How To Remove Grease From Machinery?

by Chris Lewis.

Grease and oil are the leading causes of rust and malfunction in machinery, regardless of whether we’re talking about new machines or old used ones.

Since oiling is one of the most crucial elements of the maintenance process, you can’t really avoid your machines getting greasy, so you’ll have to find efficient ways to deal with this pesky issue.

Luckily for you, there are several ways you can approach the grease-removal process, and it’s up to you to determine how much you’re willing to spend on special cleaning tools, whether you want to hire specialist personnel for the job or do it your own. Without any further ado, let’s dive into the ways you can remove grease from your machinery.

Small and Heavy Machinery

Small and Heavy Machinery
Small and Heavy Machinery

First and foremost, it’s important to differentiate heavy machinery from lighter, smaller models. For heavy machinery pieces you’ll need a towing device whenever it’s supposed to be moved (whether you’re moving it to the designated cleaning location or outside of the objects) whereas smaller pieces can be transported manually.

The category of ‘small machinery’ includes portable contraptions and equipment such as:

  1. Gears or gear trains
  2. Linkages
  3. Portable power sources and generators
  4. Individual parts
  5. Other compact machinery

The category of ‘heavy machinery’ refers to stationary constructs, machines, contraptions, and devices that are substantially bigger and heavier than small machinery models, such as:

  1. Bulldozers
  2. Heavy-duty shears
  3. Excavators
  4. Grapples
  5. Hydraulic contraptions
  6. Pile divers
  7. PTOs

The process of cleaning small machinery pieces is much different (and dramatically easier) than cleaning heavy machinery, which is the main reason why it’s important to understand the difference between the aforementioned categories.

Degreasing Small Machinery Pieces With Basic Cleaning Tools

Degreasing Small Machinery Pieces With Basic Cleaning Tools
Degreasing Small Machinery Pieces With Basic Cleaning Tools

Due to the fact that small machinery pieces are not overwhelmingly heavy, you’ll be able to move them from their initial post to a pre-designated cleaning area.

Depending on how often you’ve been cleaning your machinery, you should expect small grease stains (if cleaning processes were frequent) or large chunks of oily debris (if you weren’t cleaning the machinery pieces too often).

Big chunks of oily debris should be removed by hand, with which we recommend using industrial gloves; in more severe cases you may need to use basic tools, such as a spade for example if debris is too sturdy.

Hot water will help you with fresh grease stains, but you’ll need special grease cleaning products to get rid of the grease that has been building up over the course of months. Scrub the solution thoroughly and apply hot water again.

After performing the first take, apply cleaning detergent and let it stay on the surface for about half an hour before rinsing again. This should dislodge even the most persistent grease stains from smaller machinery.

Alternatively, you can opt for using steam cleaners or power washers, even though they’re more suitable for cleaning heavy machinery.

Note that a number of small machinery pieces need to be hand-scrubbed and manually cleaned due to their delicate design; wired contraptions and models that feature breakable or melt-able parts will be destroyed if you use too much pressure (steam or water).

Benefits:

  • Minimal costs and expenses (detergents are fairly cheap)
  • Preliminary stage for further maintenance
  • Allows you to spot damages and other irregularities on machines
  • Only viable option for delicate and fragile machinery pieces

Disadvantages:

  • Time-consuming process
  • Not suitable for heavy machinery degreasing

Degreasing Heavy Machinery with Water Pressure

Spraying hot water and applying detergents may remove oil and grease build-ups on smaller machinery, but due to the fact that more oil is used to grease up heavy-duty machines during the maintenance process, you’ll need a bit more ‘power’ to clean them.

That’s why you can use water pressure cleaners (power washers) to degrease and thoroughly clean your heavy machines.

Power washers are, essentially, meant for finishing touches, although stronger models are suitable to get the job done from start to finish.

Light-duty power washers can be used to take care of the finer details where steam cleaners may have failed while heavy-duty power washers are able to completely degrease even the greasiest machines.

Obviously enough, having both light and heavy-duty power washers in stock is costly, but it’s necessary if you wish to thoroughly clean both small machines and heavy-machinery.

As mentioned before, using heavy-duty power washers on small machinery may result in breaking certain bits and pieces while using light-duty models on heavy machinery may not be sufficient.

Benefits:

  • Cheaper than using steam pressure degreasers
  • Light-duty water washers can be used to clean small machinery
  • Power washers are mobile and perfectly suited for stationary machines

Disadvantages:

  • Not as reliable as using steam pressure
  • Requires precision and accuracy (trained personnel)

Degreasing Heavy Machinery with Steam Pressure

While it is possible to clean heavy machinery with cleaning detergents and solutions, the process will take up substantially more time; additionally, most commercial cleaning solutions, and even a good portion of industrial-grade cleaners aren’t strong enough to complete the process from start to finish.

Moreover, heavy machinery pieces are stationary, which means that you’ll need to set up elevated platforms to get to every hard-to-reach area individually if you aim to hand-scrub and clean.

This obviously means that you should probably take an alternative approach – using steam. You can either opt for buying an industrial steam cleaner or hiring a team of specialists to clean your machines; the first option is financially better, especially long-term.

Using the steam machine to evaporate grease is substantially easier than using water as you won’t need to be as precise. The extremely-hot temperatures will make short work of even the most persistent grease build-ups in mere minutes.

While steam cleaners are generally a bit more expensive than water pressure cleaners, they will also disinfect your machinery pieces; this makes them an excellent choice for pretty much any line of work, especially food industry.

Benefits:

  • Environmentally-friendly approach
  • Significantly easier to use than any other type of degreasing tools
  • Cleans and disinfects machines

Disadvantages:

  • Steam pressure degreasers are fairly expensive

Conclusion

Essentially, you can remove grease from machinery manually, by using steam-pressure or by using water-pressure. Obviously, you can combine all three approaches for a job well done if you can afford all the aforementioned tools.

Ideally, you should take stock of your machines and determine how many detergents you need for smaller machines and how many steam/water pressure washers you need for larger machines.

It may seem to you that hiring specialists is cheaper, but having your own cleaning and degreasing equipment is certainly better moneywise by the long run.

About Chris Lewis.

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