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Detailing / Chemicals

Removing cement from a vehicle's exterior

January 17, 2014
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The chemical solution
Even with these safer chemicals, there are still some risks, and detailers should:

  • Read the product MSDS sheet;
  • Wear the appropriate personal protective equipment; and
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Read also: The five factors of clean, Chemistry part 1

The trick is to let the chemical do the work it has been designed to do. It must be given time to work and soften the concrete to a state where it can safely be removed from the paint without scratching or causing further damage.

When a customer brings a vehicle in, explain to them that the process can take several hours and price the job accordingly.

Concrete splatter doesn’t just land on the paint, but also on the plastic trim and glass components of the vehicle. The same process must be followed on these components; the concrete must be softened to a state where it can safely be washed from the vehicle.

In the past many people used muriatic acid to do this.

The problem with using this acid is twofold: not only is it potentially harmful to the operator, but also to the new softer and more easily damaged clear coats on modern vehicles.

The acid may save you time, but the potential damage caused to the paint finish is irreversible.

Safety steps
Be sure to adhere to the following steps when removing concrete splatter:

Read also: The five factors of clean, Chemistry part 2

Step 1: Clean the car thoroughly before inspecting the paint film.

Step 2: Diagnose and identify contaminates, (concrete in this case).

Step 3: Use a chemical process to return the concrete to a liquid.

Step 4: Give the chemical time to work.

Step 5: Wash the splatter from the vehicle.

Step 6: Once the contaminant is removed, inspect the paint surface once more for cosmetic damage and repair as necessary, (polishing, waxing, etc.).

Following these steps will allow you to safely remove the concrete without damaging the paint surface.


Jim Hammill is the co-founder of the Professional Detailer Technicians Associa-tion (PDTA). He can be reached at