Degreasing: Your Complete Guide to Cleaning Processes & More

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  June 12, 2022
I love creating free content full of tips for my readers, you. I don't accept paid sponsorships, my opinion is my own, but if you find my recommendations helpful and you end up buying something you like through one of my links, I could earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more

What is degreasing? It’s a cleaning process that involves removing grease, oil, and other contaminants from a surface using a solvent. It’s a vital step in many manufacturing and industrial processes.

In this article, I’ll explain how it works and why it’s important.

What is degreasing

Get Rid of Grease and Oil with Degreasing

Degreasing is the process of removing grease, oil, soils, and other contaminants from surfaces. It is an essential step in many industries, including electronic, metal fabrication, stamping, motor, airplane, automotive, and more. The process of degreasing involves the use of a degreaser or cleaner, which is a solvent-based solution that dissolves grease and oil from surfaces.

How Does Degreasing Work?

Degreasing works by using solvents to dissolve grease and oil from surfaces. There are several methods of degreasing, including wiping, scrubbing, aerosol sprays, and immersion in a batch process. The solvent used in degreasing can be petroleum-based, chlorine-based, dry ice-based, or alcohol-based, depending on the type of grease or oil being removed.

What Parts Can Benefit from Degreasing?

Degreasing can benefit a wide range of parts, including:

  • Carburetors
  • Brakes
  • Motors
  • Airplane components
  • Automotive components

What Are the Benefits of Using a Degreaser?

Using a degreaser has several benefits, including:

  • Efficient removal of grease and oil
  • Reduced contamination and corrosion
  • Improved equipment performance and efficiency
  • Increased lifespan of parts and equipment

What Types of Degreasers Are Available?

There are several types of degreasers available, including:

  • Solvent-based degreasers
  • Water-based degreasers
  • Biodegradable degreasers

Solvent-based degreasers are the most common and effective type of degreaser. They can penetrate and dissolve grease and oil quickly and efficiently. Water-based degreasers are a good alternative for those who prefer a more environmentally friendly option. Biodegradable degreasers are also available for those who want to minimize their impact on the environment.

How Do I Choose the Right Degreaser?

When choosing a degreaser, consider the following factors:

  • Type of grease or oil being removed
  • Type of surface being cleaned
  • Environmental concerns
  • Safety concerns

It’s important to choose a degreaser that is appropriate for the type of grease or oil being removed and the surface being cleaned. It’s also important to consider environmental and safety concerns when choosing a degreaser.

The Best Cleaning Processes to Consider for Degreasing

When it comes to degreasing, there are a number of cleaning processes to consider. The most common and widely available methods are standard cleaning processes, which are designed to clean a wide variety of materials and parts. These methods generally include:

  • Boiled water
  • Soap and water
  • Chemical cleaners

While these methods may work for some materials, they may not be the best option for highly critical parts or materials that require a higher level of cleanliness.

Specific Cleaning Processes

Depending on the type of material or part being cleaned, specific cleaning processes may be required. For example, cleaning fiber optic cables or electrical circuits requires a different type of cleaning process than cleaning metal parts. Some specific cleaning processes to consider include:

  • Dry ice blasting for cutting through tough grease and providing a fresh, clean surface
  • Hot water cleaning for removing tough grease and oil
  • Electric cleaning for removing grease and oil from tight spaces
  • Lower sound cleaning for convenience and repeatable results

Each specific cleaning process offers its own set of benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to choose the process that best fits the needs of the material or part being cleaned.

The Importance of Proper Cleaning Processes

Choosing the right cleaning process is critical to ensuring that parts and materials are cleaned to the required level of cleanliness. Using the wrong cleaning process can cause damage to the parts being cleaned or create potential safety hazards. It’s important to consider the following when choosing a cleaning process:

  • The type of material or part being cleaned
  • The level of cleanliness required
  • The potential effects of the cleaning process on the body or environment
  • The convenience and repeatable results of the cleaning process

By taking these factors into consideration, it’s possible to choose the best cleaning process for the job and ensure that the parts and materials are properly cleaned and ready for use.

Choosing the Right Solvent Degreaser: An Introduction to the Benefits, Safety Concerns, and Frequently Asked Questions

While solvent degreasers can be effective, there are some safety concerns to keep in mind. Some solvents can be harmful if ingested, inhaled, or come into contact with skin. It’s important to follow safety guidelines when using a solvent degreaser, including:

  • Wearing protective gear such as gloves, goggles, and a respirator
  • Using the degreaser in a well-ventilated area
  • Avoiding smoking or using open flames near the degreaser
  • Properly disposing of used degreaser and solvent-soaked rags

Frequently Asked Questions About Solvent Degreasers

Here are some frequently asked questions about solvent degreasers:

  • What types of products can be cleaned with a solvent degreaser? Solvent degreasers can be used on metal, glass, or plastic products.
  • What is the best type of solvent degreaser to use? The best type of solvent degreaser to use depends on the specific needs of the product being cleaned. Cold cleaners are best for small parts, open top vapor degreasers are best for larger parts, and conveyorized degreasers are best for high-volume cleaning.
  • Can solvent degreasers damage plastic components or rubber seals? Some solvents can damage plastic components or rubber seals, so it’s important to choose a degreaser that is safe for those materials.
  • Are all solvent degreasers the same? No, different solvent degreasers have different ingredients and are formulated for different purposes. It’s important to choose the right degreaser for the job.
  • Can solvent degreasers claim to be environmentally friendly? Yes, some solvent degreasers are formulated with environmentally friendly ingredients and can claim to be eco-friendly.

Remember to always read the label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using a solvent degreaser.

What’s the Deal with Degreasers?

A degreaser is a powerful cleaning product marketed to remove tough dirt and grease from a range of surfaces. Its primary function is to dissolve and remove greasy substances from metal parts, chains, and other surfaces.

The Role of Degreasers in Different Settings

Degreasers are available in different forms and are used in a variety of settings, from farms to factories to kitchens. Their significant role in the preparation of surfaces before painting or coating cannot be overstated.

The Different Types of Degreasers

There are two basic types of degreasers: solvent-based and water-based. Solvent-based degreasers are abrasive and can damage some surfaces. Water-based degreasers, on the other hand, are less abrasive and are ideal for cleaning delicate surfaces.

The Best Products for Different Surfaces

When choosing a degreaser, it’s important to consider the surface you’ll be cleaning. For metal surfaces, a solvent-based degreaser is the best option. For delicate surfaces such as plastic or rubber, a water-based degreaser is ideal.

Leaving Surfaces Smooth and Clean

Degreasers are powerful products that can leave surfaces smooth and clean. They’re perfect for removing grease and grime from kitchen surfaces, preparing metal surfaces for painting, and cleaning farm machinery.

Can plastic packaging, rubber seals, and components withstand degreasing?

When it comes to plastic packaging and components, it’s important to consider the type of plastic being used. Some plastics can withstand degreasing, while others may become damaged or discolored. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • High-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP) are generally resistant to degreasing solvents.
  • Polystyrene (PS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) may become brittle or discolored when exposed to certain degreasers.
  • Always check the manufacturer’s recommendations for the specific plastic being used.

Rubber seals

Rubber seals are commonly used in machinery and equipment that require degreasing. However, not all rubber seals are created equal. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Nitrile rubber (NBR) is commonly used in applications that require resistance to oils and solvents, making it a good choice for degreasing.
  • Viton® is a type of fluoroelastomer that is highly resistant to chemicals and solvents, making it ideal for harsh degreasing applications.
  • Always check the manufacturer’s recommendations for the specific rubber seal being used.


So, degreasing is the process of removing grease, oil, and contaminants from surfaces using a degreaser. 

It’s an essential step in many industries, and you should consider using a solvent-based degreaser for efficient removal and reduced contamination. So, don’t be afraid to give it a try! You’ll be surprised at just how easy it is.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.