it is nasty. We’ve had a lot of snow. So next I’m going to spray it again.
Dwell time’s going to be minimal. And then what I’m going to do is I’m going to cheat anybody that knows me, knows that I am into steam. I absolutely love steam. So we’re going to come through. What I would do is just come over there, just get it. I got the big brush on right now, again, because I want to cheat a little bit, pretty much. That’s it. And then what I’m going to do is cheat just a little bit more, and I’m going to get one of our double black boar’s hairs, and I’m going to come around all these little tight areas. And so it’s really cool.
All right. So I’ve got the map all cleaned up, right? So now what I’m gonna do it one more time and Enviro-Clean spray it down and you and you can see, I left some of the water on it from the steamer, and I’m going to come through and kind of suck that up and I’ll get them to come in and close, check this out, you guys. And so you can see already the difference, but now I’m going to show you a little cheater way.
All right. So here’s a little trick and I’m sure that we’re going to get Sydni and Kyle. They’re going to show you some other stuff that we use Enviro-Clean for. What I’m going to do now is I’ve got the mat pretty much clean. I’m just going to mist it with Enviro clean, right? But now what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna come back through with our dynamic dressing four to one. Now check this out. This is a dressing. You’re saying, hold on here. It’s going to be slick. It’s going to be slippery. No, it’s not. I’m going to top it off again with a little more. And Enviro clean, I’m going to come back over. I’m going to get a fresh towel. And what I’m gonna do is I’m going to come in here and blend all that in there. And what it’s doing is the Enviro clean kind of canceling out the dressing and you can see we’ll get in here real tight. And look at that, that mat looks amazing. And guess what? It’s not slippery. All right guys, again, one of my favorite things, good APC. Use it with a little dynamic and I’m really excited to see what Kyle and Sydni come up with. So guys check it out.
Hey everybody, this is Kyle Clark with P&S Detail Products. And I’m really excited to show you one of my favorite products. Now I’m a mobile detailer and I do a lot of nasty cars and Enviro clean is what gets the job done fast for me now, I love our product express interior cleaner. That’s what I use for maintenance, but Enviro-Clean is going to kill it for you. So I love using my scrub pad and our detail factory Boar’s hairbrush. When I’m doing a door panel like this, when they’re really bad, I’ll soak it. This one’s not terribly bad. So what I’m gonna do is I’m actually gonna spray it on my scrub pad, saturate it first.
Then give this section a little pre-scrub, and I’m gonna go ahead and shoot a little on my brush too. So I’ll use the scrub pad for the big flat areas, and it will just mow down that dirt and grime. You can see I’ll use my detailed brush around here, especially around like the buttons get down in the door handle and in these tight spots. So I use Enviro-Clean pretty much daily. Um, it has a lot of uses. You can clean anything with Enviro clean. I just did an engine today. So I encourage you to give Enviro clean a chance, check it out and you’ll get great results like I do.
All right. So one of the best uses for Enviro-Clean is to clean dirty door jams and these kicked panels here. So I’m going to show you how I would do that. All right. So I’m going to spray the door jam and that kick panel liberally with the Enviro clean. Then I’m going to grab my synthetic brush from the detail factory. And I’m going to get in all those tight cracks and crevices between the plastic panels. Then I grabbed my interior scrub Mitt and give that whole piece a really good scrub where our shoes and dirt build up between those grooves. Then I will grab my very favorite tool, which is a steamer. So the steamer is not only going to help you blow out those cracks and crevices of all the dirt and sand, but it’s also going to activate the Enviro clean and help get rid of any of the remaining dirt and grime that has built up in those areas. And then I just rinse down the entire door jam with the steamer and the Enviro clean. And that just leaves behind a nice rinsed surface that shines. And that’s going to help dirt not stick to it in the future. So this is my very favorite way to clean a dirty door jamb.
You can find Enviro clean and many other great products from P&S at DetailedImage.com.