Which is Better, Solvent or Aqueous Cleaning?
The answer? It depends! Surface cleaning of metal components is dependent on numerous factors.
- The type and composition of the contaminant
- The complexity of the part to be cleaned
- The type of metal
- How clean is clean?
- Available footprint within the shop operation
- Parts throughput
- Energy costs
- Waste treatment availability (in house or haul off)
At a high level, here is a chart that describes the pros and cons of the most used types of cleaning chemistries.
|Non–halogenated Solvents –Hydrocarbons||Relatively low cost|
Good for pre-cleaning
Good for non-polar soils
|Vacuum degreasers only
Less cleaning efficiency
Leaves oily residue
|Fluorinated Solvent Blends||Very stable azeotrope|
Low surface tension for precision cleaning
|High fill cost
Not as effective on heavy soils
Requires additional cooling coils
|Modified Alcohols||No pending regulations|
Low operating costs
Effective on water and oil-based soils
|High equipment costs (vacuum degreasers)
Moderate fill costs
|Aqueous Cleaning||Good cleaning capabilities – soils, oils, waxes|
Low chemical costs
Ability to recycle the chemistry
|High energy costs
Requires wastewater treatment or haul-off
It takes a lot of expertise to select the right cleaner. Therefore, companies like Hubbard-Hall ask for documentation on the type of contaminants to be cleaned off, samples of parts to trial, in-depth discussions on cleanliness requirements, current throughput, future projections…there is a lot of work involved in getting you the right cleaner for the process.