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The many uses of Verso All Purpose Cleaner -
15 min read Monday 21 March 2022

The many uses of Verso All Purpose Cleaner

This kit bag essential really can do it all!

There's no doubt that Verso All Purpose Cleaner is one of the most versatile products we've ever developed, the clue really is in the name. This highly-concentrated dilute-to-suit cleaner and degreaser has been designed to tackle many a task in and around your vehicle and can take on anything from light cleaning to eradicating the most hardcore soiling - and all on just about any surface you'll come across, inside and out. This special cleaning formula removes grime by breaking down, lifting and encapsulating contamination, safely suspending it in its own solution, so it can be safely rinsed or wiped away.

But, what are the most common jobs where this product excels? How exactly does it work? And what about all those dilution ratios? Well, they're all frequently asked questions that we can answer right here and right now. So, let's see why you should never be without a bottle of Verso in your detailing kit…

Why does Verso need to be diluted?

It's not just about saving you money, we already know that a single litre of this concentrated cleaner can make up to 10-litres of solution, and that's pretty damn cost-effective if we do say so ourselves. But dilution with water is also about getting the correct intensity of product for the soiling you're attempting to remove. Heavier soiling simply has more particles of grit, grime and fatty oils that need to be encapsulated by the cleaning and degreasing chemicals (or the different types of surfactants) in the solution, it stands to reason that the more particles you need to safely remove, the more of these surfactants you need floating around in your mix to make contact with them. Not enough means that the solution will attack the first layer of grime, but when the spent solution - or the surfactants already encapsulating this grime - is moved away, there's not enough surfactants to replace them to attack the rest of the grime. Too many in your mix and, well, you're not just wasting product, but you may have surfactants trying to work on sensitive surfaces where they're not needed, and you"re probably missing enough of another vital component - the water.

You see, it's not just about the concentration of surfactants, the water contained in your mixture is also an important part of the cleaning equation because it's this, on a molecular level, that draws the surfactants - and the contamination with them - away from the surfaces. Surfactants are half hydrophobic and half hydrophilic, meaning that they're both attracted to and repelled from water. We'll get to the science of that in a bit, but the point is that without the water there would be nothing to attract the spent surfactants, and this would hinder the ability of the product to physically pull dirt and oil particles off surfaces. It's also the reason why stronger dilutions just love to be rinsed away - because the surfactants holding onto the particulates are attracted to your rinse water.

Naturally, there's already some water molecules in the Verso concentrate, this is why it's known as an aqueous agent, or a detergent formula. But, adding water to your Pro Mixing Bottle, Pressure Sprayer or even Detailing Bucket when you dilute this powerful all purpose cleaner, actively helps it remove grime without leaving any streaky residue or being too harsh for the surface.

How do these surfactants remove contamination?

There are a few different types of surfactants you'll find here, and each is designed to attack different types of soiling. Basically speaking though, we have a special a blend of high-foaming anionic surfactants, which are ideal for lifting and encapsulating particulate soils, and low-foaming non-ionic surfactants, which are used for removing oil-based particles - what's known as a degreasing action. There's also a certain concentration of emulsifiers, which are used to break down large fatty molecules (which have trouble mixing with the solution) into smaller fatty molecules. Along with a small amount of solvent-based chemicals which to break down hardy organic-based stains. These extra ingredients simply make the soiling small enough to be effectively removed by the surfactants.

But, the question is - how do the surfactants work? And it's all down to the relationship they have with water molecules. Surfactants are like tiny tadpoles, with heads that are attracted to water, and tails that repel water but are attracted to foreign particles - the ones you're trying to remove. The polar nature of these surfactants is exactly what makes them lift, hold onto and surround the soiling you're trying to clean away.

On a microscopic scale, huge numbers of these tiny surfactants band together to form structures called micelles, these are like a ball with all the water-loving heads on the outside and the tails on the inside. Because the tails are attracted to grime, when the micelles come into contact, they open up and the tails attach themselves to the particles. But, because the heads are attracted to the water in the solution, or when you rinse, the dirt is pulled off of the surface and into the cleaning solution. Once the grime is free, the micelles reform, surrounding the particles and preventing them from going back to the surface. This is how they suspend the contamination in the solution, ready to be rinsed or wiped away.

When should I use Verso in my detail?

Well, the answer to that is just as simple, there's many, many areas where this versatile product the ideal cleaning product. So, here's a whole load of top tips on using Verso from our professional instructors at the Auto Finesse Detailing Academy…

Tyre Sidewalls

One of the most common mistakes in detailing is not cleansing tyre sidewalls sufficiently during the wheel cleaning stages, many simply forget, but it's worth remembering that this can have adverse consequences later when finishing with a tyre dressing.

A 1:2 of Verso agitated with a Detailing Brush or Rubber Scrubber will purge your sidewalls of any contaminants and reminisce of old dressings that may stop your new dressing from bonding properly, along with any grit and grime that will interfere with the final finish. No one likes a dressing over a crusty, gritty tyre, right? But it's a problem that's easily solved.

In The Pre-wash

This one may be surprising to some but, for periodic deep-cleaning of the most soiled vehicles, a dilution of Verso between 1:2 and 1:5 can be used as a heavy-duty, spray-on pre-cleaner - you can even run it through your snow foam lance for added penetration, and it will also work in mild dilutions on wheels. Do bear in mind though, that Verso is something of a hardcore cleaner and degreaser and, unlike our Citrus Power Bug and Grime Remover or Dynamite Traffic Film Remover, it's not designed to be wax or sealant friendly. But, while it may not be one for your quick maintenance washes, it can be mighty effective for the more full-on jobs and big details. So, if you're planning on polishing and adding protection later, or cleaning well-used work vehicles, off-roaders and battered barn finds, Verso can offer the perfect deep-cleaning pre-wash solution.

Door Jambs and Fuel Flaps

This is where the heavy duty-degreasers come into their own. Door jambs, especially around locks and hinges, have a lot of dirty, greasy recesses that many forget to clean on a regular basis. Because of the sticky nature of these contaminants, they tend to pick up extra dirt and grit over time, and this needs to be cleaned away safely, without the risk of scratching painted areas. That's not to say you can't relubricate these parts after cleaning of course, but fresh lube is far better than grease that has been carrying heavy grime for extended periods.

Around these areas too, many cars have plastic sill protectors that may require a little extra attention. The same can be said for in and around fuel flaps, where you'll find plenty of fuel and oil-based contamination. All this can be effectively cleaned with a 1:7-1:5 dilution agitated with a Detailing Brush.

Exterior Plastics

Much like with tyres, many don't realise that you'll get a far stronger bond, and will extend the life of your dressings, on matt exterior plastics by thoroughly deep-cleaning with Verso before application. This is simply because any grease and grime that's left on the surface will effectively create a barrier layer that will stop your dressing from making contact with the actual plastic. These are also surfaces that can't be mechanically polished or decontaminated, making intense chemical cleaning all the more important. What's more, some silicone and water-based dressings are designed soak into the top layer of your plastics to restore their colour and add protection, so, without allowing them to take hold, you're simply not getting the best from your dressing, and it won't last too long. A 1:10 dilution here is all you need here - simply spray on, agitate and wipe.

Rubber Weather Strips

Here's a top tip for you, a little neat Verso on a microfibre cloth can bring up your rubber window strips a treat. Essentially what you're doing here is using the cleaning agents and the cloth to strip the surface and take away a microscopic layer of rubber, leaving behind the fresh new rubber underneath. It's a bit like if you were polishing paintwork in that respect. This is especially useful for cleaning away polish residue, and the ingrained dirt that rubbers are notorious for picking up over time. On older vehicles it also helps revive the original black colour, stopping faded rubbers from letting down the rest of your detail.

Carpets, Matts and Fabrics

Interior carpets and floor mats arguably pick up some of the worst soiling of any part of the vehicle. Mud, heavy particulate soiling, grit and ingrained food stuffs are all common, and the difference with these surfaces of course, is that they're soft and made up of millions of fibres that are perfect for holding onto every bit of grime you drag into the vehicle on your shoes and clothing. That said, you don't need a hugely strong dilution of Verso here, just 1:7 will effectively penetrate the material, breaking away the grime deep down in the fibres without breaking or ripping up the fibres themselves. From there it holds the contamination in the solution, allowing it to be wiped away.

For carpets and matts, first remove the loose soiling with your vacuum cleaner, to ensure that the Verso gets to work where it's most needed. Next spray your diluted Verso over the entire area. You don't need to totally saturate the area, but get plenty on there when you're dealing with the harshest soiling. This is where we agitate the solution with an Upholstery Brush or Interior Detail Brush. The idea isn't so much to scrub away the grime, but to refresh the solution on the worst affected areas. This action simply moves away spent solution (that's already encapsulating grime) and refreshes it with new solution ready to break down the rest of the grime. After that you can either wipe away the soiling with a microfibre cloth, or suck it up with your vac.

Much the same process with a 1:10 dilution of Verso can be carried out for general cleaning on fabric seats, using a slightly stronger mixture for spot cleaning stains and the worst contaminants. 1:10 is also great for refreshing other interior fabrics like headlinings and seatbelts, only here it's important not to saturate the surface, instead spray your solution directly onto a microfibre cloth and wipe. Alternatively, on really mucky interiors you can add a little Verso to a bucket of water, dip in and wring out your cloth, and use your damp microfibre to thoroughly wipe over surfaces. This also includes plastics, doorcars and trim - yes, Verso really is that versatile.

Leather

Speaking of interiors, a mild dilution of Verso is also particularly useful for cleaning the dirtiest leather without damaging the surface. Leather seats and trim typically pick up and retain body oils and sweat, making them shiny - remember that shiny leather is usually dirty leather and will need a degreasing agent to remove the oil-based contamination. Generally speaking what you want is a clean, matte finish, but without using a degreaser that's too harsh, and may dry out the leather. Heavy grime and dye from clothing can also become ingrained in the surface of the hide needing a suitable surfactant to break down and safely lift away. Luckily these are all contaminants that a mild dilution of 1:10-1:7 will be able to cut through with ease, and without causing surface damage. Again, the process is extremely straightforward - simply spray over the whole area, agitate and wipe.

While we'd say that this isn't a solution for regular use and general upkeep on cleaner areas - here we'd recommend our extremely mild glycerine-based cleaner Hide Leather Cleanser - for big details on extremely contaminated vehicles, and periodic deep-cleaning though Verso offers a heavy-hitting and seriously effective solution.

Engine Bays

It may be an area that's forgotten during many a detail, but engine bays are also where a little Verso can go a long way. It goes without saying that grease, grime and oil staining tend to be rife under any bonnet, but this is exactly the sort of hardy contamination that Verso has been developed to break down, again the degreasing section is one of the most important characteristics here. A relatively strong solution of around 1:5 or 1:2 will tackle the heaviest grease and oils. This should be sprayed on and brushed into shuts, plastic covers, rubber seals, metal, painted areas and around hinges and bonnet latches, allowing the grime to be rinsed away effectively with your pressure washer.

Dirt Traps

Regular followers of our Youtube Channel, will have noticed that we just love to take cars apart on our big details, just to reveal all those little dirt traps that suffer from grime build-up over years of exposure to the elements. It's worth noting that, on most vehicles, there are plenty of smaller parts that will be quick and easy to remove, and that periodical cleaning, while not immediately obvious when it comes to the overall finish, is important for two reasons. First, if left for long enough, grime can bring with it the onset of corrosion in these areas, working its way into painted surfaces and eventually into the metal itself. Plenty of cars have suffered from hidden rot over the years for precisely this reason. The second consideration is far simpler, some particles could be accidentally blown out in the later stages of your detail, causing defects when trying to carry out processes like machine polishing or finishing. Just imagine what a piece of grit on your polishing pad can do spinning around on your paintwork. In other words, if you can get to these dirt traps first, it makes sense to clean them and reduce the risks.

Anyway, the most common traps can include parts like light clusters, trim, grilles and even headlights - and when it comes to cleaning away the dust and dry mud, Verso is always the first product we reach for. Here the dilution ratio will always depend on the level of contamination, but it makes sense to start with a mild 1:10 dilution, and step up to something a little stronger as and when it's needed.

Convertible Roofs

Verso is just as good on exterior fabrics and it is on those found on the inside of your vehicle. Convertible roofs are a prime example here because, again, the solution uses surfactants to break down deeply ingrained contaminants, safely releasing particles from the fibres, without damaging the fibres themselves. This is arguably the most important consideration on any fabric roof - leaving engrained dirt with sharp particles which are particularly adapt at abrading the fibres - or indeed damaging them when cleaning - can weaken the fabric causing anything from excess water impregnation to ripping and tearing… all the things you don't want on the bit that's keeping the rain out!

While Verso is classed as a heavy-duty degreasing product, periodical cleaning with a relatively weak dilution of 1:10 will be effective in safeguarding your fabric roof from the grime that will eventually attack the fibres. Again, this can be adapted to around 1:7 for heavier soiling, but always begin with a weaker dilution first - the key is not to use any more product than you actually need, then you won't leave a load of residue in the fabric when you rinse. Spray on, agitate with an Upholstery Brush, and rinse away the encapsulated soiling with your pressure washer, it's as simple as that.

Arch Liners

If you're serious about your big details, we've no doubt that at some point you'll be whipping your wheels off to get at those inner arches. It stands to reason that you'll find some of the heaviest contamination of all here, including mud, traffic films, oils, road salt and other heavy particulate soiling - all the grease and grime that can eventually lead to corrosion and structural damage.

A dilution of 1:5 - 1:2, along with an Arch Blaster Arch Brush will be just the thing for attacking this sort of heavy grime inside the arches, on the plastic liners and around chassis and suspension parts. Here you can apply liberally and scrub away with your brush to help lift the soiling, and refresh the cleaning agent, before blasting the whole lot away with your pressure washer. During routine maintenance of course, when you haven't got your wheels off, you can simply get in there with a lighter 1:7 dilution and a Barrel Brush before following your usual wheel cleaning process.

 


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