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When I work in the shop, I get dirty.  I’ve known guys who could wear white while rebuilding a Chevy 350 diesel, but I’m not one of ’em.  I end up with s#!$ on my hands, arms, and sometimes even my face (depending on how itchy my nose is.)

To get it off, I’ve always used the famous tub of orange grit pictured above.  But after cleaning up in the shop this morning, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe I’m missing the boat.  I’ve seen guys use the pink liquid (like you find in the restrooms at the ballpark), Lava soap, and even plain, old-fashioned dish soap.

So I thought I’d ask all you Toolmongers what you think.  Is the Fast (and furious) Orange goo the hot ticket, or is there a great cleansing product of myth and legend that I’m missing?

Let us know in comments.

Fast Orange [Permatex]
Street Pricing [Froogle]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]


37 Responses to Hot or Not: Fast Orange Hand Cleaner

  1. Quentin says:

    I love orange hand cleaner! I haven’t tried Fast Orange, but I do use GOJO and it works a treat! I haven’t been able to stain my hands with anything that GOJO cannot take off. Also, I think the pumice in the cleaner really helps.


  2. William says:

    When I was working in a machine shop we used Lever 2000 bar soap for most stuff but switched to a big tub of generic powdered laundry soap for heavy grease removal. It was pretty rough on your hands but took off everything pretty quickly.

    Of course, if it was really bad, a quick dip of your hands in the solvent tank always did the trick. Plus you got that fun tingling feeling for an hour or so afterwards 🙂

  3. Adam says:

    Working on the dairy farm, we always used Fast Orange ( or quick orange, or ____ Orange cleaner ) and it’s always worked very well. Anything with pumice in it is especially effective at removing that really ground-in grease.

    At the bike shop we use GOOP, if i remember correctly, which is petroleum based and does a pretty good job also. It doesn’t have the pumice in it though, which means I end up using a scrub brush or washing after with Lava soap to get everything off. Of course, I might be the exception to the rule- 30+ year old motorcycle grease is REALLY sticky stuff!

  4. SlowJoeCrow says:

    I see no reason to switch from Fast Orange. I have a pump dispenser, that makes it easier to use, actually 2 of them , the gallon size jug in the cabinet and a 6″ high “Dalek” by the sink that I have been refilling for 10 years.

  5. Andy says:

    Haven’t used Fast Orange, but some thoughts on other products mentioned above, and one not:

    1)Goop is pretty awesome, although it is definitely, well, goopy. I first encountered it in shop class in jr high, and found it again at my corner deli/convenience store recently, and picked some up to try at work (I work in a sound rental shop for concerts and theatre; we spend most days handling LOTS of very, very dirty speaker and mic cables!). Still works as well as I remembered it, and you can use it as laundry stain remover, too, which is a little creepy, but awesome.

    2)Gojo works well, but the orange one leaves you smelling like orange Tic-Tacs for the next day and a half. The lemon version has a much subtler smell.

    3)Lava Pro is far and away the best of these products I’ve ever used. We got some from a local industrial hardware supplier we buy a lot of pieces and parts from, and none of the other ones we’ve tried have been quite as good, although most are pretty close.

    4)I can’t remember the brand, but that same supplier also carries these really cool blue hand wipes that have the pumice cleaner impregnated in them. Take a wipe from the pop-up container, wipe your hands, and you’re done, no mess, no water. Maybe somebody out there recognizes what the heck I’m talking about and can post a name?

    Tools, Toys and Tales for Stagehands

  6. John says:

    Andy, I’ve used those wipes too (I think GoJo actually made them?), and I love them, though I could do without the orange smell. There are other brands out there that smell different (read: better).

    I was brought up on GoJo and Goop, and I still prefer their industrial stank over the orange stuff. I also can’t stand the pumice — too rough on your hands (I know, wahh waah), and you can’t get it off for love or money if you don’t have water handy. Having gritty hands is almost as bad as having greasy hands.

  7. TimUnderwood says:

    I’m not sure if they still make them but Lava sold handy wipes in a plastic pop-up tub, like baby wipes only for dirty hands. I keep them in my van for emergency clean ups. Sams used to have the Fast Orange un the gallon size with the pump on top. Just add a potato brush to get under the nails and your hands are always clean.

  8. Stuey says:

    I was at Sam’s Club earlier today with a guest pass to pick up batteries. They don’t have Fast Orange but they had a large pump container of GoJo w/ brush.

    I picked up some Fast Orange @ Lowes after seeing this entry. Until now I’ve been using Dawn foaming dishwashing liquid and Joy dish gel.

  9. Myself says:

    The orange stuff left my hands red and itchy last time I used it. It got me clean, but I don’t touch it anymore. For ground-in dirt, I have a tub of Boyd’s “water activated” granulated cleaner that works miracles and doesn’t annoy my skin. I believe Boyd’s is out of business now, so I’m trying to make that tub last as long as I can.

    There’s also a slimy formulation of “waterless” hand cleaner, I don’t remember what it says on the tub but I know it “contains lanolin” and works wonders. Has a unique and pleasant smell, too.

    By far the best advice for clean hands after car work is to prepare them *before* you start: Smear some “silicone glove” or just regular moisturizer into your hands, which fills the crannies that the grease normally sneaks into. Afterward, cleanup is a breeze. I’ve had very good luck with Eucerin brand moisturizer, which is usually a buck a tube in the travel/samples section, and a one-ounce tube lasts a long time. It’s unscented and hypoallergenic. too.

  10. Evan N. says:

    Hot. I too have had good luck with Fast Orange. I get the Costco size bottle with pump. I also have other uses besides in the auto shop. I keep my BBQ tools out on the grill, (fair weather Los Angeles) so I leave them greasy when I’m finished to prevent rust. Before grilling, I hit them first with Fast Orange before washing them in the kitchen sink. Really loosens up the sooty BBQ grease. Maybe I should try cleaning the grill with it too.

  11. O'Bunny says:

    To follow on from “Myself” — if you work a small amount of dishwashing liquid onto your hands before you start, it makes cleanup *much* easier.

    I’ve found that working dishwashing liquid into the grease without water, then running the water works much better. Get the surfactants well bonded with the grease before introducing the water.

    I’m allergic to citrus, so any of the orange/lemon/grapefruit clensers are a no-go for me.

  12. tj says:

    I like the fast orange but I really like Boraxo – you remember this stuff, it used to be in all the old time gas stations etc. There is borax laundry detergent, but it is different. If you look hard enough, you can find it (Stater Bros in so cal , Fastenal, etc) I picked up a dispenser on ebay to mount it to remind me of days gone by….

  13. Michael B says:

    I’m with you on Boraxo, that has always been my favorite. I’ll have to check at stater bros, thanks for the tip.

  14. Hank says:

    GoJo, Goop, or the pop-up sheets also now made by Shop Towels are all good except for adhesives, and nothing beats Acetone and a brush. Acetone may have harmful effects on skin, lungs, hell, everything, but I use it. I will look into Boraxo, thanks.

  15. Jmarsh says:

    Very hot. I used to prefer a straight bar of Lava, until I discovered the ultimate use for Fast Orange:

    At crawfish boils. When you’ve been eating crawfish all day, you get ungodly amounts of cayenne and spicy goodness stuck in every freaking crevice of your finger nails. Fast Orange is the *only* way to get the crawfish stink off your hands without taking two showers, and you can wash it off by grabbing a handful of ice or two off of the beer!

  16. ba614 says:

    HOT! Fast Orange is great stuff

  17. ck1dog says:

    I’m with Hot for $orange. But re: Myself – am I the only one who cheats and uses latex gloves instead of dishsoap or anything else to protect?

  18. James B says:

    HOT- I got roofing tar caulk all over my hands last night, and the Fast Orange with pumice scrubbed it all off in about three tries. But later when I went to floss my teeth I got a bit-o-solvent in my mouth. Yech.

  19. nrChris says:

    This is the stuff that I always used in the bike shop, love the smell and it cleans really well. A little too abrasive, but I guess that is what we need to remove all of the gunk.

  20. TL says:

    I’m a fan. Nothing else seems to be able to get all the gunk out from under my fingernails.

    If I’m going to be starting a really dirty project I’ll use the liquid glove stuff up to my elbows and then wear latex gloves on my hands.

  21. Pencilneck says:

    I’ve used a wide range of hand cleaners over the years (I’m a grease monkey by trade). Fast Orange and other like it are the the worst… other than smelling nice, it really isn’t that good. It is hell on your skin (dries it out) and really doesn’t clean as good as other products.

    Goop is much better than the orange cleaners… it doesn’t eat your skin up as much and if used with a soft bristle brush, Goop does a pretty good job.

    But for the last 7 years I’ve been using Zep hand cleaner (green and the “cherry”) and of all the hand cleaners I’ve used found it to be the best.


    That is the top dog of hand cleaners.

  22. Old Donn says:

    This stuff’s as good as anything on the shelf at Murrays or Checker. Got a gallon jug in the garage and the basement. But, as someone mentioned above, it will cause irritation due to the citric acid. A quick soap & water wash afterward is a good idea.

  23. Ryan says:

    Also a grease monkey by trade, I have to second Pencilneck’s mention of Zep products — Though my personal favorite is the powdered F-7 hand cleaner. The green stuff works well, but I don’t care for the lanolin moisturizer that it leaves on your hands.


  24. Vanti says:

    Regular baby wipes do a great job of cleaning grease from my hands. I discovered this on a very bad day with a kid in a broken down car. Now, it’s all I use.

  25. Xaq Fixx says:

    HOT!! I’m a desk jockey now, but spent several years in the air force working on Precision Guided Munitions, messy as hell between painting, testing, and repiaring. We always kept Goop in the show, basicly the same stuff as fast orange, gritty orange goo. My father inlaw flips houses and keeps fast orange on hand, as does my a freind with a bike shop, this stuff is wonderful.

  26. joe says:

    The regular Permatex ‘Hand Cleaner’ is great too. No pumice and they put lanolin and aloe in it. You don’t need water either (just smear it on, rub off the dirt and wipe your hands with a paper towel) so you don’t need to go cleaning doorknobs after you find a sink.

  27. TMIB says:

    The combination that I’ve found that works great:

    Boraxo and Gojo. I use the Gojo first, without any water, then use powdered boraxo to scrub. After most of the boraxo has flaked away I add some water and turn it into lather. The combination tends to pull off most of the greasy stuff that gets on my hands from working on motorcycle engines.

    Of course the best thing you can do is moisturize your hands regularly, so that when you get grease and stuff on them, it doesn’t “soak in” like it does when your hands are dry and cracking.

  28. carisa says:

    i’m not going to lie. this is the only hand cleaner i use. i was doing a simple oil change one day and i got grease all over my hands and arms. the paste got it off amazingly, only thing was i couldn’t see that i had gotten all greasy over the back of my arms too! i ended up getting grease streaks all over the sleeves of one of my favorite shirts, so i tried to see how the orange cleaner would do on clothes. amazingly, if you just rub it into the fabric, it will help the grease right out along with warm water!!! i use it all over the house now. for greasy kitchen tops. for gritty bathtub. it’s the cleaner i swear by AND it’s not tough on the hands!! best. stuff. ever. and it smells wayyy better than harsh chemical products THAT’S for sure.

  29. perruptor says:

    I came up allergic to GoJo after using it a lot for several years. For a low-effort, thorough hand cleaning, try Jergens Moisturizing Hand Cleaner. Rub it in, add water and wash, then rinse it off. Despite the name, it leaves no residue. Works much better than dish detergent or the gritty stuff. It’s in the supermarket, and it’s pretty cheap. There are generic versions that are even cheaper.

  30. bailey benson. Polk Elementary 4th grade says:

    I did my 4th grade science fair project on “Which cleans greasy hands better: Fast Orange, bar soap(caress) or WD40? I race a 1/4 midget race car and we get very dirty working on it. This is how we decided on this project. We found that in a 30 second hand wash on greasy hands from old car parts that Fast Orange cleaned that best, followed very closely behind by WD-40. The bar soap was really bad. At the end, we found that if you spray your hands with WD-40 and rub them together real hard and then clean with Fast Orange that it gets your hands perfectly clean. Remember to not use any water until you have finished rubbing with fast Orange. Then simply dry with a shop cloth and your hands will be squeaky clean.

  31. Jeff says:

    Fast orange cleans well but beats up your hands. If you want a waterless hand cleaner try the Kresto Kreme or scrubs in a bucket. I found both at http:.//www.jdindustrialsupply.com

    They worked just as well but did not dry out my hands.

  32. smith says:

    Try the stoko skin care products. The Solopol works much better then fast orange. They also have Kresto hand cleaner. Easier on your hands!

    I found them both at http://www.krestohandcleaner.com

  33. Kelli says:

    I also found the kresto Kreme is much easier on the hands and does a better job then fast orange.

    I bout it at http://www.jdindustrialsupply.com

  34. Mean Green Hand Cleaner is the Best! You have got to try this stuff.

    It will take off anything!
    No qualification here. We have simply been unable to find anything the working person gets his hands into that MEAN GREEN Hand Scrub can’t remove. Tar, asphalt, grease, oil, bondo, glue, adhesives, paint (wet or dry), printers ink (this is what it was invented for), etc… This makes it sound like it is a really harsh industrial hand cleaner loaded with solvents — NOT SO!

    MEAN GREEN will actually help your hands heal!
    MEAN GREEN Hand Scrub exactly how you see it, is presently being sold to cosmetic companies in bulk to be repackaged into fancy little bottles and then sold by fashion boutiques as a Ladies Face Scrub! There are absolutely NO petroleum solvents of any kind in the formula. Don’t be fooled by other hand cleaner companies that claim “petroleum solvent free”. All they do is substitute harsh D’Limonene (turpentine made from orange peels) or “mineral spirits” or some other harsh solvents which are terrible for your hands.

    It is the cheapest hand cleaner you will ever love!
    MEAN GREEN Hand Scrub is so concentrated, you will get 300 hand washes per pound! That works out to about 2 cents per wash. SAVE up to 58% compared to waterless. GoJo, DL, Loyal and all “other WATERLESS” hand cleaners cost you from 8 to 12 cents per wash. Whoa, you say, won’t I waste MEAN GREEN Hand Scrub? Simple, MEAN GREEN is so concentrated that if you try to use too much, you will spend quite a while trying to get it off your hands, thus defeating the purpose of waste. MEAN GREEN Hand Scrub is the only self regulating hand cleaner on the market!

    For more information on Mean Green Hand Scrub check out this blog at http://meangreenpowerhandscrub.blogspot.com/

  35. Willie says:

    I work at a printshop and we use alcohol and water based inks . I have tried Gojo with pumice but was very harsh for the hands then tried Fast orange with pumice it was pretty good and gentle with the hands but it didnt work with alcohol based inks then I tried Orange goop it was the best of the 3 , it worked on every ink we used and it was gentle with the hands . It worked pretty good for me so far with everything .

  36. mocarter says:

    I use it on laundry stains. Works when all else fails! It’s now the only stain remover I use.

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