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What cleaning solution?

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Bob Wild02/10/2020 23:46:38
86 forum posts
63 photos

Many years ago when I worked in an engineering company, components were cleaned in a trichloroethane bath. This is now banned, so I wondered if anyone could suggest the acceptable alternative for washing out swarf and grinding paste?


Steviegtr03/10/2020 00:25:33
2435 forum posts
336 photos

When i contracted to Nestle foods they used trico every Saturday morning to clean there machines down. Each woman was given a 1 gallon steel can of the stuff & they went to work. They were all happy as they were getting time & a half wages. Then it was discovered to be carsonegenic & banned.

They then were given a substance called Solo. It was blue in colour & pretty rubbish but that is what they had to use.

Not sure who made it but it slowly did the job.


Bill Pudney03/10/2020 01:36:16
611 forum posts
24 photos

Bearing in mind that most of the stuff I make is small...model aeroplane engines etc.... I use brake cleaner, or shellite. Brake cleaner is more aggressive and can damage some plastics so be careful!!



Speedy Builder503/10/2020 07:11:39
2613 forum posts
212 photos

I use acetone for a deep clean, easily available off the shelf over here and not expensive, not sure about the UK though! spray "Gun wash" is pretty good stuff and cheap. Neither product do much for your hands - wear disposable gloves.

Henry Brown03/10/2020 08:14:58
552 forum posts
117 photos

I recently discovered a solvent that is used for cleaning the expanding foam guns after fitting a new window in the workshop, I had borrowed a professional set up for applying the foam. It came with the gun and I tried it on various bits and bobs and it was brilliant, especially for degreasing, but don't use it on paint and be careful with getting it on your hands. I get mine from Toolstation.

JA03/10/2020 08:19:00
1359 forum posts
80 photos

The best I have found over the last few years is Ambersil spray. It is sold by RS.


not done it yet03/10/2020 08:39:09
6812 forum posts
20 photos

Small component parts are dunked in an ultrasonic bath, usually with washing up liquid as the surfactant. Large components are not a particular problem with swarf.

Grinding paste is not (or should not be) a usual regular problem with a lathe or mill. If it is, it is an operator problem that needs addressing.

Do remember that contaminants can still be left on the surface, after removal of grease/oil by the solvents.

Not a recommendation, as there are likely better ones, but THIS LINK is the usual type of safe parts washer concentrate, in widespread use these days. Do check on your search engine for details.

SillyOldDuffer03/10/2020 09:15:08
8693 forum posts
1967 photos

Assuming we're talking ordinary workshop, Paraffin, Petrol, White Spirit, & Acetone will all do the job, though not necessarily on their own.

Although it's an excellent solvent I avoid petrol because it's a serious fire-hazard and I don't like the fumes.

Paraffin is safer than petrol but takes longer to dissolve oils and leaves a greasy layer. I use White Paraffin as sold for Greenhouse Heaters as a cheap first wash; dirty work is dunked, swirled and brushed to remove loose bits and most oily residue. For smaller objects, I prefer White Spirit for the same job. (Slightly better solvent and less of a greasy layer.)

The greasy layer may be useful as a mild anti-corrosion measure, but it makes the metal slippery and is ruin to paintwork. It's removed with Acetone. The real McCoy can be bought online, but I buy supermarket Nail Varnish Remover, plainer and stronger the better. Nail Varnish Remover is Acetone diluted with up to 20% water and ladies like it pink and perfumed. As a workshop solvent the cheap plain strong version is great, but the ordinary kind works well too. Also SWMBO bonus points for having a workshop that doesn't smell of Lorry Driver's Tee-shirt.

Don't dismiss hot water and detergent. The main problem is drying off which takes ages and is liable to cause rust. I deal with drying by removing most of the water with an old towel or whatever before sluicing or dunking in Meths. Meths removes most of the water and evaporates quickly.

I had high-hopes of Gunk, but it's over the top and too much trouble for small not very dirty items.

Trike was excellent in that it combined the virtues of White Spirit, Acetone and Meths in a single chemical. Unfortunately, every silver lining has a cloud, and Trike had to go.


Edited By SillyOldDuffer on 03/10/2020 09:16:15

Clive Hartland03/10/2020 09:30:37
2820 forum posts
40 photos

After using Freon and Inhibited Chlorothene for many tears we had to find an alternative, this was white spirits which was then washed off with hot water and then thenitems placed in a specially made hot cabinet to dry. Items became just hand hot and could be then blown out with and air line.

The iems cleaned were Theodolites completely stripped and other component parts of optical innstruments.

Steve Neighbour03/10/2020 09:44:04
116 forum posts
1 photos

For small components I use an aerosol brake/clutch cleaner, seems to work really well and leaves no residue.

Readily available from the likes of toolstation etc

john halfpenny03/10/2020 09:56:48
236 forum posts
24 photos

Get a gallon of brake cleaner and a pump spray bottle. Despite its name, it is a great cleaner and degreaser, used by most commercial garages, and relatively benign.

Perko703/10/2020 09:57:05
425 forum posts
33 photos

Bicycle mechanics used a variety of cleaners which are designed to get rid of road grime, oily residue etc without damaging paint or plastic components. Nut sure what brand/product names but a chat to them might prove useful.

Nicholas Wheeler 103/10/2020 09:57:08
930 forum posts
87 photos
Posted by Steve Neighbour on 03/10/2020 09:44:04:

For small components I use an aerosol brake/clutch cleaner, seems to work really well and leaves no residue.

Readily available from the likes of toolstation etc

That's what I do. About £3 a can from Eurocarparts.

Bigger, or really dirty parts get cleaned with standard cellulose thinners as it's a lot cheaper. And it's mainly the acetone previously suggested.

Douglas Johnston03/10/2020 10:54:39
767 forum posts
34 photos

Lidl in the UK sell 1 litre tins of universal solvent at a cheap price. I think it is mainly acetone and probably makes a good solvent for hammerite paint since branded hammerite thinners cost an arm and a leg.


Oily Rag03/10/2020 16:39:15
540 forum posts
184 photos

+1 for brake cleaner and a 'pump' spray bottle. A 5 litre tin will last the average 'dobi wallah' a long time. For serious degreasing - and here I am talking of removal of petrol varnish off carburettors and de-coking cylinder heads and pistons I use Dichloromethane, and yes it is banned but is still available to 'professional' users (i.e it is only supplied to a registered company not private individuals)

Likewise I still use creosote on my railway sleepers and pergola (erected out of salvaged oak barn beams) in my garden. It gets a coat every 2 years and has lasted for 20 years with no sign of deterioration. Again Creosote is banned for the use and storage by private individuals since the Pesticides Act of 2005, but is still available for farmers. The creosote I have came from the local gasworks (which closed down years ago) but I found someone who had a 40 gallon drum of it and had been quoted £50 to have it removed by a licenced waste disposal outfit. I told him I could do the same for free!

DollyDigger03/10/2020 16:51:00
51 forum posts
7 photos

Not sure where you are in the country bob, but if near Hexham i have a massive ultrasonic bath at my disposal but its more of the detergent i was thinking i could let you have some of if it helped.


norman valentine03/10/2020 16:55:44
280 forum posts
40 photos

Cigarette lighter fluid is good and does not leave a residue.

Ian Johnson 103/10/2020 19:14:34
370 forum posts
102 photos

What do dry cleaning companies use these days? They used Perklone (ICI tradename) a solvent which is banned.

I use acetone, brake cleaner, cellulose thinners, all work quite well but not as good as the banned stuff


Neil A03/10/2020 22:56:53
107 forum posts

I well remember the "trich" tank from when I was an apprentice at work, it was a very large affair, about 8 foot x 4 foot x 4 foot deep, so large components could be lowered in with the crane. The actual liquid was below a perforated bottom plate and was heated, you could see the vapour swirling in the tank. There were cooling coils around the top of the tank to keep the vapour in, although when a part was lowered in some of the vapour would come out and that was not very nice. It was interesting to see the vapour condense on the part and the oil and grease just wash off. The tank also had a nozzle that could be used to flush the part with liquid if needed. I can't remember the name of the stuff that replaced it, but it was never as effective.

Other cleaning at work was done it what was referred to as a paraffin tank, but I saw it being cleaned out one day and it was refilled from a 45 gallon drum of white spirit.

At home, I use either white spirit, brake cleaner, isopropyl alcohol or soapy water in an ultrasonic cleaner. It depends on how clean I need the parts to be. For grinding paste I think the first two would be my choice.


Shadow04/10/2020 01:49:48
21 forum posts
1 photos

I have had success with Greased Lightning household cleaner. It can also go down the drain. It is safe for plastic and glass but heed the warning about use on aluminum. In normal cleaning on aluminum it is fine but do not put the object in jar as it will eat away the material, that being useful to strip anodizing from a surface with careful use.

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