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Thread: Best method to wash an aircraft?

  1. #1
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    Best method to wash an aircraft?

    Guys;

    What is the best method to successfully wash my aircraft? I plan on washing my plane this weekend for the first time. I was told by a friend to stay away from automotive car washes because they contain petroleum distillates for the most part, which can damage plastic. Another told me to use dish soap, which I used to use on my vehicles, but that stuff leaves streaks like mad. Do I need to cover static ports, etc before washing?....Can I use a soft bristle brush to get to the wings etc? Any advice appreciated....

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    Moderator autoreply's Avatar
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    Re: Best method to wash an aircraft?

    Which aircraft and - especially - what kind of paint?

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    Registered User Tom Nalevanko's Avatar
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    Re: Best method to wash an aircraft?

    I am not sure about the best but the most fun method is to fly through virga.

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    Registered User Mac790's Avatar
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    Re: Best method to wash an aircraft?

    Quote Originally Posted by autoreply View Post
    Which aircraft and - especially - what kind of paint?
    He have been talking about Cessnas for about 2-3 weeks. So I think, he finally bought one, don't remember which one, one was from sixties other from seventies or something like that.

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    Registered User LArzfromarz's Avatar
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    Re: Best method to wash an aircraft?

    Tape up the static port(s) and pitot. I used a simple enzymatic soap (laundry soap) or Dawn and warm (ish) water and a soft bristle brush (marine supply store or HD).
    Get a good hand held squeegee to remove the bulk of the water then towel dry. Don't use paper towels on the windows they scratch. Invest in some cloth diapers for the plexi. Also RainX is not approved ( at least it wasn't in my day)for the plexi and could cause clouding. Its tempting to use though.
    I also used to keep mineral spirits in a pump sprayer for the belly oil and for engine washes and any tough oily messes.
    I did this on a twin Cessna for years with great results.
    Also wash in the shade or hangar to prevent spotting.
    Remove the tape on the ports and make sure you actually preflight the airplane each flight- "If it flew yesterday it'll fly today" is NOT a good rule.
    YMMV
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    Re: Best method to wash an aircraft?

    Yeah, I bought a 71 cessna 150L from a guy at our local airport. He also happens to work at the same company I do so it was convenient. The thread about the one from the 60's or 70's was from another guy who was buying a 172. At this point I'm thinking of just going the dishsoap route and will live with the streaks, or towel dry as best I can . I guess some streaks aren't the worse thing on earth. I'm going to pick up a bristle brush this weekend. Just something small with soft bristles and about a 4 foot handle. I have heard about using mineral spirits for dissolving the oil and exhaust but am not sure I want to have that smell lingering on the plane. I was thinking also of buying a bottle of simple green or purple power to degrease the underside. I used to use simple green on my old military gun stocks to clean the cosmolene off them whenever I'd pick up a new weapon. Stuff works great and is mild with no petroleum based ingredients that I remember.

    OH, also, I bought a can of this stuff called "Plexus" for the windscreen and windows. Everybody I talked to at the airport said they swear by it. Its a product specifically designed to clean plastic.

    This plane was last painted with "Imron" paint. I know nothing of that stuff so not sure if that's a good thing or bad thing.

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    Registered User Hot Wings's Avatar
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    Re: Best method to wash an aircraft?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickathome View Post
    I guess some streaks aren't the worse thing on earth. I'm going to pick up a bristle brush this weekend. Just something small with soft bristles and about a 4 foot handle. I have heard about using mineral spirits for dissolving the oil and exhaust but am not sure I want to have that smell lingering on the plane. I was thinking also of buying a bottle of simple green
    .

    Do NOT use Simple Green on an aluminum airplane.

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    Also, not all dish detergent is created equal. Back when I was still painting for a living I used dish detergent for a lube during wet sanding. When they started putting out the 'anti microbial' detergent the formula got changed and made a real mess. Find some of the cheap "bug happy" detergent and the streaking should be less.
    Conventional wisdom and practices yield conventional results. If that is good enough for you:
    Problem solved.

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    Re: Best method to wash an aircraft?

    I wonder if something like Murphy's oil soa pwould work? That stuff is basically a vegetable based material. I know it works well on cleaning floors, etc and doesn't foam up like dish soap does.

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    Registered User snaildrake's Avatar
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    Re: Best method to wash an aircraft?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickathome View Post
    I have heard about using mineral spirits for dissolving the oil and exhaust but am not sure I want to have that smell lingering on the plane.
    Mineral spirits is one of the least smelly of the petrochemical thinners. If you're using it outside I seriously doubt you will ever notice the smell inside your plane. -Dan

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    Re: Best method to wash an aircraft?

    Personally, I'd be using Meguiar's auto products, especially on the high end of their line. Anything that's good enough for competition concours cars - and old ones at that - is going to be mild enough for an airplane. I use 'em on my 914. Best stuff I've found in almost every category.
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    Re: Best method to wash an aircraft?

    A few years back my A&P/IA recommended using Scrubbing Bubbles (the tall greenish can of bathroom cleaner). I have been using it since and it doesn't require water (unless you want to pre-wash a really dirty plane). It is great for getting off that belly grease and doesn't harm aluminum.
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    Re: Best method to wash an aircraft?

    Leave the aircraft outside overnight. The next morning (early, before 9 or so), you can simply wipe off all the dirt, because it's been soaked by the condensed water vapor on your aircraft.

    Yes, I'm lazy. Waxing helps a lot in keeping the aircraft relatively clean.

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    Registered User JamesAero's Avatar
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    Re: Best method to wash an aircraft?

    As stated earlier do NOT use the regular Simple Green on an aluminum airplane. It is corrosive to aluminum. There is a Simple Green Aircraft and Precision Cleaner that is safe to use and works rather well. Any of the products listed for cutting through exhaust streaks in aviation publications will do a decent job. Aero-Brite is what I've been using lately on a King Air and it works 10X better than Carbon-X. I just use a decent car wash soap for quick washes.

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