Engine Cleaning

Cleaning your engine is actually really easy to do.  I've always been nervous to get in there and really clean my engines; I worried that I would damage the engine or something.  Well, what happens when you drive in the rain?  Where does that water go?  

So, here's what you want to do:
  1. get a few plastic shopping bags from a grocery store, take-out restaurant, etc and cover your alternator and your battery connections; if you've replaced the factory air box with a Cold Air Intake, cover that too

  2. use a garden hose and very lightly mist the engine compartment

  3. spray the engine down with a general-purpose cleaner; I've used Adam's all-purpose cleaner in the past and I've been very happy with it

  4. let the cleaner sit for a few minutes and break down the grease and nasty that's accumulated on and around your engine

  5. use a boar's hair brush to scrub the engine down; I've had success with Adam's boar's hair wheel brushes in the past.

    So you know, you want to use boar's hair because the natural, soft bristles won't damage the paint, but they hold a lot of water and quickly release the dirt into your dirty water bucket.  Boar's hair is also one of the most durable types of hair, so it won't break down or shed as quickly as camel's hair or horse's hair.

  6. use a detailing brush to scrub any areas you couldn't get with the boar's hair brush; I usually use a toothbrush for this kind of work

  7. use the garden hose to rinse everything off; again, you don't need to go nuts with the water, just use a light mist

  8. use towels to soak up as much of water as you can; I have one of those super-absorbent towels that I use just for this purpose

  9. remove the grocery bags

  10. close the hood and run the engine for a few minutes; the heat will dry out what's left of the water that the towels didn't absorb 
I don't actually clean my engine very often (because of my driving habits, the engine compartment doesn't tend to get dirty), but your mileage may vary (no pun intended).  I have found, however, that Adam's products tend to do a really good job.  They're a little more expensive, but the quality is definitely there.  Once you see what they can do on your car, I think you'll be very pleased.