Bilt Hamber Surfex HD Review
Bilt Hamber Surfex HD tops my list for the most versatile detailing product on the market. It’s a water-based degreaser/all-purpose cleaner than can be diluted to suit many cleaning needs. Some uses include:
- Interior cleaning
- Fabric cleaning
- Exterior pre-wash
- Wheel and tyre cleaner
- Engine bay cleaner
This is not an exhaustive list but is where I often use Surfex HD. It is safe to use on practically all automotive surfaces at the correct dilution ratio, however, avoid use on leather. Surfex HD is a key product for me as a detailer, delivering reliable results at a fantastic price.
This is the most versatile detailing product, period! Not only can Surfex HD be used on everything from interior trim to tyres, but it dilutes brilliantly, making it the best value for money of any detailing product in the industry. If you only buy one detailing product on the back of my recommendations, make it this.
- Works well as a pre-cleaner for paint
- Amazing degreasing properties
- Diluutes down to work on multiple jobs
- The best value for money detailing product
- Can't be used on leather
Bilt Hamber Surfex HD – Testing Process
Due to the number of uses for Surfex HD, it needs to be tested at several different dilutions. For a better explanation of how dilution ratios work, check this article.
I tested Surfex at:
- 2% dilution ratio for interior plastics
- 2% for cleaning fabric upholstery with an extractor machine
- 10% for exterior pre-wash in winter
- 20% dilution for cleaning tyres and heavy degreasing
Surfex can be applied via a spray bottle or a pump sprayer, the latter being especially useful when applying to the exterior. When used as a pre-wash I usually apply Surfex and leave it to dwell for a few minutes before rinsing with a pressure washer.
For interior plastics, I spray the diluted Surfex onto the plastic and agitate with a detailing brush before wiping with a microfibre towel. If I’m working in a more intricate area, I’ll spray Surfex into the brush itself then clean the plastic.
For fabric cleaning, I’ll spray the product onto the dirt area and agitate with a fabric brush or a drill attachment. Then I use my Bissell Spotclean to extract the solution from the fabric.
For tyre cleaning, I use a stronger dilution rate of Surfex. I’ll rinse any mud off the tyre and then spray the cleaner onto the tyre wall. I use a stiff-bristled brush to scrub the tyre clean before rinsing away the brown residue.
Ease of Application
Surfex HD is an easy product to use but does require dilution before use. I recommend having some sort of measuring cylinder to ensure accurate dilution, a few spray bottles are also handy to have.
For exterior use, it is best to just spray on and rinse, however when cleaning tyres and the interior I think it is worth taking the time to agitate the product for better cleaning ability.
Usage on Paint
I often use Surfex HD on paint when more cleaning power is required than a snow foam can give. I like to use it in wintertime when road salt and grime make cars a little harder to clean.
The ratio needed for cleaning the exterior is flexible and I’ll use Surfex at 10% concentration for a dirty car that has no wax on it. If I know a car has wax on the paint, I’ll use a 5% concentration to avoid stripping the wax. Even at this concentration, it’s still an excellent product.
For cars with a build-up of winter grime, I use a 10% dilution to shift the dirt. I use a hand sprayer to apply Surfex to the paint and leave it to dwell for between 2 and 3 minutes. If it is a particularly warm day, I’ll not leave it as long before rinsing with a pressure washer. This provides effective dirt removal, but a word of warning, at 10% dilution Surfex will still degrade any wax on the paint.
I would not use Surfex HD as a ‘quick detailer’. It does not have enough lubrication to be sprayed on dirty paint and wiped with a microfibre cloth, as this would leave to swirl marks being introduced.
As I mentioned earlier, I use Surfex for interior tasks with two main dilution rates. 2% for interior plastics and vinyl, and between 2-5% for fabric seats and floor mats.
Note – Surfex HD is not suitable for use on leather, a dedicated leather cleaner should be used instead.
When cleaning plastics I agitate with a detailing brush and wipe with a microfibre. This technique is suitable for most interior dirt.
I have cleaned tractor cabs with Surfex at this dilution and it was more than up to the task. I also use it when cleaning plastic steering wheels, which can harbour a lot of dirt and grease.
Using Surfex is a great way to return plastics to a matte finish and gives a clean surface to apply an interior dressing afterwards.
Surfex HD is not my go-to fabric cleaner, primarily as it does not contain any scent which I like a fabric cleaner to have. I will however use it on particularly dirty seats or mats at a 5% dilution, which makes short work of any tougher stains.
While I use an extractor machine when cleaning seats, Surfex could also be sprayed onto a seat or mat and blot dry with a microfibre towel. On lightly soiled seats a 2% dilution could be used such as in the photos below.
Surfex HD is a water-based degreaser, at higher dilution ratios it can take on serious cleaning tasks. When cleaning engine bays I use Surfex at a dilution ratio of 20% and agitate with a detail brush, which can clean very dirty plastics and components. I use it to clean any oil spills on the plastic components and it cleans up well.
Surfex HD can also be used for household cleaning and the degreasing capabilities make it an excellent oven cleaner. I use it at a 50% dilution to clean my own over, agitate with a scrub pad and wipe away with kitchen roll.
While Surfex is not my go-to wheel cleaner, it is what I use to clean tyres. Using a 20% dilution with a stiff-bristled brush, the solution quickly turns brown as dirt and old tyre dressings are removed. For wheels that are cleaned regularly a 10% dilution would probably be enough to clean tyres. If the surface of the tyre is brown, however, 20% will make things quicker.
If I am cleaning wheels with hub caps as opposed to alloys, I will often just use Surfex to clean these instead of using a dedicated wheel cleaner. It performs well at this too, demonstrating just how versatile the product is.
The wheels on this Ford had a heavy build-up of brake dust. I sprayed a 20% concentration of Surfex on the wheels and agitated with a detailing brush and as you can see, the results were impressive and cleaned better than a lot of so-called wheel cleaners.
Value for Money
Most retailers sell Surfex HD in a 5L bottle for around £17.00. This will go a long way depending on how strong the product is diluted.
By way of example, 5L of concentrate will make 25 litres of 20% strength solution, 50 litres of 10% solution, 100 litres of 5% solution and an impressive 250 litres of 2% solution.
That is 250L of interior cleaner for £17.00!
A 500 ml bottle of ready to use interior cleaner from other well-known manufacturer costs around £9.00, whilst 500 ml of Surfex costs just 3p when diluted at 2%.
Another manufacturer sells pre-wash solution ready to use at £10.00 per litre. Surfex HD costs just 34p per litre at 10% dilution, which is more effective at dirt removal that the ready to use pre-wash. In my opinion, Surfex HD is one of the best value detailing products on the market.
Surfex HD can be purchased in a 1 litre Bilt Hamber bottle which has a good quality trigger head; however, another bottle or container will be needed so that the product can be diluted.
The 5L jerrycans have recently been updated to have a larger spout, making pouring much easier as the product does not ‘glug’ which leads to spillage. At least one separate spray bottle will be needed to dilute the product, and these can be purchased relatively cheaply. I keep two or three bottles with a ready-made solution for convenience sake.
About Bilt Hamber
Surfex HD is one of Bilt Hamber’s most popular products, but they also manufacture shampoos, snow foams, waxes and polishes. They are specialists in corrosion protection and produce numerous rust-proofing solutions.
Bilt Hamber Surfex HD – FAQ
Does Bilt Hamber Surfex HD strip wax?
Surfex HD can be used to strip wax in preparation for applying a new coat. For wax that has been on the paint for a few months, a dilution of 5% can be enough to strip waxes, for newer waxes or sealants a dilution of 10% might be needed to remove the protection.
Can Surfex HD be used on glass?
It can be used on glass, however, it may leave streaks due to the amount of water needed to dilute the product. For extremely dirty glass, Surfex HD could be diluted at 5% and sprayed on the glass and wiped with a cloth. A glass cleaner could then be used to remove any streaks and leave a clear finish.
Can Surfex HD be used as a snow foam?
Yes, it can be used as a snow foam, adding 50ml in a 1L snow foam lance will give an effective foam pre-wash.
Is Surfex HD harmful?
Surfex HD is biodegradable and contains no VOCs.
Surfex HD is, without question, one of my favourite detailing products. It can be used for so many different tasks, which saves me the need to buy dedicated products in each category.
The value for money is incredible and I’ve not come across a detailing product that is more cost-effective than Surfex HD. It is a product that can be used by both professionals and enthusiasts, however, some might find the need to dilute the product a bit of a pain.
I would confidently recommend Bilt Hamber Surfex HD as an essential product for detailers of all levels and ability.