What Are the Different Types of Parts Degreaser?

Lori Kilchermann

There are several types of parts degreasers, with each offering its own unique advantage and benefit while accomplishing a common task of removing grease from metal parts. Some of the most common and popular types of parts degreaser products are either environmentally-safe, ammonia-based and petroleum-based. Water-based or powder-type degreasers are also options. Foam and liquid parts degreaser products are often simplest type of cleaner to use and are commonly manufactured from one or more of the many types of degreasing formulas. Certain degreaser products work best when used warm, while some do not react well to heat.

Most degreasers available today are citrus-based.
Most degreasers available today are citrus-based.

Often, in an effort to reduce manufacturing steps, a parts degreaser will be used in conjunction with a rust-prohibitive chemical. This allows the parts to sit for a period of time between degreasing and tooling without incurring any damage. It also means they won't require further surface preparation before the machining process begins.

Some household cleaning products contain degreasers, particularly those designed to clean kitchen appliances.
Some household cleaning products contain degreasers, particularly those designed to clean kitchen appliances.

As the green movement began to gain popularity around the world and manufacturers begin to implement safer production methods, many are choosing to use an environmentally-safer parts degreaser when cleaning metal parts. Commonly containing natural ingredients such as citrus oils, vinegar and borax, these ingredients are often among some of the most successful degreasers and cleaners available anywhere. Water-based parts degreaser and cleaner chemicals are also becoming the preferred choice over older petroleum-based formulations.

Many manufacturers are choosing to use parts degreaser products that are low in volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. These help to eliminate breathing problems in those who use the product and reduce air pollution while retaining the grease cleaning abilities of the cleaners with much higher-volatile compounds. Ammonia-based cleaners are often used in conjunction with protective clothing and breathing apparatuses worn by the person doing the cleaning to prevent burns to the skin and damage to the lungs and mucus membranes of the respiratory system. Trisodium phosphate, or TSP, is a powder-type product that, when mixed with water, often creates a very effective cleaner and degreaser.

Petroleum-based compounds such as kerosene, ethanol and alcohol are usually very effective at cutting through grease and heavy sludge, such as that found on a dirty automobile engine. Often applied to a warm surface, this type of parts degreaser is easily hosed off with water or wiped clean with a towel. When rinsed off with water, the parts degreaser must be collected in an appropriate container and disposed of according to local ordinances.

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Trisodium phosphate can serve as a food additive (E339) and can also be found in daily consumer products such as toothpastes, dental cleansers, shampoos, cosmetics, and bleaching agents. As a nutritional supplement, TSP can also improve performance in sports players.

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