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Parts Washers: The Ultimate Buyers Guide

parts washers: the ultimate buyers guide

Many people consider cleaning parts, much too time-consuming and a frustrating of a task. Manual part washers take the hard work out of auto repair clean up. Used to remove contaminants or debris, such as dirt, grime, oil, grease etc from work pieces with ease.

What do parts washers do ?

A parts washer, which is sometimes referred to as a parts cleaner, is basically a tub designed to wash automobile parts in. This tub is filled with a solvent which allows the user to both soak and scrub parts (often with a metal brush, rag, or toothbrush). Using a pump which circulates the solvent through a hose, you can then rinse parts with a stream of solvent-water solution. These machines are essential in maintenance, repair and re-manufacturing operations. It is used for various tasks from cleaning fasteners, nuts, bolts and screws to diesel engine blocks and related parts. Having the right parts washer for the job can make your work much easier. They are particularly great for de-greasing parts such as wheel bearings, transmission and engine internals, carburettor parts, and most metal parts.

Which parts washer is best?


solvent based parts cleaner

A solvent based part washer works by dissolving the dirt on your work pieces. Solvents include petroleum based solvents such as mineral spirits, and naphtha, along with organic type solvents like trichloroethane, trichlorethylene, benzene, and xylene. The solvent you decide to use is entirely your own preference, however it would be recommended that you consult your parts washer manual before making your solvent purchase.

This style parts washer need to be filled with several litres of your preferred solvent. This is then stored in a settling pan at the bottom of the washer, while small flame-tight electric liquid pump is immersed in the solvent, skimming clean solvent from the top of the tank, and pumping it at low pressure through a stiff flexible nozzle onto a metal grating above the liquid where the metal components rest. Dirt and dissolved heavy greases fall into the bottom and settle to the bottom of the tank, ready to be removed when the solvent is changed and disposed of.


An aqueous based parts washer, is as the name suggests, based on using water as the main cleaning agent. Occasionally combined with a detergent, a aqueous based parts cleaner is often compared to an oversized dishwasher. An aqueous based parts washer requires only a water rinse and when heated can provide very effective results. This solution is safer than solvent-based systems because the risk of the cleaning solution catching fire, or causing heath hazards is eliminated, however it can often require several uses to properly clean work pieces and may still leave an oily residue across the surface.

What is the best parts washer solvent?

When researching solvents to use in your parts washer, you may come across many old school mechanics, swearing by diesel as the go to cleaning aid for parts washers. Not only is diesel not an effective cleaning agent thanks to its high oil content, it also poses very serious health and safety risks. If diesel comes in contact with skin it is quickly and directly absorbed through the skin and can get into the bloodstream.

Skin contact can lead to severe redness and chemical burn blisters. Diesel vapours cause irritation to eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. Excessive short term exposure can lead to dizziness, drowsiness, loss of coordination, blood pressure elevation, nausea, and lung damage. Long term exposure to diesel vapours can cause kidney damage and reduce the clotting ability of blood. Diesel, as you're probably aware, is highly flammable and vaporises quickly. It's best to steer clear of using anything flammable in the part washer as electric parts can cause fire and void any warranty.

what is the best parts washer solvent

One of the most commonly used solvents is mineral spirits. Mineral spirits are relatively cheap and can be found many places. Some companies have made solvents with special formulations, such as Swarfega Jizer, that improve on the properties of mineral spirits which results in cleaner parts with less effort.

How can the spent parts washer waste be best managed?

Even if the solvent you have just used is completely water soluble and bio-degradable, you've still just used it to clean an ecological disaster off your car (oil, metal particles, etc...) and it's not good to have those floating down the drainage system, into our water supply.

When you're changing over your part washers solution, it must be handled very carefully as it can pose serious health safety risks. Appropriate PPE should be worn, such as goggles, gloves and a mask when handling spent parts washer waste. It should also be disposed of as safely as possible. The best way to do this is to contact your local recycling plant or waste treatment centre to find out the local course of action. It's important to choose the safest, most responsible and most environmentally responsible means of disposing of your parts washer waste. Your preference here should always be to either seek a recycling option, or to make sure it's sent to a reprocessing facility that meets all regulatory requirements. Not only the actual parts washer waste, but also any rags, brushes or gloves that may be not be contaminated, need to be disposed of in a responsible way.

What sized parts washer do I need?

As with most machines you have in your garage the size and power of it typically is dependent on how often it will be used, and what it will be used for. The same thing is true of part washers. The physical dimensions are important to consider, as they will quickly let you know what sized parts you can fit inside them. But also the tank and fluid capacity will give an idea of how often the washer can be used before the waste needs to be emptied and changed. The more often you expect to use the washer, the larger the tank would be required.

Bench Mounted 19 Litre Tank Capacity Parts Washer

manual solvent parts washer

This Parts Washer is the simplest way to clean component parts covered in oil, grease and dirt. The fully enclosed electric pump continuously circulates cleaning fluid, allow you to deliver it accurately onto your work piece through the flexi-firm nozzle. This essential product is easily transported as a bench top model - ideal for smaller component. The sturdy steel construction with an enamelled finish has a 19 litre tank capacity, with a 10 litre fluid capacity with dimensions of (LxWxH) 460 x 340 x 230mm.

Mobile 60 Litre Tank Capacity Parts Washer

sgs parts washer

Sat on 4 durable swivel castors, this parts washer enables you to easily move it around the workshop as you please. Made of high strength carbon steel, welded integrated tank-type construction, and a black powder-coat finish this washer guarantees many years of leak-free service. It has 90 litres oer hour water capacity, making it suitable for cleaning medium-sized parts. Features heat resistant lid with fusible link, automatically closes to prevent fire accident.

Floor Standing 75 Litre Tank Capacity Parts Washer

75 litre parts washer

This large floor standing parts washer features a fully enclosed electric pump that continuously circulates cleaning fluid, allowing you to deliver it accurately onto the work piece through the flexi-firm nozzle.  The sturdy steel construction with an enamelled finish boasts a tank capacity of 75 litres and a fluid capacity of 45 litres. With a maximum pump flow rate 90 Litres per hour this washer is powerful enough to tackle all range of jobs.

Still need help?

still need help

Our in house experts are always on hand for buying advice and to provide bespoke care, regardless of the application.

Call SGS on 01332 576 850 or fill out our contact form today.

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