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tips for cleaning anything

pauleyman

DSM Wiseman
8,297
2,843
Nov 19, 2011
oklahoma city, Oklahoma
After searching around I had an idea. I'm starting a cleaning tips and tricks thread. (suggestions for editing the title for searchability??)
Any new post to this thread I suggest starting by what you're cleaning/topic so it's easily searched.
Example:

Rust removal
I tried a product today that has been mentioned before, evaporust. This stuff works well. I had some rusty chrome hinges on a toolbox and they look new after soaking a day. The 2nd set may not fare as well as the chrome is actually flaking. We will see.
If you guys buy some I'd suggest the gallon instead of the quart I bought. It's cheap by the galllon and better to completely submerge the part.

Greasy parts.
This one works very well for me but it's very messy. Before getting out any cleaners if you have a really really nasty parts like maybe a control arm that has years of crud and junk on it. Scrape off as much as you can with a plastic scraper then put on some heavy rubber gloves and use a few tablespoons of oil. Any kind will work, motor oil, vegetable oil etc. Whatever is least expensive. work the crud with your fingers until it's completely emulsified then wash it all off with dawn soap etc. I've found a wheelbarrow works pretty well as a temporary outdoor sink for washing the emulsified goop off. This works pretty well for your hands too if they have a layer of crap on them after working on something extra dirty. A little bit of oil on your hands and rub it until everything is emulsified. Keeps your hands from having that "grey" look afterwards and doesn't pull the oil from your hands like a solvent will. Be careful of sharp edges on parts if you're working with your fingers. Brushes work well also but I've used my fingers a lot because you can feel when the grease emulsifies. It's a very cheap way to get something clean and 100% grease and oil free.
 

pieceofcloth

Supporting Member
387
276
Oct 6, 2019
Houston, Texas
If i may add..

Aluminum/steel : grease remover = purple power , 15 gallon plastic drum or ice chest. 5050 ratio with water, cleans aluminum(very cautious not to leave to long), cleans my steel blocks/parts after a day or 2. Wrinse with water hose afterwards, dry with air, apply wd40 to keep the water away


Electrical: from knobs, connectors, old guitar amps, dusty pots on audio mixers, whatever.. DEOXIT D5 - this stuff is the truth, period
just apply, connect and reconnect connector or twist knobs to get it inbetween. It works instantly

15gal drum can be free to 40 dollars. Offer up has a lot. Deoxit is like 16$, purple power like 5-15$
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BLACK'98DSM

Proven Member
3,698
1,332
Feb 9, 2019
Alabama
For cleaning the interior... I first used this stuff on the 05 Impreza I had. It had a WRX interior swapped in it, but it had been smoked in and there were also some interesting stains on the seats. Just spray it on and let it sit for a minute, then chase it with the steam cleaner. Works wonders on carpets, floor mats, cloth and nylon seats. I even used it on a headliner, but in a spray on & wipe off manner as a steam cleaner may cause the headliner to sag. It works even better if you buy a soft detailing brush to rub it in a bit. Next Spring I'm disassembling the interior on both of my sporty rides and using this stuff. Great way to get them ready for show season again. You can find it easily at local auto parts stores, or you can save some pennies by ordering it online. Since I discovered this product, it's Tuff Stuff or nothing. The dollar store products just don't cut it like they did back in the day.

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waltah

Proven Member
369
154
Mar 2, 2011
fairfield, Virginia
The old standard for heavy grease and road crud is kerosene. You can get it in gallon cans in many big-box stores as a home heating (etc.) fuel. Soak ... toothbrush or otherwise scrub.

For very small jobs, plain WD-40 is essentially the same thing in a spray can and works equally well.

Used motor oil also works as a soak but requires much longer -- days rather than an hour or two on a warm day. After a used oil soak has settled a while you can bottle it and recycle as usual.

The 'professional grade engine degreaser' sprays are a waste of money now. They used to contain a solvent but since solvents have been determined to be evil they seem to be just diluted detergent ... spray 'em on, watch the foam ("Gee, wonderful foam!"), wash off, your grease and road crud is still there, though perhaps slightly cleaner on top.

Next step -- Wal-Mart's cheapest pressure washer. This will be under $100 and it will get you down to rusty metal with an oil film after a kerosene soak/toothbrushing.

Higher power pressure washers will do a better job faster and if you hit skin with them, they may remove it. Plus all pressure washers die in three or four years if not sooner.

For a painting-grade surface, next step is Wal-Mart's cheapest dishwashing detergent applied full-strength. (Notice the theme here?) Again let it soak for a while. Brush, finish with pressure washer.

Loose rust should be wirebrushed. Pressure wash again, dry thoroughly, paint with Rustoleum rust preventive paint -- watch out for their other paints which will not last near as well on exposed chassis parts, etc.
 
Last edited:

pauleyman

DSM Wiseman
8,297
2,843
Nov 19, 2011
oklahoma city, Oklahoma
Upping my own thread....
I'm cleaning some trans cases and they are especially nasty. I want something faster short of taking it somewhere. I haven't hit it with the pressure washer yet because I know the ridiculous mess that is going to make all over everything in the near vicinity including me and the washer.

Waltah I'd like to hear your comments on pressure washers dying. I have a 3000psi unit but I've only had it a year and I haven't used it very much.
 

BLACK'98DSM

Proven Member
3,698
1,332
Feb 9, 2019
Alabama
The reason most pressure washers die that quick is because of how cheaply they're made. The casting of the pump and block are garbage as well as poor machining of the components. And some of the Chinese pump assemblies have plastic internals.

That's not true of all pressure washers though. If you can get your hands on an older industrial Honda pressure washer, it will run forever. They are fully made by Honda (besides wand and such) with a GX engine. I had one a while back and regret selling it. At 8 years of age the only things I had replaced were rubber components (including gaskets) and 1 new pump assembly.

I was a small engine repair guy for a couple years before my other career took off. I saw all kinds of ridiculous shit that was broken when it shouldn't be; especially on pressure washers for some reason.
 

1990TSIAWDTALON

Moderator
9,673
5,508
Nov 14, 2013
Independence, Kansas
Oven cleaner works GREAT on baked on stuff including aluminum. My 1.9L Saturn block is all aluminum and had "varnish" all over the inside. I used the whole can on just the inside and outside of the block, let it sit for about 15 mins and then THROUGHLY WASH with water. All of the brown varnish just disappeared. You don't want any left in or on it, so wash then dry with compressed air. Don't leave it on aluminum more than that as it will "eat" on it as it is corrosive.
 

XC92

Proven Member
1,463
314
Jul 22, 2020
Queens, New_York
I'll throw in my 2 cents. After nearly 2 years of exhausting restoration work on my 30 year old Talon, I'd say that there's no one solution that works for all situations.

For ordinary grease, grime and such, I like Super Clean, undiluted or at most 1:1, which I've found to be better than either Simple Green or Purple Power.

For really tough grease, like on the engine front when doing a TB/WP job, I like engine cleaner, the more nasty and aggressive the better.

In both cases you need to apply them, wait a bit but well before they start to dry, then scrub the surfaces you applied them to aggressively, generally with a nylon bristle brush but occasionally with a wire brush. Then you rinse it all off.

Of course there's also brake cleaner, but I try not to use it as it stinks and makes me lightheaded, and is pretty bad for the environment and living things.

I also use some sort of alcohol as prep before priming and painting.

For rust removal, it really depends on the type of rust and where it is. I prefer mechanical methods, generally, because they're usually faster and more thorough, and probably safer if you use PPE and common sense. These days this means a die grinder with various wheels such as wire or the various 3M-type abrasive rolocs like strip, surface conditioning, sanding, flap, etc., along with a rotary tool with various grinding bits for areas that the grinder can't easily or at all get to.

I occasionally do use chemical methods, but this has not been very effective for me. In the past I've tried various phosphoric acid-based liquids and gels, but they take forever to work and generally convert rust to a black inert form well before they actually dissolve it, and I don't really like conversion solutions as they just convert the top layer and leave the rust below as is, to continue to work its nastiness. I like to get rid of as much rust as I can and get to clean metal, when possible.

Evaporust does work pretty well, but mainly only on surface rust or the rust that remains after you've gotten rid of most of it mechanically, and then only on smaller parts that can fit into a small container than will be covered entirely by the Evaporust. I do like that it can be reused.

I recent tried muriatic acid, in my case the diluted kind you can get at HD that's around 15-20% strength. But I don't like the fumes so you must use it outdoors, preferably when there's a breeze, and you have to neutralize it with a base like baking soda and water or else it ends up rusting the part you used it to derust. Also don't store it anywhere near iron-based metals or it'll rust everything over time.

The hardest kind of rust I've found to remove is the kind that's mainly found in rust pits that's combined with road and brake dust, oil, water and various other nasty substances and turned into an encapsulated blackish hardened rust cake that only seems to respond to mechanical methods, especially a rotary tool with a grinding bit or burr, used carefully so as to not remove too much metal. I call these rust bombs because when you break them up they explode with rusty powder. After you remove them, you're left with lots of shallow pits that make the part look like an acne-scarred face. But so long as they're not too deep or big, they're probably just cosmetic and pose no structural risk.

People also use other methods like electrolysis and blasting, but I've never tried them so I can't comment on them. I don't have the equipment so they're not a viable option for me at this point.
 

pauleyman

DSM Wiseman
8,297
2,843
Nov 19, 2011
oklahoma city, Oklahoma
Experiment
Greasy Trans case vs 3000psu pressure washer.

I couldn't bring myself to use any strong chemicals more so because I didn't want residue on my cars etc. Maybe had I went to a car wash. But anyway.....
Did it work? Yes. It's nearly grease free in every nook and cranny. Could use a shot of brake clean but not much.
What I didn't know is how messy it would be.....
Well....just allow yourself a 15 ft radius of disaster zone. Naturally you are within said zone. So...you will be covered in crud, cleaner and Misc flying parts you forgot to remove.
But most importantly you will be damp....saturated.....well hell you jumped in the pool.
So those that wish to do this, you've been warned.
 

1990TSIAWDTALON

Moderator
9,673
5,508
Nov 14, 2013
Independence, Kansas
ROFL I thought I had mentioned to wear a raincoat backwards, rubber boots, gloves, a hat and a face shield because YOU WILL GET WET.
You describe the procedure very well!!! :thumb:
It happens to me every time I take a block to the carwash (I have a pressure washer now too) to clean all the crud out of them and what you described is spot on!
 

dwb

Proven Member
305
152
Sep 9, 2021
Broomfield, Colorado
The reason most pressure washers die that quick is because of how cheaply they're made. The casting of the pump and block are garbage as well as poor machining of the components. And some of the Chinese pump assemblies have plastic internals.

That's not true of all pressure washers though. If you can get your hands on an older industrial Honda pressure washer, it will run forever. They are fully made by Honda (besides wand and such) with a GX engine. I had one a while back and regret selling it. At 8 years of age the only things I had replaced were rubber components (including gaskets) and 1 new pump assembly.

I was a small engine repair guy for a couple years before my other career took off. I saw all kinds of ridiculous shit that was broken when it shouldn't be; especially on pressure washers for some reason.
This is good info to know and I am intrigued to learn what, if anything, can be done to help extend the life of a consumer-grade pressure washer. Is there some care or maintenance that can be performed? Should I just buy a pump or rebuild kit and keep it on the shelf?

Before I tore down my TSi, I bought a new 3100PSI Dewalt with a Honda engine. Worked excellent to clean up my block, head, trans, transfer case, engine bay, etc. I also used some of the ZEP all in 1 pressure washer concentrate in a spray bottle either full strength or slightly diluted, let it soak and then blast it with the pressure washer. That ZEP was actually pretty impressive at removing 30 years of oily caked on grime, but so was the pressure washer. I do regret not wearing a rain coat/face shield when I hit the bell housing.:coy:

What are some good options for cleaning the undercarriage without a lift?
 
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