Simple Green vs Zep: Get the Best Degreaser!

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When it comes to choosing a degreaser, two popular options on the market are Simple Green and Zep. Both claim to be effective at tackling tough stains and dirt. 

But, in a head-to-head comparison of Simple Green vs Zep, which one would prevail?

Simple Green would be an excellent choice for everyday use as it contains no harmful chemicals and is a great all-purpose cleaner. But Zep is the superior choice if you must deal with stubborn stains on a regular basis. The Zep Citrus degreaser also costs much less than the Simple Green. However, proper precautions must be taken using Zep as it contains some irritants.

This detailed comparison will look at how the two products compare in terms of performance, ingredients, and value.

Simple Green vs Zep Degreaser: Detailed Comparison

Simple Green and Zep are both popular cleaning brands that are widely used. While they are both effective at cleaning, there are differences between the two that may make one more suitable for a particular task than the other.

Comparing FactorsSimple GreenZep
Simple Green AllPurpose CleanerZEP ZUCIT32CA 32 Oz Degreaser Citrus Scent
Ingredients Water, C9-11 alcohols ethoxylated, Sodium citrate, Tetrasodium glutamate diacetate, Sodium carbonate, Citric acid, Fragrance, Liquitint colorant, PreservativeWater, 1-(1-Methyl-2-propoxyethoxy)propan-2-ol, Perfume, Limonene, Sodium alkylbenzene sulfonate, Oleic Acid, Alcohols C9-11 ethoxylated, Alanine, N,N-bis(carboxymethyl-), trisodium salt, Potassium Hydroxide
Application Method1:30 for easy stains, 1:10 for medium and 1:1 for heavy duty cleaningDirectly spray on the area to be cleaned. Then rinse with water after a couple of minutes.
Cleaning AbilityBetter suited for low to moderate cleaningBetter suited for industrial and commercial uses.
OdorSmells like lavender/lemonSmells like orange
ToxicityNot toxic, but some ingredients may irritate the skin or eyes.Some chemicals are not toxic, but some are classified as skin, eye, and respiratory irritants.
pH Level9.3-9.510.5-11
Value for Money$0.78/oz$0.59/oz

These brands are also similar to Meguiars and Mothers, which are two very popular car detailing chains. More similarities than differences exist between these brands. 


Simple Green and Zep degreasers both use detergent chemicals and surfactants that are excellent for cleaning automotive surfaces.

In the Simple Green degreaser, water acts as a solvent and is the base for the other ingredients. C9-11 alcohols ethoxylated functions as a surfactant that helps to break down and emulsify grease and oil. Sodium citrate and tetrasodium glutamate diacetate act as chelating agents that bind to metal ions and prevent them from interfering with the cleaning process. 

Additionally, sodium carbonate increases the alkalinity of the solution, which aids in removing greasy residues. Citric acid balances the alkalinity of the solution by acting as a mild acid, helping to remove mineral deposits and stains. 

The fragrance adds a pleasant scent to the cleaner, while liquid colorant makes it easier to differentiate from other solutions. The preservative helps to extend the shelf life of the cleaner, making it a practical and effective option for various cleaning needs.

Simple Green and Zep

Similarly, in the Zep Citrus degreaser, water is a key component of this formulation, acting as a solvent and a base for the other ingredients. The “1-(1-Methyl-2-propoxyethoxy)propan-2-ol” works as a solvent and a surfactant, which helps to dissolve oils and remove dirt and stains. Sodium alkylbenzene sulfonate, Alcohols C9-11 ethoxylated are also surfactants. 

Moreover, oleic Acid is a fatty acid that can help to disperse and remove oils and greases. Alanine is an amino acid that can function as a cleaning agent, while N,N-bis(carboxymethyl-), trisodium salt is a chelating agent that can help to remove mineral deposits and prevent staining. 

Perfume is added to enhance the scent of the cleaning solution. Limonene is a natural solvent derived from citrus fruits, which can dissolve oils and greases. 

Finally, potassium hydroxide is a strong alkaline compound that can help to neutralize acidic substances and break down oils and greases.

Winner: Tie

Application Method: 

Simple Green requires scrubbing with a sponge or cloth, contrary to Zep. With Zep degreaser, you can just rinse after applying the cleaning solution. Also, you’ll require fewer solutions if you use Zep.

To use Simple Green, you first need to mix in a 1:30 ratio with water. For harder stains, you can try a less diluted mixture like 1:10. For heavy-duty automobile stains, you can even use a 1:1 mixture. Once the mixture is prepared, you can use a sponge, cloth, or mitt to apply it to the surface. 

Depending on the surface and level of grime, you may need to scrub the surface to help remove dirt and stains. After applying the solution, you should rinse the surface with water to remove any remaining product and residue. 

On the other hand, to use Zep, you don’t have to dilute the solution. Spray the mixture onto the surface you want to clean and allow it to sit for a couple of minutes. This will give the solution time to break down any dirt and grime that may be present on the surface. After a few minutes, rinse the surface with water to remove any remaining solution and residue.

Using Zep is easier and requires less product than Simple Green. For a better shine, you can also use some other products after cleaning with them.

Winner: Zep

Zep Degreaser

Cleaning Ability:

Simple Green is a versatile cleaner that is suitable for light to moderate car cleaning, while Zep is a heavy-duty cleaner that is better suited for cars that have been subjected to heavy use.

Moreover, Simple Green is a multi-purpose cleaner that can be used on a variety of surfaces, including cars’. It is known for its ability to remove dirt, grime, and stains effectively. It works on most types of stains and all types of car surfaces.

Zep, on the other hand, is a heavy-duty cleaner that is specifically designed for industrial and commercial use. It is formulated to cut through tough grease, oil, and dirt, making it an effective cleaner for cars that have been subjected to heavy use.

Winner: Tie


Simple Green has a sweet and pleasant smell as it is derived from natural ingredients. It has a note of lavender and lime, which is really nice. Zep smells like citrus or orange, as it contains such perfumes. 

Simple Green contains several surfactants which are odorless. So, to make it smell nice to its users, the extra fragrance is added to make it smell like lavender and lemon. 

On the other hand, Zep Citrus has an orange smell and Limonene has a fresh, citrusy odor, similar to the scent of lemon or orange. Also, similar perfumes are added to the formulation to enhance the scent of the cleaning solution. Additionally, Potassium Hydroxide has a strong, acrid odor similar to ammonia or lye. 

So, if you need to clean specific smells, like cleaning the bleach smell from your car, you can use Simple Green or Zep degreaser.

Winner: Tie


None of the ingredients used in these two cleaning products are toxic. However, some of the chemicals used in Zep can be irritating to the skin, eyes, or respiratory system.

Most of the ingredients in Simple Green are commonly found in cleaning products and are generally considered safe when used as directed. Some of the ingredients may cause skin or eye irritation in some individuals. 

The chemicals in Zep, like Sodium alkylbenzene sulfonate and potassium hydroxide, are classified as skin and eye irritants and may be harmful if ingested or inhaled in large amounts.

Limonene is generally considered to be safe, but it can cause skin and eye irritation in some individuals. Additionally, when exposed to air, it can react with other chemicals to produce harmful substances such as formaldehyde. 

More importantly, 1-(1-Methyl-2-propoxyethoxy)propan-2-ol, can be harmful if ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin. It may cause skin and eye irritation, and prolonged exposure can cause damage to the liver and kidneys. 

Winner: Simple Green

pH Level:

The pH level of Simple Green is around 9.3-9.5, and the pH level of Zep is around 10.5-11.

Slightly acidic and slightly alkaline car washes both have their pros. Alkaline car washes are excellent for cleaning organic materials (bugs, bird droppings, oils, greases, etc.) and neutralizing any acid on the vehicle’s surface.

In contrast, slightly acidic cleaning solutions help remove granular and inorganic road film. The acidic properties make it effective at removing these tiny clay particles when the soil contains a lot of minerals. 

Winner: Tie


The cost per ounce for Simple Green is 0.78 dollars, and the cost per ounce for Zep is 0.59 dollars. Zep costs slightly less than Simple Green, but in the long run, the cost may add up to a large amount. 

If we consider value for money, the effectiveness of both these products is basically the same. The only difference is that Zep can be used for industrial and commercial purposes.

Winner: Zep

Simple Green vs Zep: Final Verdict

Now that we have considered all the factors, we must pick one that’s better than the other.

All things considered, Simple Green is the better choice; great for everyday use and doesn’t contain any toxic materials. 

But, if you own a car wash and have to deal with heavier stains on a regular basis, you can opt for Zep. It is cheaper than the Simple Green degreaser and easy to use.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Is Zep a good brand?

Yes, Zep is a well-established brand that has been around for over 80 years, offering a wide range of cleaning and maintenance solutions for various industries and applications. Many people have had positive experiences with Zep products, citing their effectiveness in tackling tough stains and dirt. 

What are some simple green alternatives?

The alternatives to Simple Green are Mr. Clean, Soft Scrub, Clorox, Fabuloso etc. These are some cleaning products that are eco-friendly and have a similar scent to Simple Green.

What is the strongest Simple Green?

Simple Green Pro HD is arguably the strongest Simple Green product. This product is usually used to clean heavy dirt from machines and auto parts.


Comparing Simple Green vs Zep degreaser is really tough. Both are effective cleaners that can get the job done. 

Simple Green’s eco-friendly ingredients and versatile uses make it a great choice for those who prioritize sustainability. 

Zep, on the other hand, may be better for heavy-duty cleaning tasks and offers a wider range of specialized cleaning products. 

Ultimately, the choice between these two products depends on your individual cleaning needs and preferences.

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I am a professional automotive and car mechanic. I have been in the industry for 15+ years. At the moment I have 3 garages. Every day dozens of cars come to our repair shops that are damaged in a very short period of time. The main reason for this is not taking a proper care of the car.

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