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How to Make the Most of Auto Parts Washers

Jul. 15, 2022

Parts washers are heavy-duty, hard-working machines that have become an irreplaceable major component of any automotive or machined parts manufacturing process. But what are the critical control points in a parts cleaning system? Even when parts look clean, what factors can be overlooked and lead to bonding failures?

The machines responsible for cleaning metal parts have changed from the equivalent of large dishwashers to highly advanced ultrasonic water bath and steam degreasing systems. Ultrasonic parts washers are immersion tanks that use high-frequency sound waves to pulse water submerged in industrial components to release contaminants from all part surfaces.

How to Make the Most of Auto Parts Washers

Basic Factors

There are four factors involved in cleaning machine processed metal parts.

Time: The longer the part is exposed to the cleaning or rinsing solution, the more effective the part will be when cleaned and rinsed.

Temperature: Cleaning effectiveness increases as the water temperature increases until the maximum working temperature of the chemical solution is reached.

Chemicals and Concentration: Select chemicals and concentrations to remove specific contaminants from the part without damaging the part material.

Impact: In spray cleaners, spray impact is defined as the pressure and volume of the spray. The distance from the injector/nozzle to the part is also an important factor. The closer the nozzle is to the part, the stronger the spray impact. Ultrasound also increases the impact in the submerged system.

Component or circuit

Most aqueous parts cleaning systems use the same basic components or circuits, which include

Pumping circuit: Pump used to spray cleaning solution to the part, or used to enhance the cleaning in the submerged system through the immersion spray.

Heating circuit: Most aqueous cleaning systems use a heating solution (water and detergent) to remove oil and other organic soils. Electricity, natural gas/propane and steam are options for heating tanks.

Spray Bars and Nozzles: For spray applications, spray bars and nozzles are used to direct the cleaning solution onto the part. Depending on the geometry of the part, these spray bars are either fixed or oscillating to enhance the cleaning effect.

Control: The type of control varies depending on the type of washing system. Controls on single-stage, wash-only machines can be as simple as timers, thermostats and toggle switches used for other controls.

Chassis: The material of construction for most applications is stainless steel, 304 or 316, for more aggressive chemicals. Mild steel should only be used for applications with very high oil content. Quality machinery uses heavier gauge materials.

How to Make the Most of Auto Parts Washers

Cleaning Process

Here are some ways to optimize any type of parts cleaning system by understanding what is happening at each critical control point, which will upgrade your entire process.

Optimize the components of the parts washer: part placement, solvent, duration. Ensure uniform cleanliness, determine the timing of water usage, and detect the presence of oil. Ensure chemical cleanliness before laser welding, compare and select different washer systems, and finally, evaluate the effectiveness of the detergent.


Parts are only as clean as the last rinse. The purpose of rinsing is not to re-clean the part, but to remove detergent residues. Adding an additional rinse stage will improve cleaning performance, but this adds cost and floor space. In addition, fresh water rinses can improve overall cleanliness. A fresh rinse can be in the form of tap water, reverse osmosis water or deionized water. In most cases, this is the last flush and it will overflow into the previous tank.

At AUTOTOOLDEPOT, our parts washers are available in customizable options: volume, color, and packaging. We also sell other specialized parts for auto repair, including jacks, sandblasting pans, elastic cords, work lights, magnetic tools, tire inflation pumps, and more. Feel free to send us a message to get a product list and quote.

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