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Thread: Washing car parts at home

  1. #1
    Señor Member b3d3g1's Avatar
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    Default Washing car parts at home

    What's a good way to wash dirty car parts at home?

    I have various car parts that have caked on dirt and grease (suspension arms, hardware, etc). Right now I just use something like simple green, lots of rags, and then I give up.

    I don't really have room for a real parts washer in my garage. Plus it might not be very good for larger heavy parts or assemblies where only the outside needs to be clean (transmission).
    I've heard good things about hand held steam cleaners.
    Any other suggestions?
    -Anthony
    1991 Miata - Trogdor SuperMiata
    2011 Ram 2500 - all the torque
    2016 Kawasaki Versys 650LT - commuter

  2. #2
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    Step 1: Put used car parts in dishwasher

    Step 2: Retrieve clean car parts

    Step 3: Sign divorce papers.

  3. #3
    Señor Member b3d3g1's Avatar
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    Trying to avoid step 3 especially since I'm getting married next year.
    -Anthony
    1991 Miata - Trogdor SuperMiata
    2011 Ram 2500 - all the torque
    2016 Kawasaki Versys 650LT - commuter

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    http://www.trackhq.com/Banners/yellowsitesponsor.gif Blackbird's Avatar
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    You can do what I do if my trailer gets really dirty (like an oil spill..), throw dirty parts at the back of the truck, drive to your nearest coin-op car wash, use the engine degreaser and then pressure wash things off.
    Works every time.

  5. #5
    Administrator ucfbrett's Avatar
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    Years ago when i worked at a GM dealership, access to a SafeyKleen parts washer was one of the key perks of the job. I struggle with this, too.

    Harbor Freight has a parts washer, but what do you do with the used solution? Do you open a SafetyKleen account and have the guy come every year?

  6. #6
    Sir flink
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    Hand spray bottle filled with mineral spirits. Squirt the part down, let it sit for a bit, hit it with the hose.

    Or, better, hit with compressed air. Be prepared to get an epic faceful of crap.

  7. #7
    RaceTape Ninja Force McCocken's Avatar
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    depends on the material and chemicals I use. I will put stuff in buckets submerge in chemical, seal it up or use a lid with a small vent, leave it out side. Non-structural or non-machined aluminum bits may get an EZ Off over cleaner treatment, but never sits. There are a couple of larger NAPAs or Carquests that do machining that also offer parts cleaning for reasonable pricing. I had one of those NAPAs tank my intake manifold on the e30 when I rebuilt it. It turned out nice and I got it back the next day. I think it was $10-20. Georgia is a bit easier with their regulations, but recycling the chemicals isn't too hard to do, if they aren't caustic.
    Yer pal,
    Force

  8. #8
    Chest hair required Olitho's Avatar
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    Time to buy a new race car.
    To the right of The Sheriff. Isn't everyone?

  9. #9
    Senior Member robburgoon's Avatar
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    Force, was it an iron intake?

  10. #10
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    I like a clean race car. What works for me...

    Cement mixing tray to use as a wash tub. Various cheap bristle brushes from HF. Scotch brite pads too.

    WD-40 Foaming Engine Degreaser is the best general purpose stuff I've used, including suspension arms, oil pans, etc. Foaming is key (stays put). Better than similar foaming degreaser products. Saturate, soak, and then scrub. Rinses clean and easily with water. Repeat if needed. Approx $6/can. This is often better than even a proper parts washer, depending on the part/application.

    For the sake of comparison this product is comparable to oven cleaner (lye) but won't harm aluminum or paint. With most parts it's better than the following ranked list best/worst, some of which are very harmful to parts, people, environment:
    Other foaming degreasers
    Oven Cleaner (lye) (too harsh, esp. aluminum)
    Plain WD-40 (good/cheap for transmission bell cleaning, saturate + wipe)
    Carb Cleaner (surprisingly effective because it stays put, + safe for brass)
    Gasoline, kerosene, fuel etc (evaporates too quickly, hard to dispose, neurologically one of the worst here)
    Paint Remover (not suitable - far, far too harsh, too dangerous, melts gloves rapidly)
    Brake Cleaner (evaporates too quickly, harsh on paint)
    Acetone (evaporates too quickly, harsh on paint, melts gloves)
    Mineral Spirits
    Orange Solvent, Goo Gone, Etc.
    Denatured Alcohol (best for brake fluid, use liberally)
    Hand Cleaner (Lanolin - good for oil)
    Submerge in boiling water + dish soap (for smaller parts)
    Common Dish Soap (surprisingly effective with oil, inexpensive and not harsh on hands)
    Motor oil (very slow, only works as dispersant in conjunction with something else)
    Simple Green / Purple Power (et al. degreasers - rarely effective, I prefer cheap dish soap)
    Vinegar soaks can be good for small ferrous parts.

    When chemicals fail to work or are too harsh, Scotch Brite and abrasive wheels come into play, esp. with WD-40 as lube. e.g. cleaning tops of pistons.

    This is all general purpose. Some chemicals work better than others depending on the clean-up, like white grease on sway bars, ugh. Other cleaning uses others methods. e.g. Naval Jelly or acid for rust etc.

    Good luck!
    2GRX7, ucfbrett, bawareca and 1 others like this.

  11. #11
    Senior Member bellwilliam's Avatar
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    You guys don't use pressure washer ?
    S1 Supermiata - 220whp
    13 Tesla, ma: no engine !!
    17 GT350R
    03 Miata Club Sport
    96 NSX
    06 EVO MR
    15 Mini Cooper S
    Beck 550 Spyder

  12. #12
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    Anyone try Oxy-Clean? I've tried it on smaller, steel parts and it was really good.

  13. #13
    The Real Captain Slow Red_5's Avatar
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    I've been using Oil Eater or something like that. I bought a big jug of it at Costco awhile back but it only works okay. I also will use a pressure washer but I only use it after the oil eater stuff. I don't want to spray the oil all over the place even it it's leaking out of the ground around around here.
    99 Mazda Miata SuperMiata #515 - AKA Sparky SOLD
    '91 Mariner Blue Miata project AKA Napoleon

  14. #14
    RaceTape Ninja Force McCocken's Avatar
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    I use Purple Power, Simple Green, Acetone, Gasket Remover (can), EZ Off (only a few applications), and few others. MOPAR makes a carbon deposit solvent that someone gave me that worked great on a set of pistons and a head. A lot of elbow grease, 10-pack tooth brushes from Costco, etc. Read what your working with, use a mask where applicable, always goggles and gloves.

    I amuse friends with my surgical-clean engine parts. :shrug:

    Rob - that was an aluminum intake off an m20.
    Yer pal,
    Force

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