The Disadvantages Of Using Petroleum Cleaning Solvents

When it comes to parts washing, many industries are required to meet strict cleaning criteria. To achieve this, they seek the most cost-effective and efficient cleaning system to meet their needs.

For years, many have used petroleum solvent cleaners as the solution. However, many businesses have realized that petroleum solvents have more issues than they do value and are making the switch to aqueous parts washers instead. Here is a look at what petroleum solvents are and why many are making the switch.

What Are Petroleum Solvents?

Simply put, petroleum solvents clean parts by dissolving residues. They contain mineral spirits, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other chlorinated solvents like trichloroethane, trichloroethylene, benzene, and xylenes. These are used for parts cleaning because they quickly dissolve oil, grease, grime, and burnt-on carbon. Although these solvents are very effective, they continue to raise significant environmental, health and economic concerns. 

What Are The Problems Associated With Using Petroleum Solvents?

Manufacturing industries are increasingly becoming more aware of the many health, safety and environmental hazards that are the result of using petroleum solvents in the parts washing process. The following are some of the dangers you should be aware of:

  • Petroleum solvents can be costly and potentially toxic making it an effective solvent for cleaning, but dangerous and expensive to dispose of.
  • The startup costs for petroleum solvent systems are significantly less than other cleaning solutions. However, these solvents don’t always effectively clean the first time, requiring the parts to be cleaned again using more of the solution to do so. 
  • The chemicals in petroleum solvents are toxic enough to increase the risk of cancer for the people who operate the system. Employers can try and control the exposure, but petroleum solvents evaporate quickly making the process difficult.
  • Petroleum solvents are also highly flammable, which is a major safety concern for many industries. 

What Is The Most Effective Alternative?

Considering the issues associated with petroleum solvents, what is the most effective parts cleaning solution? 

Aqueous parts washers.

Aqueous solutions are water-based cleaners that, unlike petroleum-based solvents, are typically nonflammable and contain little or no VOCs. Instead of dissolving grease and solids, aqueous cleaners rely on heat, agitation, high-pressure spray and soap (also called chemistry) to remove residues. Although they clean differently, aqueous parts washers perform just as well as solvent systems.

Many businesses have switched to aqueous cleaning solutions because they provide a safer work environment and the disposal process is simpler and less hazardous than petroleum solvents.

Aqueous systems have a higher startup cost but save money overall with an easy cleaning and disposal process. Aqueous parts washers are also safer to operate and environmentally friendly.

Jenfab Cleaning Solutions

Since 1960, Jenfab has developed innovative technology for aqueous cleaning solutions. With a versatile product selection, Jenfab offers the precision cleaning solutions you need to get started on a safer and more cost-effective parts cleaning path.

Wondering how these systems work? See for yourself by visiting our Vimeo channel.

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