Bilt Hamber Surfex-HD review: the all-purpose, all purpose cleaner

Value for money, bio-degradable and infinitely useful, Surfex-HD is the closest thing to an all-in-one car cleaner.

Bilt Hamber on a car bonnet

by Ryan Gilmore |

A simple, do-it-all car cleaning product sounds too good to be true. You might think it'll be like one of those three-in-one shower toiletries that are so compromised they don't do anything. Asking a single product to be delicate enough to use on carpets and interior upholstery while also being able to cut through grease and oil sounds like an impossible task. Bilt Hamber's Sufex-HD begs to differ.

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This water-based all-purpose cleaner (APC) is a degreaser that has been developed to be diluted to suit pretty much any automotive surface you can think of including paintwork, plastics, trim pieces and interior fabrics. Dilutable down to 1:1000 for light duties or able to be used neat for heavy decontamination we decided to put it through its paces on three varied parts of a car.

The supposed versatility of the APC doesn't end there either, Surfex-HD can be applied by spray bottle, brush or even using the foam lance of a pressure washer. Naturally, we'll be trying all three methods to see if this product is the closest thing you can get to an all-in-one car cleaner.

What's it like for the externals?

Bilt Hamber applied to a wheel via a pressure washer
©Photo: Ryan Gilmore/CAR

The obvious starting point is the paintwork. Bilt Hamber claim Surfex-HD is safe for use on paintwork, alloy wheels and tyres and could make for an interesting alternative to snow foam or pre-wash.

So, loaded into the foam cannon of a Ryobi 18V ONE Power Washer with a 1:10 dilution ratio I set about cleaning the front wing of the Volvo. The resulting 'foam' was nowhere near as thick as a conventional snow foam, but did lift a good job of lifting grime and mud away from the surface. Then, using a simple wash mitt to help agitate the surface helped lift away the grime.

The cleaned side of a car
©Photo: Ryan Gilmore/CAR

And while the resulting cleaning job would be improved with a proper shampoo treatment and a wax coating afterwards, for removing contaminants it proved to be excellent. The picture above shows how well it brought up the paintwork (even if it does show that my car is in desperate need of a good polish).

Can it be used on your interior?

Cleaning a car interior with Bilt Hamber
©Photo: Ryan Gilmore/CAR

With the Surfex-HD scoring well on the bodywork it was time to see how it would cope on the more delicate surfaces of a car's interior. For surfaces like plastics, fabric and carpet you can dilute it right down to 1:100 for lighter cleaning.

Using an interior brush and spray bottle with a 1:100 dilution ratio I found it a little weak for cleaning the interior, but when adjusted to 1:50 it became more effective. It was able to lift grease marks with ease, and without leaving behind any nasty greasy residues.

What about proper degreasing?

Cleaning a car wheel
©Photo: Ryan Gilmore/CAR

Bilt Hamber say this APC can be used as a proper degreaser too which meant I had to see if it was genuinely effective. Certain parts of a car become greasier than a post-nightclub kebab, especially around the engine bay. For some unknown reason, my engine bay was devoid of any nasty grease which left me searching around with my finger for some proper grime. And short of pouring a quart of oil over my engine or cleaning out a neglected oven, I settled on cleaning the filthy wheels using neat Surfex-HD applied to a wheel brush.

Photo: Ryan Gilmore/CAR
©Photo: Ryan Gilmore/CAR

This turned out to be an excellent test because it proved something very important about APCs - they all have their limits. There's no doubting that the wheels were degreased, but it also shows that an APC is not a blanket replacement for all car cleaning products. The orange-coloured residue left on the wheels even after cleaning is iron fallout and no matter how much product you apply, the APC won't lift it. For certain contaminants like iron fallout and bird poo, it's best to stick to the specialist cleaners.

Verdict:

This is probably as good as an APC can get. Not only is it really good at removing grime from pretty much any car surface you can name, it does it without being harmful to the planet. Add in the fact that it's good value for money as a five-litre bottle should last you ages and Bilt Hamber Surfex-HD is fantastic. Quite simply, buy a bottle and it'll always come in handy for car cleaning.

5/5

Pros Cons
• Impressive cleaning • Not a replacement for all cleaning products
• Good value for money

Bilt Hamber Surfex HD 1 Litre

Bilt Hamber Surfex HD 1 Litre
Amazon

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The same product in a smaller bottle and with a handy spray nozzle.

READ NEXT:

The best all-purpose cleaner (APC) for your car

The best spray bottles for cleaning your car

The best car pressure washers

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