We often talk about degreasing in the workplace, but what exactly is degreasing?

Degreasing has gradually become the go-to term for almost any form of component cleaning. However, the two major degreasing applications remain:

  1. The removal of oils and greases which have built up during the manufacturing process. To prepare the component for surface finishing and final inspection.
  2. The removal of oils and greases which have built up on an appliance in the course of its service. Often undertaken as part of a preventive maintenance program.

How is degreasing done?

Generally, by chemical cleaning. There are two main categories of chemical cleaner; aqueous degreaser, and non-aqueous degreaser (solvent). There is a less-used third category, semi-aqueous cleaner…more of that later.

What is an aqueous degreaser?

Water-based. The purest form of aqueous cleaning is steam cleaning which works well, is cost-effective and eco-friendly, but often not practical.
Aqueous cleaners form a weak chemical bond with the contaminant, but are strong enough to drag it off with a rinse. The contaminant retains its integrity and can be decoupled from the cleaner in an effluent treatment system, and disposed of responsibly.
Performance can be boosted by adding alkalinity or acidity, depending on substrate. Or heat, ultrasonics and agitation as appropriate.
Non-flammable. Non-combustible. Safe when used as directed. Very broad spectrum. Water extendable so practical for larger areas. But can have corrosion issues.


What are semi-aqueous degreasers?

A much smaller sub-group. A solvent with some aqueous coupling. Semi-aqueous degreasers are generally weaker light duty applications. An example is industrial alcohol.


What are non-aqueous degreasers?

Solvents. Solvents generally dissolve or break down oils and greases which are then wiped off. Non-aqueous degreasers can be powerful, fast and effective. Excellent for targeted efficient degreasing. Corrosion free. A narrower spectrum. However, sometimes there are flammability considerations and other usage restrictions in non-aqueous degreasing. Will not mix with water – often an advantage.

So, which degreaser is the best one for me?

If possible, choose an aqueous degreaser if the application allows.
For a targeted, more efficient application, a solvent may be necessary, which means a non-aqueous cleaner should be selected.

Talk to Eco-Point Laboratories now for help and guidance, and choose from our comprehensive range of safer aqueous cleaners and non-aqueous cleaners.