Vapor Degreasing As A Cost-Effective Cleaning Method

When selecting a parts cleaning method, facility managers must keep many factors in mind. One of the most pressing things to consider is the environmental impact of the method chosen, and the need to remain compliant with environmental protection regulations. However, cost containment is also always an essential consideration when selecting any industrial process.

Vapor degreasing is a tried-and-true parts cleaning solution that is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Despite the relatively high price of vapor degreasing solvents compared to water, the overall cost of vapor degreasing is often surprisingly low in comparison to other cleaning methods — and it can actually be a better choice for the environment as well. Here’s why.


4 Reasons Vapor Degreasing Can Reduce Your Parts Cleaning Overhead

  • The cost of water. In the 1990s and early 2000s, many facilities switched to aqueous cleaning methods in an attempt to find a more environmentally friendly parts cleaning solution. Since then, the cost of water has risen significantly. In many areas, water use restrictions are also in effect, which can limit water use. Finally, a hidden cost of aqueous cleaning is the need for acquisition and ongoing maintenance of water treatment equipment to ensure proper water quality for precision cleaning purposes. Taking all these things into account reduces the cost gap between solvent and water as cleaning solutions.
  • Solvent recovery. Another reason the cost of vapor degreasing is lower than you might expect given the price of solvent is that solvent recovery is built into the process. In vapor degreasing, the solvent is heated in a sump bath, creating a layer of vapor over the liquid solvent. This vapor is kept in place by refrigerant coils at the top of the unit. When warm vapor reaches the coils, it condenses back into liquid; this clean, distilled solvent is then returned into the sump, to be used over and over again. When proper care is taken to prevent unnecessary solvent loss (such as using a lid on the degreaser and taking steps to minimize dragout) this built-in solvent recovery makes vapor degreasing both an environmentally responsible and highly cost-effective solvent cleaning method.
  • Energy efficiency. One of the most significant hidden costs associated with aqueous parts cleaning is its high-power consumption. It takes a lot more energy to heat water than it does to boil solvent. A great deal of energy is also consumed in drying the parts, a step that is unnecessary in vapor degreasing. This is why switching from an aqueous cleaning system to a vapor degreaser can reduce energy consumption for parts cleaning by a factor of eight[AM1] .
  • Labor considerations. Once installed, a vapor degreaser requires almost no maintenance. Vapor degreasing is a quick and highly effective parts cleaning method that requires minimal training. This also helps keep the cost of vapor degreasing low compared to other precision parts cleaning methods.

Comparing the Cost of Vapor Degreasing vs. Other Precision Cleaning Options

How can you be sure vapor degreasing is a cost-effective solution for your facility? As with most cost containment measures, the best way to know for sure is to run the numbers. You’ll want to analyze the following for any method you are considering:

  • Equipment acquisition costs
  • Cost of water vresus solvent, and projected amounts used
  • Cost of waste disposal
  • Energy use
  • Cost of maintenance
  • Training costs
  • Time efficiency

One of the most variable factors in the list above is solvent cost. Many people think of environmentally responsible cleaning solvents as being cost-prohibitive, but they don’t have to be. We offer many budget-friendly and highly effective industrial cleaning solutions that are excellent for use in vapor degreasing applications.


If you would like help determining the cost of vapor degreasing for your facility, or to discuss cost-effective vapor degreasing solvent options, call us at 708-343-6641 — or contact us here today.