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Proper Cleaning for a Smooth Vapor Degreasing Fluid Conversion
October 18, 2023

In the dynamic landscape of industrial cleaning, parts maunufacturers often opt for switching cleaning fluids in their vapor degreasers to enhance efficiency, safety, and environmental compliance. While the decision is sound, the process demands meticulous attention to cleaning, neutralization, and passivation of the vapor degreaser to avoid potential pitfalls. In this blog, we delve into one manufacturer's experience with converting from nPB (n-Propyl Bromide) to a more modern, environmentally sustainable solvent, underscoring the importance of careful vapor degreaser cleaning during the transition.

The Switch:

The manufacturer opted for a substitution, replacing nPB with a low-boiling, environmentally sustainable cleaning fluid sourced from a competitor of MicroCare. Despite the vapor degreaser having no external piping where solvents could linger, a small reservoir for the water separator on the side made a thorough cleaning process imperative. Unfortunately, the execution of the cleaning fell short. 

The Consequences:

Traces of nPB persisted on coils or in recesses, as its higher boiling point meant it outlasted the replacement fluid. Over time, as the stabilizer in the nPB dissipated, the residual substance turned acidic, corroding the machine and compromising degreaser performance. 

The Solution: 

Uncertain about the next steps, the manufacturer reached out to the MicroCare Critical Cleaning Team for help. Our MicroCare technical experts proposed a comprehensive approach involving thorough neutralization, cleaning, and passivation for the affected vapor degreaser.

While the suggested neutralizing chemistry proved to be a cost-effective solution, it came with the trade-offs of being labor-intensive and messy. Additionally, proper disposal of old solvents was necessary. Implementing this process required a temporary pause in production, spanning several days to ensure its completion. 

The Steps:

The parts manufacturer prioritized safety by implementing all necessary protocols, which involved the use of personal protective equipment, ensuring proper ventilation, and adhering to the buddy system. Subsequently, they proceeded to drain their vapor degreaser and meticulously rinsed it with clean water.

Following this, the degreaser underwent a neutralization process wherein it was filled with water up to the coils, and sodium bicarbonate was added. The solution was then heated and circulated throughout the system. The vapor degreaser was rinsed with water and drained.

For the re-passivation step, a citric acid solution was prepared, and the vapor degreaser was filled with it. The solution was circulated through the degreaser to ensure thorough coverage of all surfaces. After draining the citric acid solution, the vapor degreaser underwent repeated rinsing with clean water. Subsequent to multiple rinses, the interior of the vapor degreaser was dried before introducing the new cleaning fluid, Tergo GCF, as recommended by our MicroCare precision cleaning experts. 

After a three-week period, a sample of the Tergo GCF was extracted to verify the absence of any lingering traces of nPB. None was detetced and the vapor degreaser continues to clean and dry parts without incident. 


This manufacturer's experience underscores the critical importance of thorough cleaning, neutralization, and passivation during a vapor degreaser fluid conversion. Neglecting these steps led to costly consequences, including machine corrosion, compromised performance, and safety hazards. However, after investing the time, effort, and resources into proper cleaning, the vapor degreaser is performing as intended.  

This parts manufacturer's experience is a reminder to seek professional advice from a cleaning fluid technical expert for optimal results. Remember, a smooth transition ensures the longevity and effectiveness of vapor degreaser equipment, safeguarding both your investment and operational integrity.