Parts cleaning has advanced, offering optimal precision cleaning with aqueous solutions for an effective and safer clean. Aqueous solutions are water based cleaners that, unlike petroleum based solvents, are typically nonflammable and contain little or no VOCs. Rather than dissolving grease and solids, aqueous cleaners rely on heat, agitation, and soap action to breakdown dirt. Although these parts cleaners wash differently, aqueous solutions perform as well as solvents while also providing a safer work environment. Several businesses have switched to aqueous cleaning solutions because it provides a safer work environment and the disposal process is simpler and less hazardous than other solvents and mineral spirits. Check out this post to learn more about aqueous cleaners and common questions people ask about water cleaning systems. 

Managing Aqueous Cleaning Waste

Water based cleaners are less toxic and safer than petroleum solvents but that doesn’t mean you do not need to properly manage the disposal process. According to PPRC, the following tips will help you better manage your waste disposal:

  • Onsite Septic Tanks: No type of industrial waste may ever be disposed into onsite septic systems. This may contaminate your septic tank or drain field, which may result in a costly system failure.
  • Oil/Water Separators: Since parts washers emulsify oils and greases, disposal of aqueous solution into an oil/water separator is not effective. When emulsified, oils are not separated and will simply pass through the system.
  • Municipal Sewer System: In some cases, aqueous solutions may disposed into the municipal sewer system. However, special permission is required from the sewer utility, who may also require laboratory testing of the waste. Always contact your municipal wastewater utility before utilizing this disposal method.
  • Evaporation of Aqueous Solutions: Since most aqueous solutions do not contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) , they may be evaporated, leaving only a smaller amount of sludge for disposal. Some parts washers may contain special evaporator units for this specific purpose. (Note: It is unlawful to evaporate petroleum solvents for disposal purposes).
  • Disposal by Hazardous Waste Vendor: Utilizing a waste disposal vendor is the preferred method for managing aqueous solutions. Since aqueous solutions are less toxic than petroleum solvents, disposal costs are generally less. Studies have shown that large waste vendors typically charge approximately 1/3 less for aqueous solutions. Furthermore, utilizing a licensed vendor reduces your liability and ensures that the waste is properly disposed.
  • Disposal of Aqueous Sludge: Tests have shown that aqueous sludge typically contains toxic heavy metals and solvents and therefore, should not be disposed into the normal trash. It is recommended that all sludge be managed as hazardous waste.

Common Questions About Aqueous Cleaners 

Why do aqueous cleaners create a safer work environment? Aqueous cleaning systems are water based cleaners that are nonflammable and nonhazardous with minimal to no volatile organic compounds. They also minimize the risks and liability of toxic waste disposal, which in turn, reduces the risk of worker accidents while trying to dispose the chemicals. 

What System Will Work Best For My Facility? First and foremost, do a little research about the different aqueous cleaning systems available and see what type will benefit you most. Here are some of the following washers to check out: conveyor washers, rotary basket washers, monorail parts washers, rotary drum washers, vertical chain conveyors and vertical agitation washers. 

Are Aqueous Cleaners Cost-Effective? The initial start up cost can be more expensive for aqueous cleaners but businesses can save money with reduced labor costs with increased productivity. Most machines are automatic so workers can focus on other tasks while the parts are being washed and dried. Reducing these labor costs will save more money in the long run while also maintaining a safe environment for workers. Also aqueous cleaning systems can also save money by providing clean and dry parts to the next process, eliminating component rejects and quality issues.