Cleaning/degreasing substances including valeting

Many cleaning and degreasing substances, including those used in valeting, are harmful if not used properly, either from direct skin contact, splashes in the eye or through breathing in the mist or vapour given off. They may cause skin irritation (dermatitis) and/or have narcotic effects. Some cleaners give off vapour that is flammable and is easily ignited.

Compare safety data sheets from suppliers to find the least harmful cleaner. Use sealed proprietary equipment for cleaning/degreasing vehicle components and garage equipment. Don't use open containers (eg a bucket) of solvents for cleaning components.

In valeting, concentrations may be high, particularly when used inside vehicles. Ensure the working area is well ventilated. When working inside vehicles, leave all doors and sun-roof wide open and assess the need for local exhaust ventilation and/or forced ventilation (eg using a fan).

Direct skin and eye contact with such solvents may be harmful. Wear protective clothing, including eye protection and appropriate gloves to protect hands and forearms, which should be cleaned or replaced regularly. Maintain high standards of personal hygiene and cleanliness.

Pressure washing is also regularly carried out to external painted surfaces but may also be used in engine bays etc. Detergents are sometimes introduced into the lance to aid cleaning but are generally low risk. Full waterproof clothing may be required for persons working with this type of equipment (advice is contained in COSHH Essentials sheet SR01 - see link below). The main risks from operating this type of equipment is from electric shock and the provision of a suitably rated RCD (residual current device) is required to protect the operator from electric shock. This equipment should be regularly maintained and visual checks carried out weekly to identify damage to any of the electrical cabling and connections (both at plug and equipment).

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Updated 2024-06-05