Part 6 of our Auto Shop Equipment Essentials list is spotlighting Parts Washers. No shop can do without at least some type of Parts Cleaner. There are constant questions customers have when it comes to parts cleaners. The most common is – What type should I get?
The answer to that question requires some follow up questions from the person selling you the parts washer. A good sales person will attempt to better determine your application to fit you with the best choice for your situation. They won’t just try and sell you what they have in stock or the most expensive machine they can.
What kind of parts are you cleaning? How frequently are you cleaning parts? How big are the parts? Are the parts manufactured out of plastic, or do they have a painted surface? Is there any component that might not be compatible with certain solvents? What kind of dirt are you attempting to remove from the parts? Is it grease and oil, or some other type of dirt? Do you want a water based (Aqueous) Parts Washer or a solvent based parts washer?
That last question is one of the most important ones. Solvent parts washers have traditionally been the type found in most auto shops. But as disposal of waste detergent becomes more difficult and expensive, water based parts washers have rapidly grown in popularity. They require a larger up-front cost, but will eventually save you lots of money on detergent. Water based detergents come as a concentrate, and typically you would mix it 1 to 6 with water. The knock against water based detergents is that they don’t clean as well as solvent (hydrocarbon) based detergents. But with some of the better modern water based detergents, as long as it is the proper concentrate, and as long as your parts washer has a heater, you should be able to clean as effectively as solvent.
What type of parts washer should you get? A drum mount model, sink basin style, or top loading agitated models are all available. If you need to clean larger parts, with tough baked on grime, a spray wash cabinet may be in order. A Spray Wash Cabinet will do all the work for you so you don’t have to scrub away at the parts.
What ever type you get, don’t try to take the cheap way out. Inferior pumps and inferior finishes that leave you with chipping paint will leave you wishing you spent a few extra bucks for a quality machine.