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How to Choose the Right Industrial Parts Washers for Your Business

Date: 22 March 2023 | Category: How to...

Keeping industrial parts clean is essential in the manufacturing process. But with so many different industrial parts washers on the market, it can be hard to figure out which one is right for your business. To ensure you make the right choice, you need to consider your specific needs and budget.

This article will provide you with all the information you need to select the best industrial parts washers for your business. You’ll learn about the different types of washers, their features, and the advantages and disadvantages of each. We’ll also discuss how to set an appropriate budget for your parts washer. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of the different types of industrial parts washers, and you’ll be ready to make an informed decision about which one is right for you.

What are industrial parts washers?

Industrial parts washers are machines that clean industrial parts and equipment. They use a combination of water, chemicals, and pressure to remove dirt and grime from parts and equipment. They are also sometimes used to remove paint, coatings, and rust. They’re ideal for cleaning items that need to be cleaned to a particularly high or consistent level (for example those used in non destructive testing – NDT). They’re used in a variety of industries, including automotive, food, pharmaceutical, and manufacturing. Parts washers are also sometimes referred to as Hotwashes, clean-in-place (CIP) machines, or cleaning baths.

Types of industrial parts washers

There are two main types of industrial parts washers, immersion washers and spray washers. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. There are also different types of immersion washers and spray washers that each have their own features. This section will cover the different types of washers and their features. You’ll also learn about their advantages and disadvantages. This will help you decide which washer best meets your needs and budget.

Immersion washers

Immersion washers are designed for cleaning large parts or multiple parts at once. They typically have a tank or bath filled with a cleaning solution into which baskets of parts are loaded, and some sort of fluid circulation process to ensure waste is fully separated from the cleaned parts. You can also find immersion washers that use a rotating barrel to clean the parts. Immersion washers are best for cleaning irregularly shaped parts that might not be cleaned fully with spraying. They’re also ideal for cleaning parts that need to be submerged in a cleaning solution. Immersion washers are generally more expensive than spray washers.

Spray washers

Spray washers use a pump to deliver a high-pressure stream of cleaning fluid to clean parts and equipment. There are two main types of spray parts washers, manual and automatic.

Manual parts washers are generally less expensive than immersion or automatic parts washers. They’re ideal for cleaning smaller parts and equipment like valves, motor components and filters. The fact that the machine is manual means you can inspect the cleaning process as you go, adjusting the amount of time spent on particular areas and the direction of the spray based on your needs. To offset the time requirements of this hands-on approach, the best manual machines available for industry will have a high-pressure spray that delivers the desired cleaning performance in a shorter period of time.

Automatic parts washers clean by spraying the parts loaded into them. These machines tend to be large or even very large, and are therefore suitable for cleaning many parts at once, or for cleaning particularly big items. The parts sit in a basket that rotates during the cleaning cycle to ensure that everything is cleaned equally well. In some larger machines this basket can be rolled into place so that really heavy parts can be hoisted onto it for cleaning. But the biggest advantage of these machines is that, once loaded and switched on, they require no human intervention until the cleaning process is complete. You will also find automatic spray washers in a few other industrial situations. Continuous spray washers can be used to clean parts or equipment at different stages as they move along a production line. These are often used in the automotive and food industries. There are even high temperature spray washers that are typically used in a lab setting for sanitising equipment.

Things to consider when choosing an industrial parts washer

What you’re cleaning:

This will help you select a washer that can clean your largest parts, and multiple parts at once. Most washers come in standard sizes, so you should be able to find a machine that fits your needs. You can also find flexible machines that can be customised to fit your needs, but they are typically more expensive. It will also help you determine what sort of cleaning fluids or solvents you may need to use, though modern chemistry means that the best option here is to start with expert advice.

Cleaning frequency:

You should also consider how often you will clean your parts and equipment, and how many items need to be cleaned each time. The more frequent your cleaning, the more an automatic solution will help drive business efficiency, while large numbers of items will tend to mean you need fewer larger machines rather than smaller ones.

Cleaning quality:

As long as your supplier can provide a machine and chemical cleaning fluid that’s specifically matched to your needs, you should easily be able to achieve the cleaning quality you need. Automatic spray washers and immersion parts washers tend to provide the most consistent cleaning, but high-pressure manual parts washers can be better when the amount of soil to be removed is variable. Manual spraying can also work well if the parts are complex shapes, though in this case an ultrasonic parts cleaner may actually be most appropriate.

Regulatory compliance:

Any parts washer and cleaning chemicals you use will of course need to be safe to use, but it should also comply with the regulations and standards relevant to your business and/or the businesses you supply. And if these things are not pre-certified for you, you will likely face additional costs to achieve compliance.

Supplies & maintenance:

Some of the most commonly overlooked costs associated with choosing an industrial parts washer are those related to supplies and maintenance. For the first, you need to consider how you will source the cleaning chemicals you will need if your package does not include them, what you will do if prices change unexpectedly between restocks, and where and how much cleaning product you can safely store on site. For the second, you need to plan an MRO process to keep the machine running, and the impact of machine breakdown on your business. Both of these tend to argue against buying and running a machine yourself, since a service based around machine hire should include regular cleaning fluid replacement and machine maintenance, as well as access to emergency support and quick repair or replacement if your parts washer does break down.

Waste management:

The final thing to consider is how the waste from cleaning will be handled, and stored until it’s removed from your site. Waste management services can be purchased as a separate solution, but they will need to comply with any regulations related to the type of soil and cleaning chemicals you have been using.

Armed with this information, it should be easy to work out what the cost of a parts washer or parts cleaning service should be for your business, but to get an understanding of the value of the service, it’s also best practise to work out the manpower and material costs of using an entirely manual parts cleaning process to use as a benchmark.

Machines to fit your requirements

Choose one of our paint gun cleaning solutions, and you’ll have a choice of manual and automatic machines that can clean HVLP, gravity- and suction-fed spray guns, as well as solvent or water-based paints and varnishes.

Before you make the final decision, consider the following tips:


Shop around

There are many different manufacturers of washers, and they each have their own features and benefits. Before you make a purchasing decision, shop around and compare different manufacturers to find the best washer for your business.

Consider the Total Cost

Parts washers can range in price from a few hundred pounds to many many thousands, but the true costs of a machine are much more complex. Remember to include cleaning fluid supplies, repair and component replacement, waste removal, compliance updates, and above all the manpower costs associated with actually using the parts washer, on top of the up-front cost.

Look for evidence

In addition to online reviews you may find, it’s also worth looking in detail at testimonials and case studies to get an idea of what other customers think of their parts washers as this will help you determine if the parts washer is right for you.

See it in action

Having the chance to use the parts washer before you commit can be really important, and so a solution that can show you cleaning performance through video, in a demo or best of all with a pre-purchase free trial, is well worth considering.


Buying a parts washer may seem like a simple task, but it’s more complicated than you may realise. When it comes to industrial parts washers, understanding the total cost, and getting the expert support you need can be invaluable.

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Industrial Parts Washers FAQs

What does a parts washer do?

Sometimes known as a parts cleaner, a hotwasher or hotwash, a cleaning cabinet or even a pot washer, a parts washer is a machine designed to remove a variety of soils and contaminating substances from components. The simplest manual versions are little more than sinks with a hose that sprays cleaning fluid onto the item being cleaned, but the best parts parts washers are automatic machines (similar to industrial dishwashers) that can handle large items or loads with ease, and provide consistent high-quality cleaning, and even rinsing and drying.

Are parts washers worth it?

While they may seem expensive at first, parts washers can save your business significant time and money. The automatic parts washers used by Leonard Helicopters have been shown to save up to 60 minutes on a single cleaning operation, to reduce reported issues with incomplete cleaning by 75%, and to provide energy savings of up to 20%. Even if workspace is limited, a small high-pressure parts washer can clean up to 10 times faster than a standard manual machine.

What can you clean with a parts washer?

Modern parts washers can be used on much more than just metal parts. As well as screws and bolts, engine blocks and carburettors, a parts washer can also clean items made of ceramics, glass, plastics and even rubber effectively without damage. And, while the most common contaminants remain grease, dirty oil, dust and other particles, with the right combination of machine and parts cleaning solution it is possible to remove waxes, coolants, and even paints, inks, limescale and rust. This flexibility means that parts washers can provide inter-operational cleaning for a range of manufacturing, maintenance and repair processes from surface treatment and passivation to sanitisation, product testing and quality control.

How do parts washers clean?

Cleaning with an automatic parts washer cabinet involves loading the parts to be cleaned onto basket or platform inside the machine. Once closed, the machine sprays heated, pressurised cleaning solution down onto the parts as the platform rotates. In multi-stage machines, this can then be followed by rinsing and drying cycles. Manual parts washers work by spraying the cleaning fluid directly onto the dirty parts through a hand-held hose as the user moves the parts around and potentially brushes off accumulations of dirt.