Beyond the guidelines set forth in the preparation and safety tips, there are a few tricks to get the best results on your airplane pressure washing and out of your power washing equipment.
1. Work in small sections at a time, about three feet wide.
2. Rinse before proceeding to the next section to make sure that the cleaning solution does not sit on the surface for more than ten minutes to avoid streaking.
3. Use power washer accesories to make your job easier and more efficient, such as extension wands and rotating brushes.
4. Avoid pressure washing your airplane in the sun while the fuselage is hot because the pressure washing chemicals might react with the heat.
5. Always rinse generously with plenty of fresh water.
Keeping your aircraft clean is vital not only for appearance but mainly for safety and efficiency.
*Dirt accumulates in crevices of the airframe structure and it can result in corrosion spots.
*Non-pressurized aircraft that fly at lower altitudes accumulate a great deal of bugs.
*Normal engine operation and reverse thrust upon landing results in exhaust build up on the sides and tail.
Furthermore, the regular habit of power washing your airplane helps you grow familiar with the little details that make a big difference.
A trained eye will notice an irregularity such as a small leak or a defective rivet. Airplane pressure washing is not only safer but will also result in reduced drag and therefore higher fuel efficiency.
Before you start to pressure wash your aircraft, make sure that you have all the tools that you will need close at hand. You will need your pressure washer, any any attachments you may have, cleaning materials for your windshield, and your basic toolset in case you discover any issues with the plane.
Also, if you are going to clean the outside of your plane, you may as well work on the inside as well, so pick up appropriate upholstery cleaner and make sure you have a vacuum on hand for the carpets.
Check the pressure washer nozzles to see if they are clean since a clogged nozzle will increase the pressure in the water spray and it might damage the finish of your aircraft.
If you don’t have pressure washer attachments to make the job easier, you may want to consider purchasing an extension wand to reach the highest spots and a rotating power washer brush to clean the exhaust build up.
Do a mental walk-through of the procedure to plan the sequence in which you will wash each section so that you can perform a uniform pressure washing operation once you start.
The recommended procedure to pressure wash your airplane is to start at the tail and work your way to the nose, from top to bottom.
Starting at the tail, turn the airplane rudder to the left and then to the right so you can clean areas of the rudder with your pressure washer that are only exposed while in use.
When you reach the fuselage, start from the bottom and work your way up. Make sure to spend time on the nose, removing any bugs or dirt that may have accumulated. You should avoid power washing the windshield and rather use a strong sponge and a squeegie or chamois cloth to dry it without streaks (try a vinegar and water solution for anything particularly hard to remove).
Use extra cleaning agents around the engine and engine mounts. If necessary use power washer brushes to clean heavy exhaust out. These rotating brushes will make the job much easier.
Proceed to the wings and flaps (lower flaps to clean hidden areas, as you did with the rudder). While you are there, look closely for any wear and tear.
Finally, power wash the wheels and landing gear and rinse everything with plenty of water.
When learning how to wash and clean airplanes, there are many things that are quite different than the cleaning of other objects like cars and trucks for instance.
What about actual washing or spraying of aircraft; for example, not spraying directly on the aircraft windows?
Water used to wash aircraft contains detergents and traces of oils, hydrocarbons and solvents. These substances are pollutants and must not be directed to storm water.
Pollutants entering the storm water network eventually make their way out to the ocean where they cause damage to plant and animal life
Aircraft Washing Procedures
• Use a high pressure hose and if possible waterless wash aircraft
• Use a biodegradable, phosphate free detergent
• Use the minimal amount of detergent
• Wastewater is to be recovered from aircraft washing using bunding equipment and a wet vacuum or similar equipment
• Operators must dispose of wash water at a suitable location off Airport in accordance with the SA Water Trade Waste General Policy
• Operators are to ensure they have a SA Water Level 3 Water Restriction Permit for aircraft washing. Application forms can be downloaded from the SA Water website www.sawater.com.au
• Operators must have (MATERIAL SAFETY DATA SHEET) MSDS information readily available for products used in washing