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Parts Cleaning Information








There are several different types of parts cleaning equipment and manufacturers but the most common types are:

  • Sink-on-drum
  • Vat style
  • Ultrasonic tanks
  • Cabinet style washers

Solvents may be petroleum-based such as mineral spirits, stoddard solvent, or petroleum naptha; or they may be organic such as tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethane, trichloroethylene, benzene, and xylenes.

Many commonly used solvents have flashpoints below 140° F, making them an ignitable hazardous waste and spent solvents are also often found to be hazardous waste because they contain toxic metals from parts and equipment cleaned in the parts washer.

When it comes to aqueous solutions there are several types of categories such as high alkaline, butyl, microbial or other surfactant type solutions. Aqueous systems work differently than solvent cleaning as solvents dissolve grease or solids where aqueous-based solutions use heat, agitation, soap action and time to break dirt into smaller particles. Aqueous systems will be hazardous if they have a flash point lower than 140°F or have become contaminated above regulatory limits with toxic chemicals or they are contaminated with solvents. They will also be hazardous if they have a pH of 2.0 or lower or 12.5 or greater. Don’t use chlorinated aerosols or other cleaners over the sink. Units with filtration systems that remove particles may extend the life of solution and make sure filters are changed and other maintenance instructions are followed to maximize cleaner life and to cut waste and disposal costs. 

Determining Whether the Spent Solution Is Hazardous Aqueous (water-based) cleaners are often advertised as nonhazardous — and they often are. But, in the process of washing dirty parts, the cleaning solution may become contaminated with metals, solvents or metal-bearing oils and greases at levels that may make the waste solution hazardous. Based on current information, spent aqueous cleaning solutions should be managed as a hazardous waste unless the generator has site-specific Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) results that show otherwise If you propose to discharge the waste solution to a sanitary-sewer system, make sure that tests and results meet both hazardous waste and discharge requirements and contact your local wastewater treatment plant and your hazardous waste regulatory authority for more information on the types of testing each may require.


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