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NCH: What to consider when cleaning parts

30 January 2018

Whether it is daily, weekly or monthly, operators need to clean parts in all industries from industrial to commercial. Regardless of how often parts are cleaned, there are many factors to consider when choosing the right parts cleaning solution. Here, Richard Bastable, Global Parts Cleaning Platform Leader at global water, energy and maintenance solutions provider NCH Europe, explains how to choose the right way to clean parts.

In 1938, workers cleaning the outside of the Empire State Building had a daring job. As the roof of the building was not flat, they were not able to attach their ropes to the roof. Instead, they hooked their harnesses to eyebolts embedded inside the windows, very quickly coming to the realisation that cleaning is often a thankless but necessary task.

Fortunately, nowadays companies cleaning parts don’t have to hang from a 102–storey high building and there are much easier ways of cleaning available.

Before deciding how to clean parts, it is important to first establish what you are dealing with. Small parts with a minimal amount of dirt require a different approach to a large part with baked on grease and carbonised deposits. Not only should plant managers consider the actual part, but they should also consider a number of other factors that affect the ability to clean a part properly.

Working with what you’ve got

Larger organisations with a substantial workforce may not feel the burden of cleaning large quantities of parts manually, but for many smaller organisations cleaning tasks can quickly add up and not everyone has the resources to devote to manual cleaning.

Time is another factor. If it takes maintenance staff half an hour scrubbing off dirt and then leaving the part overnight to soak in a solution, before it is replaced, this requires a vastly different technique than a part that needs to be cleaned within a few minutes and then put back into the process or equipment.

The size and quantity of parts are also important to consider. Small parts are often light and small enough to fit into parts cleaning machines, whereas large parts are often too cumbersome to move into machines or too large to fit in them. This means it may be better to clean large parts manually, although it may take more time and require more manpower.

Automatic or manual

When cleaning parts, companies have to choose between cleaning by hand or cleaning using a fully self-contained parts cleaning machine. Cleaning machines have the benefit of being fully enclosed, making them safer to use for employees as they don’t require extensive personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent harmful chemicals coming into contact with skin or eyes.

Whether you choose a manual or automatic method NCH Europe offers both manual and automatic parts cleaning machines for different needs. The Torrent 500 machine is a fully enclosed manual machine. This machine directs a high-pressure jet of water based detergent towards the part. This is particularly useful for small parts, as it offers very high precision and can clean parts in under a minute. It is also effective for applications where engineers need to clean and replace parts, as the part can be simply dried off and put back into use.

Automatic machines, such as our ADS 200 E, function like industrial dishwashers. They use water-based cleaning solutions, which can clean larger, more difficult, parts that may be covered with baked-on grease. When choosing an automatic machine, companies should be mindful of the size and weight limit that the machine can hold. These also take longer to clean a part, around ten minutes, so they are not as useful for companies who require parts to be replaced immediately.

Solvent or water based

Facilities managers should also consider the solution used to clean parts. Traditionally, companies have used solvent-based parts washers, but these are now considered dangerous to the environment. They also pose risks to workers using them, who have to wear full PPE during the cleaning process. We now encourage companies to use water based parts cleaners as these are less harmful to the environment and the employees using them.


There are also many regulations that have to be considered when choosing a parts cleaning solution. All NCH Europe parts cleaning machines are CE approved, meaning that they comply with all of the essential requirements of the relevant European health, safety and environmental protection legislation. To protect the safety of their workers, facilities managers should look for parts cleaners with the same standards.

It is also necessary to consider your application. For example, in the food processing industry, cleaning solutions must be compliant with NSF regulations, to ensure that any leftover cleaner does not contaminate any of the products. If businesses are found to be in breach of these regulations, their products will be recalled and they could face fines.

After-sales service

Parts cleaning machines can be quite an investment for companies, so those with limited budgets should look for companies who offer rental services. It is also beneficial to choose a company that offers a full service and maintenance plan as these machines often require regular top ups. They should also offer to dispose of the waste generated by the machines, as this cannot be put straight back into a drainage system.

Parts cleaning is an essential process in industry and it’s now much easier than it was for the brave cleaners hanging from the Empire State Building in the 1930’s. By choosing the right parts cleaning machine and solution, business leaders can make cleaning simpler, safer and cheaper for the workforce.

For more information, please contact:

NCH Europe
NCH House
Springvale Avenue
West Midlands
WV14 0QL
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)1902 510254
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