Which is Better, Solvent or Aqueous Cleaning?

Cleaning the Hard to Clean

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.

ChemistryProsCons
Non–halogenated Solvents –Hydrocarbons​
Relatively low cost​
Readily available
Good for pre-cleaning
Good for non-polar soils
Vacuum degreasers only
Combustible
Less cleaning efficiency
Leaves oily residue
Fluorinated Solvent Blends​
Very stable azeotrope
Non-flammable
Low surface tension for precision cleaning​
High fill cost
Not as effective on heavy soils
Requires additional cooling coils
Modified AlcoholsNo pending regulations​
Low operating costs
Effective on water and oil-based soils
High equipment costs (vacuum degreasers)​
Combustible
Moderate fill costs
Requires stabilization
Aqueous CleaningGood cleaning capabilities – soils, oils, waxes​
Low chemical costs
Ability to recycle the chemistry
High energy costs
Larger footprint
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.

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