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L9 Mobile Detailing and Paint Correction 101- (65 MPH Bug Killer)

How to remove caked-on insect remains without damaging vehicles painted surfaces.

Spring and Summertime are gone from us and I'm sure you don't miss running into a swarm of bugs after you just completed the wash and wax job. But even the first day of spring can bring a wave of problematic bugs back to drivers’ bumpers and windshields. This practically guarantees people hoping to easily remove dead, dried insect remains from vehicles.

With that said, mobile detailers know that successfully eradicating layers of caked-on bug carcasses is one of the detailers' biggest challenges without damaging the paint, where in many cases they have been dried on the surface of the paint for a while and have already caused etching and staining to the paint.

Meeting the challenge with knowledge.

Dead bugs guts and blood are generally acidic in nature and should be removed from vehicles surfaces without delay, if not removed, stuck-on bugs can cause irreversible damage to painted surfaces. This will at times require extensive work to correct. Proper bug removal requires a combination of good chemical pretreat, mechanical soft agitation, and cleaning vehicle surfaces the right way.

Chemicals and products designed to specifically remove bugs provide this first essential step and should be combined with, manual soft-bristled brush to provide the initial first cleaning step. The common challenges to thorough bug removal are not to scratch or mar the paint during the removal process. As a mobile detailer heat and sun play a big role when doing any kind of contamination removal from painted surfaces.

“When left on the vehicle in warm temperatures, the warm surface will evaporate most of the liquid bug contents and further concentrate the acidic digestive proteins, increasing their destructive power. “Over time, the bug’s proteins will form stronger bonds with the underlying surfaces as well, making it even harder to remove.”

Application and Dwell Time

It's always better if possible to work out of direct sunlight and heat. These conditions will change how chemicals and products should be applicated and their dwell times may be shortened considerably witch, in turn, may cause you to use more products to get the job done.

When it comes to bug removal, high-pH chemicals work best for starting the cleaning process. Bugs, bird droppings, oils, etc., seem to be the biggest wash challenges, regardless of wash format.

The type of insects found in an area may affect the selection of your product. Chemical manufacturers make both alkaline and acidic products for bug removal. Insects will soften and release differently depending on the pH level of the product. Some insects dissolve better with high pH, while others will respond more effectively with a low-pH product.

Bug removers neutralize these localized spots of concentrated organic acids and can quickly penetrate and loosen the chemical bonds between the bug remains and the vehicle’s surface. Timely pretreatment of a vehicle’s surface with specially formulated bug removers will provide effective removal of this challenging organic soil. It is important that a wash’s chemical provider uses the latest innovations in ingredient technology to design effective yet mild bug removers. These products will deliver top performance and leave a clean vehicle that is ready for additional surface care.

Treating the problem

Start by pretreating the vehicle surface for bug removal, it is best to set the bug solution application near the beginning of the pre-wash cycle. This will give the product appropriate dwell time. Good coverage and chemical strength are both essential pretreatment considerations to create a bug-free surface.

Chemicals should be applied to a dry surface. Apply a chemical to the problem areas before the vehicle is wet. If the vehicle is already wet, there will be a dilution barrier that can cause ineffectiveness.

Read the instructions for dwell times and remember some of these chemicals don't work well in direct sun or heat. With the use of a soft detailing, brush agitate the chemical over the problem area, continuing to let the chemical dwell, but not letting it dry on the surface.

If you notice that you are racing against the drying of the surface, work in sections doesn't find yourself rushing to get the job done. This will only cause you to go over areas twice and not get the outcome you wanted.

Now with a microfiber safe wash mitt, cloth, or sponge hand wash the area to remove bug carcass's from your bumper, glass, or any affected area. The use of warm water will also help in the removal. Don't worry if you don't get them all on the first pass, I second treatment may be needed to get the results you are looking for.

Importance of paint protection

Now that your back to perfection lets now look at protecting your paint against possible damage in the future. There are many types of protections that are made for vehicles today, ranging from paint sealants, paint protection films, wraps and coatings. With all of these products on the market, it can be a daunting task to know what one is the right one for you.

As a Mobile Detailer, I have used them all, from the professional line products that tend to be more expensive to off the shelf products. I have come to an understanding over time, it's what my clients are looking for. Some just want some protection and others are willing to pay for a product that will give them years of protection. Protection in what form you choose is important no matter what type you choose for your car's exterior. It about maintaining its looks for years to come.

It's also good to know, that the next time you have to get after the bug graveyard of your 65 MPH bug killer. You will be able to clean them off with less effort and protect your paint from their space monster blood and guts.


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