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Adam's FAQ - Do the Products have a Shelf Life?

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  • Adam's FAQ - Do the Products have a Shelf Life?

    More good information from Dylan @ Adams!!

    The next in my series of FAQ threads, addressing our most common questions and concerns with aspects of detailing.

    So you've invested a good amount of money into detailing chemicals to care for your car, truck, SUV or bike. Because some chemicals, like polishes, are low volume use its common to start to have bottles that are a few years old before they're completely used up. The listing below is to serve as a guideline for product 'expiration' and means to determine if you need to replace something. This by no means is an exact timetable. Products should be evaluated regularly to determine their usefulness. If you have any questions about the current condition of a product you own please email with a description of your concern and if possible a picture of its undisturbed state.


    As tempting as it may be to show your friends up with a complete collection of 5 gallon refills, this might not always be the best practice when it comes to keeping your chemicals fresh. As a general rule try to never buy more of any one product than you can see yourself reasonably using in 1-2 years time. Not only are products fickle when it comes to use beyond that timeframe, Adam's does reformulate and tweak formulas every few years. If you're stocked up with 5 years of chemical, it can be rather frustrating when that new 'stuff' is released.

    There are a few general rules that should be followed with all your detailing chemicals to make sure they're ready to use and not prematurely ruined.

    TEMPERATURE - Products should be stored in a temperature controlled environment whenever possible. If your garage dips below 40* in the winter months or sees temps north of 85-90* in the summer it would be in your best interest to store the products indoors. Heat and cold will have a dramatic impact on products, can alter their composition, and generally render them useless or ineffective.

    SUNLIGHT EXPOSURE - Whenever possible detailing chemicals should be stored in a closed cabinet or at the very least out of direct sunlight exposure for extended periods of time. Sun can cause color and scent changes, as well as performace issues with products like Glass Cleaner, Waterless Wash, and All Purpose Cleaner. Chemicals being exposed to sunlight during use isn't a concern, but try to return the bottles to a shady or covered area if they won't be used for more than a few minutes.

    SHAKE BEFORE EACH USE - All chemicals should be shaken well prior to each use. Chemicals that have been in storage for extended periods of time should be shaken even more and for a longer period to ensure that they are fully mixed. If a product will be stored for an extended period of time without use, try to at least make a point to shake the bottle very few months to prevent permanent separation.

    LONG TERM CAPPING - Any chemical that will be stored for more than a few months without use should be re-capped with the red shipping plug that was inserted at the time of bottling. Remove any sprayers and replace with caps if possible. The red shipping caps under the lids ensure an air tight seal and reduce the chances of product failure.

    CLEANING BOTTLES - before storing your products be sure that there is no residual chemical residues on the bottom or sides of the bottle. Not only will these make a mess of whatever storage area you have chosen, there is also a risk of damage to the label or bottle which could potentially result in a leak or other issue with the product while not in use. Wipe each bottle dry before putting it away.

    All Purpose Cleaner, Leather & Interior Cleaner, Green Wheel Cleaner, Detail Spray, and Invisible Undercarriage Spray are all relatively forgiving when it comes to temperature. They may have some visual chemical separation or slight color changes over time, but so long as the product can be shaken and does not re-separate it is safe to use. All Purpose Cleaner and LIC are especially susceptible to sun exposure. As little as 10 minutes in direct or intense sunlight will bleach these products out... it still works fine, but may have an odd aroma if this happens. Invisible Undercarriage Spray experiences a higher than usual expansion and contraction rate with heat... as such it can cause bottles to crack and/or leak when the bottle is outside of the recommended temp range. Keep this in mind when choosing your storage area as it can stain if it does leak.

    Super VRT, Original VRT, and Car Wash Shampoo are particularly susceptible to cold. Freezing of car wash or SVRT will result many times in an odd separation of the chemicals parts where the product will appear like jello in the middle, surrounded by a thin/runny liquid. Even after shaking these may not remix. To determine if your bottle needs to be replaced shake the product very well then set on a level surface undisturbed for 1-2 days. If the product separates out again in this time it should be replaced. If it doesn't then it will be safe to use. If either product becomes excessively watery or runny it may have been exposed to high heat and should be replaced.

    Paint polishes including Severe Swirl Remover, Swirl & Haze Remover, Fine Machine Polish, & Revive. Because polishes are comprised of 2 parts (liquid and solid) they tend to separate mostly with time. Heat and cold tend not to play as large a role in their storage as other chemicals. Because of this polishes can generally be stored outdoors (garage) so long as no freezing occurs. Some separation will happen even after a short storage in ideal temps so it is absolutely required that all polishes be shaken well prior to use. Failure to get the product fully mixed can result in an abnormally high or low amount of abrasives suspended and ultimate change how the product performs on your paint.

    Metal Polish 1, Metal Polish 2, and Brilliant Glaze separate quickly. This is perfectly normal... a clearish solution will rise to the top while the larger, more opaque solids fall to the bottom. Its suggested that you not allow these products to sit in a 'separated' state for more than 3 months at any given time as they may become difficult to remix. Avoid freezing temps at all costs, all 3 products are more forgiving of heat than they are of cold.

    Buttery Wax, Leather Conditioner, Clay Bars, and Super Sealant should be stored in a temp controlled environment. Freezing and/or excessive heat have detrimental effects on these products performance so storing in the proper location is key. Buttery Wax specifically may experience some oily separation on the upper layer if exposed to high heat. Try shaking the bottle well and inspecting to make sure it remixed. If it begins to develop that oily upper layer again the product is likely no good and should be replaced.

    Americana is most harmed by high heat which can cause melting, separation, and tub warping. On the positive side hard waxes like Americana can be stored in a refrigerator without any harm to the product. If storing in a refrigerator make sure to allow additional time before use for the product to come up to a usable temperature. DO NOT MICROWAVE THE PRODUCT AT ANY TIME! When storing Americana the surface of the wax should be free of any debris and the applicator should be removed from the pot. The applicator is only placed under the lid for shipping purposes and can cause issues if left inside the pot for extended periods of time.

    Aerosol products like In & Out Spray and Quick Sealant can be stored in moderate environments without any degradation to performance. Some caution should be exercised in conditions of extremely high temps as the added pressure can result in sprayer failure or other problems. When done with any aerosol product dispose of the can appropriately by holding it upside down and expelling the remaining propellant into a trashcan. Once fully discharged the can is 100% recyclable.