The best all-purpose cleaner (APC) for your car

The jack of all trades of the car cleaning world, find out why you should always have a bottle of APC around.

Spraying a liquid onto a microfibre cloth

by Ryan Gilmore |

Bottle after bottle, you'll quickly realise that car cleaning is more than just shampoo and T-Cut nowadays. From plastic trim restoring products to waterless car cleaners, there are a plethora of specialised detailing products that'll make your car look great but spend most of their life taking up shelf space in your garage - talk about a shelf life (sorry).

Wouldn't it be nice to have a single product that can give every surface in your car a quick spruce up without the need to grab the wash mitt, buckets and set aside an hour from your day? All-purpose cleaner sounds like the perfect solution, a near-universal cleaner that can be used for your car's interior and exterior.

We've selected our favourite APCs, looking at price, quality and ergonomics (basically, do you need to buy a spray bottle) so you can add a new garage essential to your cleaning arsenal.

The best APC

Bilt Hamber Surfex HD

The best APC
Bilt Hamber Surfex HD
Amazon

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Our top choice for APC is this one-litre spray bottle of degreaser from Bilt Hamber. Entirely water-based and biodegradable it's safe for the planet and can be used on the exterior and interior of your car. While you'll probably need to dilute it for light-duty cleaning it's still our top choice and one bottle should last ages. The fact it can be used as a degreaser too is a bonus.

Meguiar's G9624EU All Purpose Cleaner

The best premium APC
Meguiar's G9624EU All Purpose Cleaner
Amazon

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With no need to dilute this APC it's a fantastic option for cleaning your car. Slightly more expensive than the Bilt Hamber this spray is safe for use on pretty much all car surfaces, including the seats and carpets. It's designed to cut through grease and grime, but don't forget the drying towel to wipe it away.

Meguiar's D10101 Detailer All Purpose Cleaner

The best APC for quantity
Meguiar's D10101 Detailer All Purpose Cleaner
Amazon

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Like the APC above just a lot more of it, this 3.79-litre bottle of APC is a clever idea if you're worried you'll get through a lot of product (if you own several cars for example). It needs to be diluted and you'll need to provide a spray bottle but is excellent at cleaning.

CarPlan CDC101 Surface Cleaner

The best budget APC
CarPlan CDC101 Surface Cleaner
Amazon

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The good value option for cleaning every surface in your car, this spray from CarPlan will do a good job on pretty much any surface. It can be used to remove dirt and grease from windows and plastics but cannot be used on soft surfaces (like carpet). It also leaves a nice citrus scent once you're done.

What you need to know about APC

What is APC?

All-purpose cleaner pretty much sums up what it is. A generalised cleaner that's designed for cleaning both the inside and outside of your car. Great for dissolving grease and lifting marks, APCs are often alkaline-based as well as being bleach and ammonia-free. Larger containers will often need to be diluted and added to a spray bottle.

Do I still need other cleaning products?

Despite the name, APC won't isn't the only cleaning product you could ever need. Properly cleaning and detailing your car takes several different cleaning products (we've got a handy guide here), but for a quick spruce up APC is a really good choice.

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