The Art Of Aircraft Cleaning & Detailing

The Art Of Aircraft Cleaning & Detailing

aircraft cleaning and detailing

The aviation industry is a marvel of engineering and innovation, with aircraft serving as a testament to human ingenuity in conquering the skies. However, beneath the gleaming fuselage and soaring wings lies an often-overlooked aspect of aviation maintenance – aircraft cleaning and detailing. This crucial task not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of aircraft but also ensures their longevity and performance.

Cleaning and detailing an aircraft is no easy feat. It requires meticulous attention to detail, knowledge of specialized cleaning techniques, and industry-approved products. But worry not, as this article is here to guide you through the process.

What is Aircraft Cleaning and Detailing?

Aircraft cleaning and detailing is the comprehensive process of thoroughly cleaning, polishing, and maintaining the exterior and interior components of an aircraft. It involves removing dirt, grime, grease, and dust particles from both visible surfaces and hard-to-reach areas. It also includes treating windows to ensure clarity for pilots’ visibility during flight operations.

aircraft cleaning

The Importance of Aircraft Cleanliness

Here are a few reasons why aircraft cleaning and detailing is of the utmost importance:

Aerodynamic Efficiency

Any form of dirt, grease, or residue on the aircraft’s exterior disrupts its smooth airflow, leading to increased drag. This can result in reduced fuel efficiency and increased operating costs for the operator. Regularly cleaning and detailing the aircraft helps remove these contaminants, allowing for optimal aerodynamic performance.

Corrosion Prevention

Aircraft are subjected to various environmental elements, such as salt-laden air, pollution, UV radiation, and runway grime. These factors can contribute to corrosion, which weakens the plane’s structure. Regular cleaning removes any corrosive agents on the aircraft’s surface, preventing long-term damage and ensuring its structural integrity.

Foreign Object Debris (FOD) Prevention

FOD refers to any foreign object or debris that can pose a threat to aircraft safety. This can include loose nuts and bolts, gravel, or even bird strikes. By maintaining a clean aircraft, inspecting for FOD is easier and more thorough.

Operational Efficiency

Aircraft cleaning and detailing contribute to operational efficiency in several ways. For instance, a clean exterior allows for accurate inspection and identification of potential issues or abnormalities. This ensures timely maintenance and minimizes the risk of delays, due to unforeseen mechanical problems. Conversely, the interior of an aircraft must be kept clean to reduce the spread of germs and allergens, thereby ensuring a healthy and comfortable environment for passengers and crew. The visual appearance of the interior is just as important as the exterior during flights, as the owner remains enclosed in the cabin for numerous hours and can easily notice any discrepancies regarding interior detailing.

Permagard Aircraft Paint Polymer

Aircraft Cleaning Tools and Products

You need the right tools and products to effectively clean and detail an aircraft. Here are some essential items to include in your aircraft cleaning kit:

  • Microfiber Cloths: These soft and lint-free cloths are perfect for wiping down surfaces without scratching or leaving residue behind. Microfiber cloths are highly absorbent, and ideal for cleaning windows, mirrors, and instrument panels.
  • Aircraft-Grade Cleaners: It is essential to use cleaners specifically designed for aircraft use. Aircraft-grade cleaners are formulated to remove dirt, grease, and other contaminants without damaging sensitive aircraft surfaces. They are often available in concentrated form, and dilution instructions should be followed precisely.
  • Non-Abrasive Cleaning Brushes: Brushes with soft, synthetic bristles are ideal for cleaning aircraft interiors. You can use them to remove dust, dirt, and debris from hard-to-reach areas.
  • Extension Poles and Squeegees: To access high and hard-to-reach areas of the aircraft’s exterior without access equipment, such as a cherry picker or a scissor lift, extension poles and squeegees are indispensable. They make it easier to clean and dry hard-to-reach surfaces.
  • Aircraft Detailing Products: Permagard is approved by many aircraft OEM, and when it is properly applied, it makes the aircraft shine with a polished and professional finish. It helps to restore and protect the aircraft’s exterior surfaces, providing a high-gloss shine and long-lasting protection against UV rays, dirt, and grime.

Interior Aircraft Cleaning and Detailing

Cleaning and detailing the interior of an aircraft requires attention to detail and thoroughness. Here are some steps to follow for a comprehensive interior cleaning:

Clear Out and Organize

Before beginning the cleaning process, it is essential to clear out any personal belongings, trash, or unnecessary items from the plane’s interior. After removing everything, organize the remaining essentials and ensure you stow them away securely.

Vacuuming and Dusting

The next step in interior cleaning is to thoroughly vacuum the aircraft’s interior, including seats, carpets, and floor mats. It requires using a high-powered vacuum cleaner with upholstery and crevice attachments, effectively removing dirt, dust, and debris from all surfaces. When vacuuming and dusting the interior, be thorough and concentrate on hard-to-reach areas, such as corners, seat crevices, and under seats.

Cleaning the Surfaces and Windows

After vacuuming and dusting the interior, clean all surfaces using an aviation-approved cleaner and microfiber cloths. Start with the cockpit area, including control panels, switches, and displays. For seats, use the appropriate cleaner based on the type of material, such as leather, fabric, or synthetic. You can follow the manufacturer’s instructions to achieve the best results.

When cleaning windows, it is recommended to use an aviation-safe glass cleaner and a lint-free microfiber cloth. Ideally, spray the cleaner onto the fabric (not directly onto the window) and wipe the glass in a circular motion, ensuring a streak-free finish. Take extra care to clean and polish the window’s edges and corners.

aircraft paint protection

Exterior Aircraft Cleaning and Detailing

The exterior of an aircraft is constantly exposed to environmental elements, including dirt, grime, and pollutants. Cleaning and detailing the exterior surfaces properly enhances the beauty of the aircraft, while also protecting the integrity of its surfaces. Here is a summary of how to do it:

Pre-Cleaning Inspection

Before the cleaning process, conduct a thorough inspection of the aircraft.

Rinsing and Washing

You should then rinse the aircraft thoroughly with water. Wash the exterior surfaces with an aircraft-grade cleaner or detergent mixed with water.

Apply the cleaner with a soft brush or sponge, working from bottom to top to reduce streaking. For more stubborn dirt or grime, use a soft bristle brush.


After thoroughly cleaning the aircraft, use a clean, soft microfiber cloth or chamois to dry the exterior gently. At this stage, concentrate on areas that tend to hold water, such as crevices and around antennas.

DIY vs. Professional Cleaning

While it is possible to clean and detail an aircraft on your own, there are certain advantages to hiring professional aircraft cleaning and detailing services. Here are some factors to consider when deciding between a DIY approach or professional assistance:

Expertise and Experience

Professional aircraft cleaning and detailing services have the knowledge, experience, and training to handle the intricacies of aircraft cleaning. They are well-versed in specialized cleaning techniques and have access to industry-approved products. This ensures the cleaning process is thorough and safe for the aircraft’s surfaces.

Time and Efficiency

Cleaning and detailing an aircraft can be a time-consuming task, especially for larger aircraft. Professional services have the staffing and efficient processes to complete the job promptly. They can be particularly beneficial for aircraft operators looking to minimize downtime and maximize operational efficiency.

Compliance with Regulations

Aircraft cleaning and detailing are subject to various regulations and guidelines, especially when it comes to environmental protection and disposal of cleaning products. Professional cleaners and detailers are well-versed in these regulations and adhere to them strictly. This ensures compliance and minimizes the risk of any legal or environmental issues.

Get Permagard From Certified Aircraft Detailers Around The World

Aircraft cleaning and detailing is a special task that requires expert assistance with access to high-quality products and equipment. That is why we recommend working with a certified detailer. Permagard is a leading aircraft paint protection product that provides long-lasting protection against UV rays, dirt, and grime. Our certified detailers have undergone specialized training and are authorized to apply Permagard, ensuring professional application and optimal results. Visit our website today to find an aircraft detailer near you. It’s time to shine and see yourself in your brand!