How To Clean Your Engine Bay In 5 Easy Steps

Engine Bay Cleaning A Gen 1 Ford Raptor

Every car I’ve owned has had its engine bay cleaned. It’s not a big deal to do. Many people fear they will jack something up, but the way cars are built today, wires and cables are sealed, so you don’t have to worry about anything exploding if water gets on it. Yes, that includes the alternator. If you follow a few simple steps, your engine bay cleaning will be effective and safe as mine.

Car Engine Cleaning: Why Do It?

In case you haven’t noticed the theme of our culture here at OG, we’re obsessed with most things and processes. Many of my employees and those who are part of our community are wired differently. By that, I mean we don’t do anything halfway - whether washing our vehicles, wrenching around in the garage, or putting up pictures in the living room, everything is done above average. 

Cleaning an engine bay is one task people tend to avoid or are too lazy to do. I don’t get it, but it’s a real thing. Once you see how easy and fast it is, you’ll wonder why you haven’t done it all along. You’ll also see that you don’t have to do it as often as you might think. Generally, when I purchase a new/used car, I’ll dial in the engine bay and never have to do it again because of how I maintain it during every car wash. 

We clean the engine bay because we want the car completely dialed in. You can take it a step further and get underneath your vehicle with an undercarriage cleaner, but that’s an optional step. I live in central Florida and drive only a few miles a day, so I don’t need to go to that extent, but if your living conditions are harsher or you live where it snows, this is a great tool to have in your possession. 

It’s also a good idea to have the engine bay cleaned in case you:

  1. Sell it one day and want it to be presentable, which can persuade your buyer even more.
  2. Work on your vehicle or have a mechanic work on it. It’s always nice to pop the hood and see a clean, organized engine bay.

Overall, the feeling you/I get when driving around town in a completely clean car (exterior, interior, wheels, engine bay) gives you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

5 Easy Steps To Clean Your Engine Bay

Before starting this process, you want to ensure your engine is cool and you’re not working in direct sunlight. Heat will cause your chemicals and water to dry on the surface, possibly damaging sensitive pieces. Also, spraying cold water on hot metal pieces can cause the metal to warp, so avoid a hot engine bay.  

Here’s a complete list of tools I’m using to complete this procedure:

Here are my tried and true steps to cleaning my engine bay:

  1. Rinse. Now, although it’s safe to get water on the internal components of your engine bay, don’t sit in one spot too long. You want to be constantly moving the water around. I’m using my 25-degree spray pattern on all rinsing steps. 
  2. Foam. I’m using Koch-Chemie Greenstar (an all-purpose cleaner) diluted 1:1 in my foam cannon. Foam down your engine bay and agitate with your EZ Detail Brush, Raceglaze Brush, and Lambskin Wheel Mitt. You may not need all three of these tools, but it’s nice to have them just in case you get to an area difficult to reach or need more oomph.
  3. Rinse off. Get all of the APC you just foamed off of the engine bay. Again, we don’t want to spray on any parts too long. Keep your wand moving up and down, back and forth. 
  4. Perl. Here’s where we’re going to spray the engine bay down with Perl, a water-based, protective coating for plastics, rubber, and leather. It also has UV protection formulated into it. I’m using a 750 ml Pressol sprayer bottle to apply it. It will give your engine bay a matte look and finish - the exact look you’d get from a new car. 
  5. Close the hood and walk away. That’s the beauty in using a product like Perl; you spray and walk away. Once the solution settles, it will dry on its own and leave that matte finished I mentioned in step four. Don’t start your engine after applying this stuff. Let it dwell for a few hours, and then you’re good to go. 

This entire engine bay cleaning process shouldn’t take you longer than a ½ hour; if you’re being really obsessed, maybe longer. You can see it isn’t that hard, and it won’t take you that long. Once you’ve done this, you honestly never have to do it again unless you just want to refresh the look. I tend to wipe down my engine bay after every car wash with a low pile microfiber towel and drying aid. That keeps it looking good. 

I did a complete walkthrough of me dialing in the engine bay on my previously owned Gen 1 Ford Raptor back in 2020. You’ll notice a few different products being used back then, but the steps are still the same.