Dilution Ratios for Car Detailing (With Charts)

Many car cleaning chemicals need to be diluted in order to make sure they are the right concentration to work effectively and safely. In this article I’ll clearly explain these ratios and give exact measurements needed for different amounts so you don’t need to do any calculations.

Don’t forget to save this post in your favourites so you can easily find it again.

Manufactures can often state the required dilution in different forms e.g. ratio, percentage, etc. So I’ve split this article into different sections so you can find what you’re looking for. I will also provide imperial (oz.) and metric (mL) measurements in each section.

Car detailing dilution ratio chart

Here are Amazon links to some useful measuring accessories.

This section contains product affiliate links. We may receive a commission if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links.

Dilution Ratios e.g. 1:10

Most wheel cleaners, pre-washes and all-purpose cleaners will state the required dilution on the back of the bottle as a ratio e.g. 1:10. Another way of stating this dilution ratio is to say “1 part of product to 10 parts of water”.

Some manufacturers will swap the numbers around and say 10:1 instead of 1:10. In almost every case, the smaller number refers to the amount of product needed, and the larger number refers to the amount of water.

Here are some charts showing the most common dilution ratios and volumes and how much product you need to dilute in water. Simply click the dropdowns to see the amounts required for each volume. I have separated this into millilitres/ litres and fluid oz/ gallons.

To make 500 mL of solution
Dilution RatioAmount of Product NeededAmount of Water Needed
1:1250 mL250 mL
1:4100 mL400 mL
1:1045 mL455 mL
1:1531 mL469 mL
1:2024 mL476 mL
1:5010 mL490 mL
1:1005 mL495 mL
To make 1000 mL (1 litre) of solution
Dilution RatioAmount of Product NeededAmount of Water Needed
1:1500 mL500 mL
1:4200 mL800 mL
1:1091 mL909 mL
1:1563 mL937 mL
1:2048 mL952 mL
1:5020 mL980 mL
1:10010 mL990 mL
To make 5000 mL (5 litres) of solution
Dilution RatioAmount of Product NeededAmount of Water Needed
1:12500 mL2500 mL
1:41000 mL4000 mL
1:10455 mL4545 mL
1:15313 mL4687 mL
1:20238 mL4762 mL
1:5098 mL4902 mL
1:10050 mL4950 mL
To make 16 oz of solution
Dilution RatioAmount of Product NeededAmount of Water Needed
1:18 oz8 oz
1:43.2 oz12.8 oz
1:101.45 oz14.55 oz
1:151 oz15 oz
1:200.76 oz15.24 oz
1:500.31 oz15.69 oz
1:1000.16 oz15.84 oz
To make 32 oz of solution
Dilution RatioAmount of Product NeededAmount of Water Needed
1:116 oz16 oz
1:46.4 oz25.6 oz
1:102.9 oz29.1 oz
1:152 oz30 oz
1:201.5 oz30.5 oz
1:500.6 oz31.7 oz
1:1000.3 oz31.7 oz
To make 1 gallon of solution
Dilution RatioAmount of Product NeededAmount of Water Needed
1:166.6 oz66.6 oz
1:426.7 oz106.6 oz
1:1012.1 oz121.1 oz
1:1583.3 oz124.9 oz
1:206.3 oz126.9 oz
1:502.6 oz130.6 oz
1:1001.3 oz131.9 oz

How to Calculate Dilution Ratios

I’ll use an example to demonstrate.

  1. Work out how much total solution you want to make. For this example, I’ll say 500 mL of total solution.
  2. Find out the recommended dilution ratio for the product (this is usually on the back of the bottle). For this example, I’ll go with a 1:15 dilution.
  3. Work out the total number of parts needed to calculate. For this example, it’s 16 parts (1+15).
  4. Divide the total volume of solution by the number of parts. In this example, it’s 500 mL of solution divided by 16 parts = 31.25 mL. This gives us the amount that each part is worth.
  5. In this dilution, 15 parts of water are needed and 1 part of product. 15 parts of water = 31.25 mL x 15 = 468.75 mL
  6. In this dilution, 1 part of product is needed = 31.25 mL
  7. So in order to make a 500 mL solution at a 1:15 ratio you will need 468.75 mL of water and 31.25 mL of product

Percentages

It’s less common, but some manufacturers will state the required dilution for a product as a percentage.

This is different to “panel impact ratio” which is sometimes used for snow foams, and instead is just for chemicals like wheel cleaners, APCs and pre-washes. I’ll go through panel impact ratio in the next section of this article.

Here are some charts showing the most common dilution percentages and volumes, and how much product you need to dilute in water. Simply click the dropdowns to see the amounts required for each volume. I have separated this into millilitres/ litres and fluid oz/ gallons.

To make 500 mL of solution
PercentageAmount of Product NeededAmount of Water Needed
1%5 mL495 mL
2%10 mL480 mL
5%25 mL475 mL
10%50 mL450 mL
20%100 mL400 mL
50%250 mL250 mL
To make 1000 mL (1 litre) of solution
PercentageAmount of Product NeededAmount of Water Needed
1%10 mL990 mL
2%20 mL980 mL
5%50 mL950 mL
10%100 mL900 mL
20%200 mL800 mL
50%500 mL500 mL
To make 5000 mL (5 litres) of solution
PercentageAmount of Product NeededAmount of Water Needed
1%50 mL4950 mL
2%100 mL4800 mL
5%250 mL4750 mL
10%500 mL4500 mL
20%1000 mL4000 mL
50%2500 mL2500 mL
To make 16 oz of solution
Dilution RatioAmount of Product NeededAmount of Water Needed
1%0.16 oz15.84 oz
2%0.32 oz15.68 oz
5%0.8 oz15.2 oz
10%1.6 oz14.4 oz
20%3.2 oz12.8 oz
50%8 oz8 oz
To make 32 oz of solution
Dilution RatioAmount of Product NeededAmount of Water Needed
1%0.32 oz31.68 oz
2%0.64 oz31.36 oz
5%1.6 oz30.4 oz
10%3.2 oz28.8 oz
20%6.4 oz25.6 oz
50%16 oz16 oz
To make 1 gallon of solution
Dilution RatioAmount of Product NeededAmount of Water Needed
1%1.3 oz131.9 oz
2%2.7 oz130.6 oz
5%6.7 oz126.6 oz
10%13.3 oz119.9 oz
20%26.7 oz106.6 oz
50%66.6 oz66.6 oz

How to Calculate Dilution Percentages

I’ll use an example to demonstrate.

  1. Work out how much total solution you want to make. For this example, I’ll say 500 mL of total solution.
  2. Find out the recommended dilution ratio for the product (this is usually on the back of the bottle). For this example, I’ll go with a 4% dilution.
  3. Divide 500 mL by 100 = 5 mL
  4. Multiply this number by the percentage required e.g. 5 mL x 4 = 20 mL. This is the amount of product needed.
  5. Calculate the amount of water needed by subtracting the amount of product needed from the total volume of solution required e.g. 500 mL – 20 mL = 480 mL
  6. So in order to make a 500 mL solution which has a 5% concentration of product, you will need 480 mL of water and 20 mL of product

Panel Impact Ratio

Panel impact ratio, more commonly referred to as “PIR” is sometimes used by manufacturers to indicate the required dilution ratio for snow foams or traffic film removers which are applied using a foam lance.

Panel impact ratio does not refer to the amount that you should put in your foam cannon, but the concentration that ends up actually touching the car.

The reason some manufacturers do this, is because the pressure washer dilutes the snow foam that you put in foam cannon when it is applied to the car. The amount it dilutes the solution by depends on the foam cannon and pressure washer you are using.

By factoring in this dilution, you can achieve a more accurate concentration of chemical that actually ends up on the car by removing the variable created by different pressure washer setups.

How to Calculate Panel Impact Ratio

  1. Fill your snow foam cannon with water. Make a note of this capacity.
  2. Turn your pressure washer on and dispense the cannon filled with water into a bucket.
  3. Measure how much water was dispensed in the bucket.
  4. Calculate the desired PIR by calculating the percentage of how much water was dispensed in step #3

Example

  1. The foam cannon has a maximum capacity of 1 litre.
  2. When dispensed, 10 litres (10,000 mL) of water was collected in the bucket.
  3. If you want say a 4% PIR, calculate 4% of 15 litres =((10,000/100) x4) = 400 mL
  4. This is the amount of snow foam you need to add to your foam cannon to achieve a 4% PIR. The rest (600 mL) can be topped up with water to fill the maximum 1 litre capacity.

If you’re struggling to work this out, then here’s a link to a Google Sheets calculator I’ve made so you can plug in the numbers and the formulas will work out how much water and snow foam you need to add to your cannon.

It works for both mL and oz, just make sure you use the same unit throughout.

PIR Calculator on Google Sheets

Looking for some good detailing products? Check out my recommended products page with all my favourite chemicals, equipment and accessories.

Heather

Heather

Heather is a professional car detailer & valeter based in Cheshire and the owner of Auto Care HQ. A familiar face in the car detailing community, she has written over 200 car detailing guides on autocarehq.com and has produced over 165 videos on the Auto Care HQ YouTube channel.

Articles: 220

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *