Is your parts cleaning an accident waiting to happen?

Posted on 28 Sep 2021 by The Manufacturer

Keeping parts and components clean is a routine aspect of manufacturing. But industrial cleaning substances are usually corrosive and flammable. Both using them and storing them presents a risk to firms. One serious workplace accident or on-site fire and an organisation stands to lose a lot more than just its reputation. That’s why more firms are choosing to take advantage of parts cleaning services that use gentler chemicals, but deliver equally impressive (if not better) results.

Manufacturing is often a messy business. Oil, grease, swarf and other debris are inevitable parts of the production process. They’re also elements that need to be removed before the product can be shipped – sometimes even during its manufacture ready for the next phase.

However, keeping customers happy isn’t the only reason for manufacturers to stay on top of their parts cleaning. By removing contaminants from tools and machines, firms boost the chances of their production running efficiently and the quality of their output remaining consistent.

But while cleaning parts and components is usually a necessary part of manufacturing, it’s both time-consuming and potentially hazardous for the firm’s workers.

Now, some manufacturers opt for a rag and elbow grease approach for cleaning parts. But this doesn’t always deliver the required outcomes. As a result, potentially dangerous chemical agents, such as brake cleaner and other solvents, are used to achieve the level of cleanliness the manufacturer demands.

However, like all employers, manufacturers have a legal obligation to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their staff. Furthermore, by showing that it is meeting its moral and ethical obligations to protect its staff, a manufacturer promotes itself as a place where people will want to work.

But handling and using substances like brake cleaner has its risks.

Brake cleaner vapour can irritate the eyes. Direct contact with skin can cause significant irritation. And prolonged contact can lead to permanent damage to the skin. Without proper ventilation, training and safety equipment, workers could be injured or suffer longer-term effects.

And accidents do, unfortunately, happen. According to a 2015 American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, between 1999 and 2008, 57,975 hazardous workplace substance incidents occurred. Chemical manufacturing, educational services, truck transportation, food manufacturing and utilities accounted for over one third (36%) of injured persons.

This reality has a direct impact on a manufacturer’s productivity. After all, workers that are injured and cannot come to work are unable to contribute to the firm’s success. Plus, their absence can put additional strain on a company’s other employees, which can lead to further absences.

Finally, many cleaning agents are highly flammable, which poses another risk in itself. Storing said chemicals safely to prevent them from posing a fire hazard is something else manufacturers need to take into consideration. Furthermore, storing hazardous, flammable industrial cleaning chemicals could have an impact on a manufacturer’s insurance premiums.

But there’s more…

Industrial accidents involving chemical substances don’t just have the potential to injure workers. If made public, they can also lead to extremely negative PR, as well as potential litigation. For businesses, this double whammy of having to pay legal fees and possibly compensation, plus the added damage caused by the bad publicity, makes the possibility of an industrial accident potentially catastrophic for a firm.

So, is there a better, safer way for manufacturers’ parts and components cleaning needs to be met?

Is your parts cleaning an accident waiting to happen?. Image courtesy of Safetykleen

Parts cleaning as a service: A safer alternative

Gone are the days when manufacturers needed to scope, purchase and maintain their own parts cleaning equipment. Now, firms can have their parts cleaning needs assessed and suitable solutions implemented with ease.

Not only is parts cleaning as a service efficient and cost-effective, it’s also safer for a firm’s employees.

That’s because advanced parts cleaning companies, like Safetykleen, have invested significant amounts of time and money into developing solutions that

With parts cleaning as a service, manufacturers can also take advantage of the latest technology without needing to clean and maintain their own cleaning machines. As part of the service, the parts cleaning solution provider will take care of maintaining the equipment, replenishing necessary chemicals and safely disposing of everything in the process, further negating risk.

Taken as a whole, it’s easy to see how a service approach to parts cleaning can make an organisation more productive and reduce the number of paid sick days taken by workers.


  • Parts cleaning solution scoped and specified in line with your requirements
  • No need to use flammable, harmful chemicals or store them
  • All equipment delivered, installed and tested
  • Full training provided
  • Regular machine maintenance carried out
  • Any waste safely removed and disposed of by the parts cleaning service provider

Is your parts cleaning an accident waiting to happen?. Image courtesy of Safetykleen

Safetykleen in action

West Technology’s vacuum pump service department often receives pumps through its doors that are caked in grease, dirt and heavy oil. This all needs to be removed before West Technology can inspect the customer’s pump.

Historically, the firm would clean many of these components — especially smaller ones — manually. Larger parts would be cleaned using an automatic machine. While this setup worked, it wasn’t without its drawbacks and risks.

Heavily stained parts would often still require manual cleaning, with workers using brake cleaner and abrasive scrubbing materials to remove stubborn stains. For the worst situations, shot blasting by an external third-party was needed.

While West Technology did indeed achieve the cleaning levels it required, the necessary processes involved significant amounts of downtime and required workers to use flammable liquids and corrosive brake cleaner. This reality meant that worker health and safety was always a concern.

By implementing two Safetykleen solutions, Ultrakleen™ and Jetkleen™, West Technology is now not only fully in control of its cleaning capabilities, but also no longer needs to rely on hazardous chemicals. Instead, all parts are now cleaned with non-hazardous, VOC-free pH neutral cleaning fluids, helping to improve the working environment.

As a result, minimum PPE is required, worker safety has been further safeguarded and flammable cleaning agents don’t pose a fire risk.

About Safetykleen

Safetykleen International is the world’s leading provider of parts washers, surface treatment and chemical application services. Founded in 1973, the company has almost 50 years of experience offering a wide range of solutions to address the needs of manufacturers globally.

Operating in 11 European countries, including the UK, the company has over 2,500 employees and provides parts cleaning services that can support a huge range of customer requirements across many different manufacturing sectors.

For more information, visit or call 0330 912 7419.

*All images courtesy of Safetykleen