What's the best cleaning solution?

When I get home from college in a month, I have two major manual-labor tasks that I need to get done. The first is to fix my car, and the second is to clean approximately 2,000 hubcaps (I collect and sell hubcaps, and I’m a little backlogged!). This question concerns the second item. I’m planning to rent some kind of a pressure washer to do this job, but I know from experience that brake dust is very tough to remove, and pressurized water alone probably won’t do the job. I’ve always scrubbed the hubcaps by hand with an SOS pad in the past, but 2,000 is too many to do one at a time, hence the need for a pressure washer. So, my questions are:

  • Does anyone have experience with pressure washers? Is the type that heats the water better than the regular type? Are decent pressure washers even available to the public at those rent-a-power-tool places?

  • What kinds of commercially available cleaners are the strongest? It would be a bonus if they were also not so toxic as to kill the lawn, because I will be doing this in my driveway.

Any advice on how best to go about this would be appreciated.

-Andrew L

The pressure washers that heat the water will be better than regular pressure washers in this case, because you are trying to cut through grease. Grease melts at high temperature, making it easy to cut.

You can rent power washers.

There’s no “strongest” commercial cleaner for anything… it just depends on what you are trying to clean. I’d suggest degreaser plus pressure washer. That would probably be enough.

I’ve found that ‘Gunk Engine Brite Heavy Duty Engine Degreaser’(http://www.gunk.ca/EB1C.htm) works very well for almost everything. I think it will ruin your lawn, though.

The best cleaning solution is water, but I guess that isn’t the really the question. :o

Ok I know this sounds crazy but… Coca Cola, flaten it add sult, heat it up on the stove or in the microwave and soak the Hubcaps in the soulution for about an hour then use a brush. Works wonders on paint on wooden floors, and for removeing greease spots on the driveway.

oops sorry wrong button didn’t edit the spelling…


flaten = Flatten (shake up or let the bubbles out of it)
Sult = Salt (table salt will work)
soulution= Solution
removeing greease = removing grease, (( those stupid E’s))

:::::::::::::Smacks typist:::::::::::::::::::: :o :o :o :o :o

Out of curiosity won’t you potentially get a big lungfull of asbestos and various other nasty brake dust contaminants doing this.

This might not help much with the 2000 hub cap problem, but it may be worth adding anyway. One of the very best cleaning solutions for almost anything, with a 1000 domestic uses, is almost never hyped or mentioned yet cheap and widely available. It’s de-natured acohol.

At least “de-natured” alcohol is one of its names here in the UK. It’s basically pure ethyl alcohol that has been treated so as to make it unfit for drinking. I agree that’s a terrible thing to do to alcohol, but that’s another story. Anyway, it tends to get given different names, but that’s all it is.

This stuff is a superb cleaner of almost anything. Its great for getting irritating sticky lables off things and then cleanng up the residue. It can work on almost any surface, and evaporates cleanly away afterwards. Its the best cleaner for audio stuff, clean contacts, electrical parts. Smart housewives and homemakers know it’s the best cleaner in the world for glass, mirrors and tiles. It’s not an abrasive, however, so for abrasive cleaning jobs you need to give it a hand with something like wire wool.

Sorry, not much help with the hubcaps, but worth knowing all the same.

“Out of curiosity won’t you potentially get a big lungfull of asbestos and various other nasty brake dust contaminants doing this.”

Asbestos dust doesn’t get into the air when it’s wet. At least, that’s my understanding, and I’ve been cleaning hubcaps in my basement sink with SOS pads since I was three years old, so I figure I would have keeled over by now if this was a problem :slight_smile:

Thanks for the suggestions. I know about Engine-Brite, but it has so many warnings about its toxicity that I’m afraid using multiple cans of it will turn my front lawn into a Superfund site. I once used Simple-Green to clean the engine compartment of my car and it worked pretty well, so I may try that.

-Andrew L

Why not just try degreasing dish soap at first and see if you can save a few bucks?