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Avoid Cleaning Your Aircraft With These Chemicals

Every aircraft owner knows to maintain a safe and sturdy aircraft, you have to clean it on a regular basis. But, if you are new to the airplane industry, you may be wondering what kind of cleaners you should use on your plane. Unfortunately, you can’t just grab any cleaner you have stored under the sink at home and start to scrub down your aircraft with it. Choosing the right chemicals and cleaners for your plane is imperative to preserve your plane. So, next time your plane is scheduled to have a routine cleaning, avoid using any of these harmful chemicals that could be hiding in your cleaners:


Some aircraft owners use rain repellant or cleaning products with acetone on their windshields, however this is not recommended. Although it does not have any negative short-term effects, acetone can cause long-term damages to windshields made of plexiglass. If you use cleaners with acetone on your windshield on a regular basis, you will probably have to replace your windshield a lot sooner than you expected. This is an unnecessary expense that can easily be avoided by simply choosing the right type of cleaner.
Instead of reaching for an acetone-based cleaner, stick with the basics: warm water and a soft cloth. Do not use paper towels or any kind of abrasive cloth that could easily scratch the surface of your windshield. You should also avoid wiping the surface down in a circular motion as this can leave residue and marks behind on your windshield. Instead, stick to an up and down motion.

Ammonia Window Cleaners

Another chemical you should avoid using on the windows and windshield is ammonia. This chemical is frequently added to household cleaners designed to clear smudges and leave a streak-free shine on windows and mirrors, so why doesn’t it work on aircrafts? Window cleaners with ammonia can cause tiny cracks on the surface of your aircraft’s windows or windshield. Although you may not notice these cracks after you have finished cleaning your plane, you will notice them when you take your plane on its next flight. These cracks can affect how the light shines and reflects on your plane, making it difficult to navigate the plane safely. Once the cracks begin to form on your windshield, it’s too late—you will have to invest in a replacement windshield, all because you chose the wrong type of cleaner!
As previously mentioned, when cleaning windshields and windows, always stick to the basics of warm water and a gentle, non-abrasive cloth.

Dish Soaps

Many aircraft owners put a few drops of dish soap into warm water to clean the windshield and windows, which is fine. But, you should never rely on dish soap to clean the underbelly of your aircraft. This area is bound to have grease, oil and dirt that accumulates on the surface every time you take off in your aircraft. Some aircraft owners are under the impression that dish soap can be used in this area of the plane because it is used to eliminate grease on dirty dishes, pots and pans. But, what is effective on household items is not always effective on planes, so you should never make this assumption without doing your research.
The grease on an aircraft is much thicker than the grease on pots and pans, and therefore these dish soaps are not equipped to remove it. In fact, using these soaps can leave behind a layer of soapy residue on your plane that you will have to scrub off, so it actually creates more work for you. Additionally, most of these dish soaps are now made with scented perfumes or anti-bacterial properties that are not designed for use on aircrafts.
Instead, find a cleaning agent designed to remove grease on aircrafts and apply it to the plane with a soft cloth. You will have to put a little effort into removing the thick layers of grease that may have built up, but at least you are using the proper cleaners to get the job done without harming your plane.

Methyl Ethyl Ketone

This chemical has been added to the list not because it can potentially damage your aircraft, but because it is harmful to your health. When inhaled for a short period of time, methyl ethyl ketone can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat. Eyes may turn red and begin to water, and you may feel minor irritation in your respiratory system. If your skin is exposed to this chemical, it may begin to dry out and crack after a few hours. But, after being exposed to this chemical for long periods of time, you may permanently harm your nervous system. The extent of the damage is not clear, since there are have not been many studies that look at the long-term effects of this chemical on the nervous system. But if it is accidentally ingested, it can severely damage your lungs and may even lead to death.
This chemical is usually used to clean bare metal surfaces and any areas of the plane where sealant needs to be removed. But, there are so many other options on the market that can do the same thing without putting your health in jeopardy, so there is really no point in relying on methyl ethyl ketone.

A Final Note

As a general rule of thumb, it’s important to find cleaners that are “aviation approved,” which means they have passed rigorous tests and are approved for use on certain models of aircrafts. If you’re unsure of which products to choose, look for reviews online to see what other aircraft owners are saying.
No cleaning is complete without polishing your plane, so don’t forget to add this to your cleaning to-do list. Our Brightwork Polishes are aviation approved, and have been passed the tests for use on the Boeing D6-17487, AirBus Aims09-00-002, AMS1650C, Douglas Aircraft CSD #1, and ASTM F 485. This approval means you won’t have to worry about our products damaging your most prized possession!

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