Cleaning Silicone Grease Residue Build Up in a Parts Washer

Silicon Oil

Q. Our parts washer uses a 2.5 hour cycle following a manual wash. A build up of silicone grease is observed. Our preference is to reduce manual cleaning. Is there a cleaning agent available that can remove silicone grease that would be compatible with a parts washer using water as the cleaning agent?

A. The key to removing silicone oils and lubricants in a washer is to use very high temperatures (over 77C  / 170F) with a double strength high emulsifying, low foaming cleaner such as Alcojet® Low Foaming Powdered Detergent (20 g/l or 2.5 oz/gal) or Solujet® Low-Foaming Phosphate-Free liquid detergent (20 ml/L or 2.5 oz/gal) in the parts washer wash cycle. It is very important to have the first rinse after the very hot wash cycle to be a very hot rinse cycle (similar temperature to wash).  Do not use a cold rinse or you may break the emulsions that form and risk redepositing the silicone oil or lubricant.

The heat ensures the softening point of the grease is reached. This greatly facilitates and bolsters the low-foaming surfactants necessary to have washer-safe detergents.  After the first rinse, you can use lower temperature second rinses.

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