Best Engine Degreaser for Cars, SUVs, and Trucks
Wash away dirt, grime, and oil with these best engine degreasers
Published September 17, 2018
Engine degreasers rid your motor of grease and grime. Most engines should be cleaned every three months to prevent buildup. When you have a cleaner engine, it’s easier to spot possible trouble like oil leaks. There are many DIY options out there, but it’s ideal to use the best engine degreaser to get the job done right. Much like our list of best engine cleaners, the degreaser is strong enough to give a complete clean while still protecting your expensive parts.
We’ve put together our top ten options as the best engine degreasers so you’ll be able to make the best choice for your needs.
What’s in a Degreaser?
Many people tackle engine grease by attempting to scrub it off. This is a fruitless effort that simply won’t work. You must have the solvent-based design of an engine degreaser to get the job done properly.
The degreaser dissolves the chemical substances that won’t break down from the water. That’s what makes it a great option to use on engines, tools, machines, and floors.
The most common products used in degreasers are kerosene or other hydrocarbon solvents, and xylene.
How to Degrease a Car Engine
Once you’ve purchased the best engine degreaser, you need to know the steps to clean your motor.
1 – Prepare the engine. Remove any debris with compressed air. Then, cover your delicate areas that shouldn’t come into contact with water.
2 – Loosen up the grease and oil particles. You do this by allowing the engine to get slightly warm. The combination of a warm engine and high-quality degreaser is a great tool.
3 – Start applying the degreaser from the bottom up. This prevents chemicals from dripping on you while cleaning.
4 – Allow the degreaser to soak. Read the instructions on the product you’re using, but generally, it’s at least a couple of minutes.
5 – Spray down the engine to clean off the degreaser. Be careful not to hit any sensitive areas.
6 – Wipe down the motor with your dry cloth. If you allow an aluminum engine to air dry, you’ll end up with white spots on its surface.
Engine Degreasing Tips
While the instructions for each product might be different, some general degreasing tips will help you out.
- Shield all the parts that shouldn’t be touched by water before beginning.
- Disconnect your battery.
- You want the degreaser to soak in but not dry onto the motor.
- Don’t degrease your engine in sunlight.
- Keep microfiber cloths handy.
- Dispose of all chemicals responsibly.
Choosing the Best Engine Degreaser – Complete Buying Guide
If you want to get rid of all the grease and grime, you’ll need to pick the best engine degreaser. Consider these factors to find the motor degreaser that’s right for you.
You’ll find two main options when looking at degreasers. They are the aerosol can variety and foam degreaser. You can use either one that suits you better, but most spray cans help you to hit the hard to reach areas better.
Size of Product
You’ll also find a wide variety of sizes on the market. Depending on how often you’ll use the degreaser, you may not want a large can. Professionals or mechanics have a greater need for the product and therefore might want to invest in something larger.
Read the label to determine what other surfaces the product is good for. If it’s safe for painted surfaces, plastics, and other materials, you won’t need to exercise so much caution while using. In addition, if you can use the spray for other projects in your garage and home, you’re also getting a better value.
Petroleum-based degreasers have a unique scent that’s not attractive. If this might bother you, opt for something without a smell instead.
Most prices are affected by things such as the size, brand, and quality. Frankly, they are all fairly affordable, but there are some that are clearly cheaper. If you must operate on a budget, it’s still possible to get something effective at a lower price.
Your engine isn’t cheap. It’s important to ensure that the product you’re using is specifically made for use on a motor; otherwise, you might be replacing some parts.
Most concentrated solvents evaporate easily once exposed to the air. That means you won’t have much time to clean. Instead, you might want a vapor-proof degreaser.
Types of Engine Degreaser
There are two main types of engine degreasers on the market. Both have their own set of pros and cons, so you’re the only one who can decide what works best for your engine needs.
The petroleum-based option is cheaper than a water-based formula. It’s also a stronger cleaner, but they’re more abrasive. You have to be cautious when using these, especially if they end up on plastics, painted surfaces, aluminum, and chrome.
A water-based product is milder and gentler. They are effective at cleaning, but they require a high-tech formulation to cut through oil and grease. You might be able to use them on a wide range of materials, so you won’t need to worry as much about them touching other parts of your car. Many of them are also environmentally-friendly, but they come at a higher price.
Top 10 Products Reviewed
Here are our top ten favorite engine degreasers, in no particular order.
10. Meguiar’s D10801 Super Degreaser
If you prefer a degreaser that doesn’t stink, this one might be for you. While we aren’t always looking for a sweet, herbal aroma from our motor, the refreshing scent of Meguiar’s Super Degreaser works well. Aside from that, it doesn’t leave that nasty white residue that some other products produce.
Meguiar’s simply leaves behind a clear residue which is easy to wipe off when you’re ready. On top of that, it comes from a reputable brand that understands the need to have a clean vehicle. In just a short time, it cuts through all accumulated grease on the motor.
This method is also cleaner than many others because it doesn’t require you to hose anything off. All you do is wipe it and you’re done, which further protects your engine from water.
9. Schaeffer Manufacturing Co. 0190-011S Penetro 90
You might not have heard of Penetro 90, but it’s worthwhile to look into. Sure, it’s not your typical degreaser. That’s because it acts more like rust cleaner – but it is multi-purpose. Use it as a lubricant on rusty components or some nuts and bolts as well.
The cleaner penetrates deep into metal to form a layer of protection against rust and abrasive particles. This oil-based cleanser lasts for a long time and continues to protect far after you’ve applied it.
Even when used in high-moisture conditions, it resists coming off, so you remain protected from further oil and grime. If your motor is heavily corroded, you’ll want to scrape it with a wire brush prior to use. Then, allow some time for the formula to penetrate before wiping off the engine.
This patented formula comes free of any chlorofluorocarbon or chlorinated solvents that pose a threat. Because of the safety aspects, it’s smart to use this on any type of metal to remove dirt and grime as well as protect for future use.
8. Simple Green 19128 Crystal Industrial Cleaner/Degreaser
The reason that people love Simple Green so much is because it’s the most non-toxic and biodegradable solution out there. While cleaning your engine with this, you won’t feel like you’re suffocating like with other chemical options.
In addition, this formula is non-flammable and doesn’t come with any type of fragrance. That’s what makes it ideal for anyone with allergies. The other nice aspect is that this product is multi-purpose. It could easily replace many other cleaners you currently use, which makes it a great value.
With the gentler formula, you can’t expect it to clean quite as the heavy solvents do, but it’s non-corrosive and works fine on lighter grime and grease. Because there is no added color, it rinses off perfectly from any material.
7. Chemical Guys CLD_201_16 Signature Series Orange Degreaser
The Chemical Guys Degreaser is one of the top contenders in the automotive care market and is a name trusted by professionals across the world. You can’t beat using citrus to degrease, and Chemical Guys capitalizes on the effects. It’s ideal for use on the wheels, rims, the undercarriage, and engine.
The emulsifying effect is tough on ground-in grime. You can mix it up in a bucket and use it on the shop floor or dilute it as a spray for cleaning automotive parts. It’s potent and versatile making it a great all-around cleaner.
It’s important that you carefully dilute the product as instructed. It comes heavily concentrated and you don’t want to use it straight from the bottle because it could damage materials. For general purpose cleaning, you’ll want to mix 20 parts of water to 1 part degreaser. That means you’ll get a lot of use out of this bottle.
In addition, they sell their formula in numerous sizes, so you can choose the one that works best for your needs.
6. SuperClean Multi-Surface All Purpose Cleaner Degreaser
Of all the degreaser reviews up to this point, the SuperClean Multi-purpose Degreaser offers the most uses. This biodegradable formula is safe for the environment while remaining tough on grime. If you need to use it undiluted for things such as diesel stains, make sure you wear a mask because the fumes are strong.
With that said, it is effective against grime, wax, tar, dirt, and oil. It’s also phosphate-free, yet one of the strongest water-based products available.
You can dilute the bottle down to 16:1 if necessary, so this container would turn into a lot of cleaners. At this dilution, you could clean stainless steel, chrome, laundry stains, microwaves, sinks, counters, and fiberglass. At an 8:1 ratio, you would have success with vinyl seats, dashboards, truck bed liners, appliances, pots, pans, patio umbrellas, vinyl siding, and golf clubs. With the 3:1 dilution ratio, you’ll want to clean carpets, floor mats, fireplaces, workbenches, plastic furniture, driveways, algae stains, and trailers. Finally, at full strength, you’ll have success cleaning auto parts, engines, tires, garbage disposals, ovens, shop floors, grills, lawn equipment, and diesel stains.
What other product can clean your undercarriage and fishing rods at the same time?
5. CRC Heavy Duty Citrus Liquid Degreaser
The CRC Heavy Duty Degreaser is another product that harnesses the power of citrus to get the job done. It’s a great option for anyone that doesn’t have a hose around to rinse the engine. Because of the evaporation, it’s also handy to have with you on the road, in case you need to quickly clean something off the engine.
What’s handy about the spray bottle is the 360-degree valve that revolves for times when space is an issue. Spray it from any angle then just wait for it to evaporate; it really doesn’t get much easier than that!
It’s a great balance between a formula that’s safe for the environment and offers good cleaning ability. Many shops that are concerned over OSHA inspections use this instead of the ozone-depleting options on the shelves.
This low VOC, heavy-duty, citrus-based formula effectively removes adhesives, contaminants, tar, lubricants, and oil without water. It’s non-abrasive and non-staining plus it leaves behind a clean, citrusy smell. It also comes in a handy 15-ounce spray can that lasts for a good amount of time. For the price, you can’t really beat it.
4. Chemical Guys CLD_104_16 Grime Reaper Extremely Strong Degreaser
You knew we couldn’t just put one Chemical Guys option on the list, especially with the GrimeReaper formula on the market. First of all, the name alone makes you want to use it. We can’t think of anything with a tougher name.
It’s an extremely concentrated degreasing product that cuts through just about anything with ease. Go ahead and dilute it down a lot and you’ll still have exceptional cleaning power. They sell it in two sizes and the gallon would probably last a lifetime once diluted.
It’s formulated to fight back against grime, oil, and dirt without leaving any residue behind. That means you get a deep clean with a shiny engine afterward.
There are also plenty of other automotive applications to consider using it with. Customers have found success with wheel wells and tires as well. Some people choose to keep one bottle specifically for their engine cleaning and dilute another for other purposes.
Overall, most jobs require a dilution rate between 6:1 and 9:1 parts water. At the lower dilution rates, even baked-on grease is no match for this formula. It’s an ideal addition to any construction site or places with heavy machinery as well.
If you want to get the job done fast – this is a winner.
3. Purple Power 4319PS Industrial Strength Cleaner and Degreaser
While the name Purple Power Degreaser doesn’t necessarily invoke images of tough cleaning, it really does work. This isn’t dedicated to just automobile work but is a multi-purpose product. The phosphate-free, biodegradable, non-abrasive formula requires you to spray it on and do its thing.
This formula isn’t as safe as some of the others we’ve reviewed. For example, the directions state not to use it on aluminum or plastics. So, you’ll want to spray it carefully. If you use it as directed, there are many places to apply it around the home, on the automobile, in the shop, or on the farm.
You’ll want to spray a little bit first on a test material. This helps determine colorfastness and surface acceptance. This is especially true if you decide to use it on painted surfaces and fabrics. You’ll also want to wear gloves and protect your skin while using it.
Just cover the surface to be cleaned and allow it some time to work. Don’t let it dry completely and then rinse it off with some water for a deeply cleaned shine.
This Purple Power Degreaser comes in a large 40-ounce bottle that should last you for a long time.
2. Spray Nine 22732 Grez-Off Heavy Duty Degreaser
This large bottle of Spray Nine Heavy-Duty Degreaser is powerful and best-used in tough applications to remove grime, grease, and dirt. It’s especially useful when the grime and grease have built up over time.
Not only does this powerful solution get the job done, but it’s fast-acting. Even with the heavy-duty formula, it’s still safe to use without wearing a mask. That’s because it produces no fumes or odors while permeating grease. It complies with VOC, is non-flammable and biodegradable as well.
You don’t need to dilute it before use; it’s ready to go right from the bottle. Use it on your engines, machinery, tools, workbenches, garage walls, shop floors, condenser coils, exhaust hoods, stainless steel, and chrome.
This effective and quick solution restores appearance and function in just a few minutes. You could even apply it to your grills, ovens, RVs, vents, farm equipment, lawn equipment, concrete, vinyl, plastic, rubber, metal, and asphalt for a true multi-purpose solution.
1. Trewax Natural Orange Heavy Duty Cleaner/Degreaser
Many people want a DIY formula, but that isn’t the best idea. Instead, you could opt to use Trewax Natural Orange Degreaser, which is about as close to Mother Nature as you’ll get. This all-natural product works with citrus solvents. Don’t assume it’s less effective just because it’s safer; it has earned the respect of being a heavy-duty cleaner and degreaser.
This degreaser permeates through grease, dirt, grime, grass, coffee, oil, ink, and blood to clean many surfaces. It’s biodegradable, non-toxic, and contains no phosphates. You’ll look forward to the citrus smell after cleaning that lets you know the job is done.
The well-designed bottle even has some grooves which make holding it more comfortable. There’s a purpose behind that design because you’ll find it easier to get into hard to reach areas, especially on the engine. When you can reach all the nooks and crannies, you end up with a cleaner engine.
Customers have found success using this in their laundry, on floors, windows, countertops, and numerous other household applications as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do I need to cover engine parts before using an engine degreaser?
A: Absolutely! Cover up any parts that would be affected by cleaners. You’ll want to especially pay attention to any electrical parts like sensors because these are expensive to replace. Take the time to cover your air filter and alternator as well with a water-resistant material.
Q: What other surfaces can I use my engine degreaser on?
A: That depends on which product you pick. Read the manufacturer’s suggestion because they’ll tell you what surfaces it’s safe for. Many of the multi-purpose cleaners can be used for other automotive parts and in the household as well.
Q: Do I need to do anything other than spray my engine with a degreaser?
A: This question can’t be answered without knowing the extent of grime buildup on your engine. If you are just doing routine cleaning and there isn’t much dirt, you might not need to do anything but spray it. If the dirt is stubborn, you may require the use of a brush. Either way, your best chance for success is to let the degreaser sit for a short time, then wipe it off and give it a rinse with some water.
Q: Are there biodegradable engine degreasers?
A: Most of the time they are, but you’ll want to verify that the product you pick is. Most of the well-known brands are non-flammable, non-toxic, non-corrosive, and contain low VOC.
Q: When should I use an engine shine product?
A: They are meant for protecting and detailing the engine. Once the engine is clean, then you focus on the detailing aspects. Not only do the shine products leave it looking clean and bright, but they also prevent further buildup with a protective film.
Engine degreasing is something most automobile owners don’t look forward to doing, but it doesn’t need to be a hassle. With the best engine degreaser, the job is made simple and painless so you can get back to living life instead of cleaning. With our wide array of featured options, you should be able to find the cleaner that works best for your needs.