Brand spotlight: putting 26JPN to the test

Take one mucky Jeep Wrangler, add in 11 of 26JPN's cleaning products and see if three journalists can make it look decent.

The 26JPN products on the fender of a Jeep Wrangler.

by Ryan Gilmore |

26JPN may not be the largest company in the world, but it offers a selection of high-quality car cleaning products. Embracing the Japanese business philosophies of Kaikaku (radical change) and Kaizen (continuous improvement), each product claims to offer excellent performance, quality and overall stability.

To see if they're worth trying or just PR bluff, we've tested a range of its car cleaning products to see whether you should switch up your regular detailing brands and embrace something a little different.

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What we're testing:

26JPN Fallout

26JPN Wheel Soap

26JPN Hydro Tyre

26JPN Bug & Grime

26JPN Snow Foam

26JPN Shampoo

26JPN Microfibre Wash Mitt

26JPN Ultra-Soft Detail Brushes

26JPN Gloss QD

26JPN Hydro Coat

26JPN Crystal Coat

The challenge

A very muddy Jeep Wrangler
©Photo: Parkers

This is a Jeep Wrangler, more specifically one that's just returned from a day out green laning at the hands of Richard Kilpatrick. As a result, it's filthy and now represents the perfect testing ground for the 26JPN cleaning products.

Cleaning the wheels

26JPN Wheel Soap, Hydro Tyre and Fallout next to the wheel of a Jeep
©Photo: Chris Williams/CAR

As any good detailer knows, you start any car cleaning job with the wheels. The wheels of the Jeep were particularly dirty from the offroad jaunt and ripe with contaminants for us to try out the three wheel-cleaning products 26JPN had sent us; Fallout, Wheel Soap and Hydro Tyre.

The 26JPN Fallout was the first thing we applied to the wheels, designed to remove iron contaminants from wheels and bodywork, we liberally sprayed each wheel with it to see how good it was. Try not to smell it, but watch in amazement as the gel-like substance changes colour to a deep, blackcurrant purple as it reacts with the iron contaminants and helps dislodge them. I can't overstate just how good this spray was, a definite must for removing fallout.

26JPN Fallout used on the Jeep's alloys
©Photo: Chris Williams/CAR

After rinsing the wheels with a pressure washer we tested out the 26JPN Wheel Soap. First impressions were good, it's highly concentrated so a small bottle should last for ages, it's pH neutral making it safe for all wheels and it has a really pleasant smell to it. Using a wheel brush and the soap we were able to dislodge any pieces of dirt the Fallout may have missed and make the alloys sparkle. Although being honest, the Fallout did such a good job the Wheel Soap was almost redundant.

26JPN Wheel Soap and a wheel brush used on the Jeep's alloys
©Photo: Chris Williams/CAR

The final product we tested was the Hydro Tyre, a satin-finish tyre dressing. It's a futile effort to apply tyre shine to gigantic mud-plunging tyres, the Jeep wasn’t the best place to try the Hydro Tyre out but the results are still decent. If it can make a pair of chunky offroad tyres look good then it'll be perfect for lower-profile tyres too.

Overall, it's a very strong start for 26JPN. The thick coating of mud and contaminants were easily dealt with and the overall finish was spectacular. That being said, the Fallout was the standout product here, easily cutting through the grime and sticking incredibly well to the wheel once spayed on.

Cleaning the body

The dirty side of the Jeep Wrangler
©Photo: Chris Williams/CAR

The meat and potatoes of the car cleaning process is cleaning the body. After bringing the wheels back to a showroom standard with ease we were expecting good things from the washing products on offer. And with a grime spray, snow foam and shampoo to test, alongside a wash mitt and set of detailing brushes, we expected really good things.

The first thing we tested was the Bug & Grime spray, an alkaline cleaner designed to dislodge dead insects, grime and dirt ready to be washed away with a pressure washer. It's a bit like a pre-wash and we found it to be a nice, but not essential step for cleaning cars. We purposely left some dirt for the snow foam and found it was equally as effective on lumps of dirt. Still, the lemon scent was nice.

26JPN Bug and Grime is sprayed onto the Jeep's license plate
©Photo: Chris Williams/CAR

We're big fans of snow foam here at CAR and were excited to see how effective the 26JPN Snow Foam would be on the mud and deposits that cover the Jeep. As we were using the Worx power washer, we didn't dilute the snow foam as much as the bottle instructed on account of the reduced pressure. However, the results were fantastic and the snow foam was clingy and thick. It vanquished the bigger bits of dirt and the cherry scent wasn't too bad either.

Snow foaming the side of the Jeep
©Photo: Chris Williams/CAR

With the snow foam having got rid of most of the dirt we moved to the next stage, shampoo. Filling two buckets with water the concentrated 26JPN Shampoo was added to one and the water agitated with the 26JPN Wash Mitt. It lathered up well in the bucket and was very good at attacking those small areas the other products may have missed. Even with its slab sides, the paintwork was beginning to look fantastic.

A detailing brush on the Jeep logo
©Photo: Chris Williams/CAR

The 26JPN Ultra-Soft Detail Brushes were also introduced at this stage. Not only were they almost too satisfying to use on the various styling elements of the Jeep but they were easy to hold and of exceptional quality. The soft boar's hair bristles were robust enough to lift dirt while remaining soft enough to not risk scratching the paint. The plastic handles also ensure that you won't leave any nasty marks on your car if you're a little hamfisted.

A washmitt used on the Jeep
©Photo: Chris Williams/CAR

The shampooing stage also allowed us to test the 26JPN Microfibre Wash Mitt. We regularly sing the benefits of the wash mitt here on CAR and this is a particularly good example. What impressed us most was the incredibly thick microfibre (700gsm) that will collect water and shampoo without ever damaging your paintwork.

The white cuff, aside from making your hand look like it was wearing a turtleneck, was comfortable to wear for long periods of time and the mitt featured an internal split to give you better hand control, a great touch.

As the paintwork was patted down with drying towels it was clear that the 26JPN products had excelled once again. If anything the products were too good and began to erode the usefulness of the other products. It was clear we could skip a step and still get awesome-looking results.

Finishing

The reflection in the Jeep Wrangler's paintwork
©Photo: Chris Williams/CAR

Once the shampoo is off and the car is looking presentable it's time to make sure it stays looking that way for as long as possible. Thankfully 26JPN provided us with three products perfect for finishing the job.

The first product we tested was the Gloss QD, a spray that's designed to bring out a deep gloss in the paintwork. It was a simple spray that immediately brightened up the paintwork, so long as you buffed it a bit with a drying towel. It left a nice scent on the car and didn't leave any streaks either. It would be a great top-up product for keeping a car looking clean without having to crack the buckets and pressure washer out.

Water beading off a bonnet after the Hydro Coat has been applied
©Photo: Chris Williams

The Hydro Coat and Crystal Coat were the final steps and the ultimate way of protecting it. The Hydro offers hydrophobic protection for the paintwork while the Crystal is a spray-on ceramic coating.

The stern warning on both bottles not to let it dry on the car meant quickly became a job of buffing the product as soon as it touched the car. They can be applied together and helped unlock even more gloss in the paintwork.

The hydrophobic spray meant that water beaded off the paintwork, a great way to protect your newly cleaned car. The Crystal was a little harder to demonstrate but will offer long-term protection from debris and grime, as well as giving an even better gloss to the paintwork.

The verdict

A very clean Jeep Wrangler
©Photo: Chris Williams/CAR

The image really speaks for itself. The Jeep has gone from a muddy mongrel to first in class at Crufts will little more than an hours work. These products may be at the premium end of the market but the results speak for themselves.

In truth, each product is worth a purchase but with an arm twisted, the Fallout, Snow Foam and wash mitt were the most impressive while the Wheel Soap and Bug & Grime spray certainly languish at the bottom of the shopping list.

26JPN product breakdown

26JPN Fallout

26JPN Fallout
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This clingy gel for removing iron fallout seriously impressed us with how good it was. It may not smell the best but was so effective at cutting through grime and mud that we almost didn't need to clean the wheels with anything else. It reacts with the iron to show you it's working and it's safe for all types of alloy. It can also be used on bodywork.

26JPN Wheel Soap

26JPN Wheel Soap
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Another solid effort from 26JPN for cleaning wheels the Wheel Soap smelt better than the Fallout spray and was good for catching any areas we originally missed. The super-concentrated formula will last you a long time and while it didn't blow us away like the Fallout, it's still effective.

26JPN Hydro Tyre

26JPN Hydro Tyre
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I'll admit that the Jeep's tyres weren't the best place to show off tyre dressing but even so, they did look pretty good with the satin finish. The Hydro Tyre was easy to apply (although an applicator sponge may help) and had a gel-like texture so it stuck to the tyres well.

26JPN Bug & Grime

26JPN Bug & Grime
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Admittedly an Alkaline cleaner like this is never going to be a garage essential for most, but it's still a good product for dislodging embedded grime. We'd only really recommend this product if you're unable to snow foam your car. But then again, who skips the snow foam stage?

26JPN Snow Foam

26JPN Snow Foam
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A good snow foam clings to bodywork and removes grime without having to apply multiple coats. We found this example to offer that nice, thick creamy coating that cuts through muck with ease. We had to adjust the dilution on account of our weaker pressure cleaner but don't let that put you off, especially if you have a proper pressure washer.

26JPN Shampoo

26JPN Shampoo
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This shampoo lathered up well and was effective on any remaining dirt. It also had an appealing smell and was easy to wash off once applied. The fact it's so concentrated means that it's also really good value for money too.

26JPN Ultra-Soft Detail Brushes

26JPN Ultra-Soft Detail Brushes
Amazon

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Parkers

If you're after good quality, ergonomically designed detailing brushes then we recommend this twin pack. The boar hair is good on mud without being too abrasive and the plastic handle is easy to hold and won't risk scratching your car.

26JPN Microfibre Wash Mitt

26JPN Microfibre Wash Mitt
Amazon

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This supremely luxurious wash mitt will guarantee your paintwork is treated correctly. It was also ergonomically designed and well made. We liked the central split for better hand control and how thick the microfibre was, a nice simple upgrade for washing your car.

26JPN Gloss QD

26JPN Gloss QD
Amazon

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This spray is a great option for a quick detailing job and will leave a very nice glossy finish on any paint. It won't last very long compared to a proper polish but is still decent. Good smell too.

26JPN Hydro Coat

26JPN Hydro Coat
Amazon

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Watching water bead off bodywork is one of life's little pleasures and the Hydro Coat distils that pleasure into a simple spray bottle. It's really easy to use and should offer three months of hydrophobic protection.

26JPN Crystal Coat

26JPN Crystal Coat
Amazon

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Ceramic coating is by far the best way to protect your car's paintwork but a proper coating can be laborious and expensive. This simple spray and buff option may only last up to nine months but will protect your paintwork and is very good value for money too.

Second opinion

Chris Williams - "The iron fallout remover was the most memorable for two reasons: it smelt like something had died and was fermenting in the bottle, and it was extraordinarily effective. The wheel shampoo became redundant following a spray and rinse of the fallout remover. Snow foam never fails to amuse and the spray wax shines up nicely, though get a proper wax if you want the real deal."

The clean Jeep with a dangling door hanger on the rear view mirror
©Photo: Chris Williams/CAR

How we tested them:

We followed our own guide to properly cleaning a car, meaning we started with the wheels before cleaning the bodywork. We also made sure we had all the other essentials required, including a pressure cleaner, two buckets for that double bucket cleaning method, a wheel brush and plenty of drying towels. Everything else was supplied to use by 26JPN.

We selected the dirtiest car available to us to see just how good the products were, the logic being that if it could work here it'd be ideal for regular cleaning. The Jeep Wrangler was ripe with mud and other contaminants that these products are designed to work against.

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