During our April 2014 performance test of rubbing compounds, we sullied a dozen brand-new wool buffing pads, all of which were Shurhold brand. Since quality buffing pads are reusable (and not cheap), we thought the rubbing compound test was a great opportunity to also check out Shurholds new, professional-grade Serious Pad Cleaner (No. 30803). Mixed with water, this powdered concentrate is formulated to dissolve compounds and waxes from wool, polyester, cotton, microfiber, and foam buffing pads or cloths.
To test the cleaner, we followed maker instructions: Simply mix 1 tablespoon of Serious Pad Cleaner powder in a gallon of warm water; let the pads/cloths soak in the solution for 15 minutes; agitate the water and squeeze the pads/cloths a few times; rinse with fresh water. Testers found it helped to rinse with a high-pressure garden hose. The citrus-based powder is marketed as an environmentally friendly, biodegradable cleaner, but makers do recommend wearing rubber gloves during use. The mixed solution, which can be used for up to a week, can also be used to clean dock lines and microfiber or cotton bonnets.
Using the cleaner at home was certainly much easier than our usual pad-cleaning ritual, which entails hauling the lot (along with used boat rags) down to the local laundromat and washing them in quarter-eating washing machines.
The degree to which the pads came clean using the Shurhold powder depended on the chemical makeup of the rubbing compound that was used with the pad. The pads used with oily compounds and those that removed more oxidized blue gelcoat were more difficult to get clean. But in general, it did a good job of dissolving the compound from the wool.
Bottom line: The Serious Pad Cleaner costs about $14 for 12 ounces, which is enough to clean 10 to 12 batches of pads/cloths-thats roughly $1.17 per batch. If you plan to reuse your buffing pads for years to come, and will be laundering them at home or on the boat, the cleaner is worth investing in.