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What is an all purpose cleaner (APC)

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An all purpose cleaner (often abbreviated into: APC) is a multipurpose, liquid, spray-on cleaner that can be used on several types of dirt. It is one of the most common products used by a detailer due to its versatility.

What is an all purpose cleaner

The ingredients that make an all purpose cleaner can be very different, but in general they are basically medium to light degreasers. They are not as strong or effective as an engine bay cleaner or traffic film remover, but they are stronger then shampoo, partly because they work in a different way. Most regular cleaning products (such as shampoo) are designed to remove common types of dirt in an effective way without affecting the protective layer. An APC is designed to remove the most common types of dirt as best it can, even if it has an affect on the protective layer. In many cases they also design an APC to be low foaming, but not all.
In terms of strength, you could class an APC between a shampoo and an engine bay cleaner. However, since these products are different in their chemical make-up, this is just a very loose comparison.

APC and paintwork

APC should be safe with any type of surface. Even though it can have an affect on the protective layer, it should not have any affect on the surface itself. So an APC should be perfectly safe on paint, gelcoat, glass, rubber, plastic or metals.

APC and fabric

APC can be used safely on fabric. In fact, many APC’s are very effective at cleaning seats, carpets and other types of fabric.It can easily be used in combination with an extractor (wet-vacuum cleaner). The only thing you might want to look out for is if it is low foaming or not. If it is not low foaming, the solution you suck up with the extractor will start to foam inside the machine. Eventually this foam will mimic the effect of a full container, causing most machine to either stop sucking or to leak water/foam.

APC and it’s many uses

Cleaning a wheel with an All Purpose Cleaner
Cleaning a wheel with an All Purpose Cleaner

Among many other possibilities, APC can safely be used for these tasks:

  • Cleaning door shuts and hinges
  • Cleaning tires and wheelarches
  • Cleaning stubborn dirt from paintwork
  • Cleaning fabric
  • Giving the engine bay a light clean
  • Wiping down light dirt from varies surfaces
  • Cleaning of grime and oils from a window prior to using a glass cleaner
  • Clean polish pads after use
  • Loosen up dirt by soaking it in APC
  • Pre-cleaning the roof of a convertible
  • Cleaning tools
  • Loosen up dirt in MF towel before washing
  • Cleaning of polish residue (not a substitute for IPA or another panel wipe!)
  • Cleaning a tailpipe
  • Cleaning small spaces and crevices you can’t get into

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