If you have gunk all over your parts or tools, a parts washer is the perfect piece of equipment to use to get them all clean and shiny again. It looks like a portable metal sink, but the special material it’s made out of is safe with any chemicals that might be used for cleaning. A pump inside the basin part cycles solvent or whatever kind of cleaner you might be using.
Why You Should Have a Parts Washer
Having one of these is much better than trying to make do without one due to how much time you can save. Scrubbing your part in an aluminum pan or plastic basin is not only much more of a hassle, it could make a big mess and even ruin the container you put it in. Considering how much easier it is to use a proper parts washer, it will pay for itself in time and effort saved.
Safety Precautions for Cleaning Car Parts and Tools
First of all, if you’re using compressed air, eyewear is essential. Even if you aren’t it’s a good idea to protect your eyes to make sure you don’t accidentally flick a bit of solvent, grease, or anything else into your eye. Gloves are very important. If you’re dealing with corrosive chemicals of any kind, they can actually eat away at the skin on your fingers if you don’t wear gloves.
A facemask is also recommended. It’s not good to breathe the fumes from the liquid solution depending on what kind you’re using. Accidentally inhaling a bit of fumes won’t kill you, but over a period of years, it can lead to cancer or other health complications. Keep anything that sparks or makes fire clear from the area. Many of the chemicals for cutting grease are flammable. Some units come with a safety mechanism on the lid in case of a fire. With this feature, the lid only open about 60 degrees because there is a heat activated fuse that allows the lid to shut if it senses a fire. You should keep the lid closed at all times when you’re not using it.
What Cleaners You Can Use in a Parts Washer
Although there are a lot of different ways to clean off oil, gunk, and other buildup, a cleaning product specifically designed for cleaning auto parts and tools will do the best job. Dish soap and hot water with a coarse brush can be used. That can actually be done in a plastic basin or pan, but it won’t penetrate deep into small spaces and crevices. Paint thinner or mineral spirits may also be used in a parts washer depending on whether the manual says it’s safe or not. Many degreasers are partly made from mineral spirits anyway. If your unit is safe for use with them, the pump should cycle it just the same. Leaving dirty parts under the pump’s stream for a while before scrubbing will help it do its job.
How to Use a Parts Washer
Before even using a product or solution to breakdown gunk, you should scrape whatever it is that you need to clean with a plastic scraper first to keep your mixture from getting dirty fast. It will last longer that way and make cleaning out your unit easier. Scraping should be done dry in combination with a nylon or wire brush. Once you’ve done that, you can either let the piece soak for a while or start brushing it while holding it under the stream of the pump. You should attempt to get the brush as deep as possible into any holes or crevices and wipe out any residue.
You can make modifications to the washer yourself. You can install a filtration system using an oil filter and a couple of hoses that hook up to the tank’s pump. Water based solvent can’t be used with an oil filter though, because it will destroy the filter from the inside. If the model you have doesn’t come with a drain, one can be drilled into the bottom so you can drain your solvent right back into its empty container. Once you do that, you can let the thick residue settle to the bottom, and later remove the liquid leaving most of the gunk behind.
If you turn on your unit and it doesn’t work at first, let it run for a while. New pumps sometimes take a minute or two to start functioning properly. Many come with a solvent tank cleaning brush, but it’s always good to have more than one kind of brush, so you might want to order a few online or pick them up at your local hardware store.
Most Effective Parts Cleaning Solvent
In case you just want to get the best stuff you can get and don’t feel like bothering with alternative methods, here is the best cleaning product that you can easily order online. Be sure to check the manual that came with your parts washer just to be certain that this can be used with your unit.
B’laster 128-PWS Industrial Strength Parts Washer Solvent
B’laster is an extremely effective cleaning fluid with a high flashpoint, meaning it only ignites at high temperatures (145 F). This formula cuts deep into hard to reach spots and loosens up caked-on oil and grease stains. Coupled with a good brush, this solution can clean virtually any car part or tool very thoroughly. It comes in either one or five gallon containers. Unless you have a small unit, the five gallon option is recommended. B’laster stays good for many uses and doesn’t leave behind residue. This is definitely one of the best solvents money can buy.
Top Auto Parts Washers
Below are the best washer units available in terms of value and overall quality. Depending on what size you need, you should be able to find something in this list that will perform well and that you’ll be very happy with.
Goplus 20 Gallon Mobile Parts Washer Cart Electric Solvent Pump Cleaner New
It’s made from solid steel with durable powder-coat finish, safe for use with any water-based solutions. The pump keeps fluid flowing at a steady rate of 5.28 gallons per minute. That’s plenty of pressure for running over the part and eating away grease as it flows. It comes at a great price for its size and should last as long as you’ll ever need it.
Black Bull PPWASH20 Portable Parts Washer with 20 Gallon Capacity
Its maximum pump output depends on whether you are using the flexible pipe or not. Without the flexible pipe, it flows at a max rate of 5.3 gallons per minute. With the flexible pipe, it operates at 3.2 gallons per minute. 3.2 gpm is definitely still enough to dissolve and scrub off buildup with the help of a brush.
It sits on lockable wheels for safe and easy movement. You must be careful though while moving it when it’s full. If you move it too fast, solvent could splash out from the sides. It holds up to 12 gallons of solution, which can be safely covered by a fire-detection lid. The Black Bull is a smart choice for anyone who needs a durable unit that will last years to come.
OEMTOOLS 24804 Mobile Parts Washer
It’s made from polyethylene, which can be used with virtually any water-based automotive degreasing fluid. The pump operates at 4 gallons per minute, which is enough pressure to effectively wash the residue off of any part along with some brushing. Complete with a drain plug in the bottom and a tight-fitting lid, this portable product can be used onsite and taken back home or back to the office without even breaking a sweat.
Torin T10035 Part Washer – 3.5 Gallon
The pump has a very strong flow, but the flow can be controlled by either using a thicker fluid or modifying the nozzle. You could also replace the hose to slow down the flow, but if you get used to using it as it already is, you can still easily prevent splashing without any modifications. You just need to be kind of careful when placing things under the stream. For a semi-small sized unit, this Torin option is one of the best you can get.
PARTS WASHER BM by BikeMaster
Coupled with a good brush, you can clean any small part or tool in this unit. And since it’s easy to tote around, you can use it anywhere without even having to empty it first. Whether you need it for motorcycle parts, hand tools, or anything else, this will do the job nicely.
Goplus 40 Gallon Parts Washer Electric Solvent Pump Shelf Tank
Wel-Bilt 20-Gallon Portable Parts Washer
This unit has a steel body with a fusible link for fire safety. It has wheels that lock into place, so you can set it aside and out of the way when you’re not using it and then wheel it back when you need it. It also has a convenient plug and drain system underneath. As a reasonably priced option, the Wel-Bilt 20 gallon model is a great choice for any garage.