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Mild or Stainless Steel for Your Parts Washer?

Updated on May 11, 2010

Forced out of service after using the wrong detergent

What do you look for in a new parts washer? A key factor is the material of construction. A number of considerations needs to be done when choosing the material of construction. Though stainless steel is typically selected because of its durability and extended cabinet life, it also typically doubles the cost of the purchase, often taking it out of your budget! Some manufacturers offer a "hybrid," mild steel cabinets with a stainless steel door. This significantly adds to the cost of the aqueous parts washer and provides little benefit as the door is typically not the failure point.

Virtually all parts washer detergent manufacturers include a rust preventative additive (RP) to their products today. This helps to improve not only the useable life of the washer, but also to increase the corrosive protection (shelf life) of the processed parts. The detergents you select will also factor into the longevity of your parts washer. If a manufacturing process is to take place after washing and it does not tolerate the coating of the RP, you consider stainless steel wetted construction. Otherwise mild steel construction, in tandem with a detergent with a quality RP package, should provide a long washer life and keep the parts from flash rusting.

Over the years we have seen some catastrophes by using the wrong detergent. Pictured to the right is a machine we recently sold as a replacement for one that used an inferior detergent with a poor RP package for only 6 months. The result was extreme rusting of the cabinet and a machine that lasted only seven years, instead of the usual 20 of service. They also purchased a year’s supply of our special CWC 100 detergent with our enhanced RP package to be delivered with their new washer.

Recently we witnessed another washer prematurely destroyed by using commercial dishwashing detergent. Dishwashing detergent is very aggressive on steel as it is used primarily to clean glass. It also never has a RP package. In another situation, a very expensive washer, used to clean heavy duty off-road transmissions in a rebuild application, was rusting too rapidly. We learned that his maintenance personnel were utilizing an off-the-shelf concrete cleaner instead of a parts washer detergent with an RP package. We explained that if this were allowed to continue, the washer would not last until the end of his lease payments! After switching to our CWC-100 with our improved RP package, the cabinet rusting immediately stopped.

Our goal is to neither oversell nor undersell you a washer. We use our 25+ years of experiences to help you choose the proper construction when purchasing any of our aqueous parts washers. Please visit us at KC Quality Systems.



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