Step-by-Step: How to Clean Old Grease and Oil from Your Equipment

Why Clean Equipment of Grease and Oil is Crucial

When it comes to how to clean lubricant grease, the right approach can dramatically extend the life and efficiency of your machinery. To quickly address the search intent, here are some easy steps to get started:

  1. Use a scraper to remove excess grease.
  2. Apply a suitable solvent like brake cleaner or denatured alcohol.
  3. Scrub with a brush to loosen remaining grease.
  4. Rinse with warm water and dry with a microfiber cloth.

Keeping your equipment clean isn’t just about appearance—it’s about performance. Accumulated grease and oil can reduce the efficiency of your machinery, leading to more frequent breakdowns and costly repairs. Therefore, a consistent cleaning regimen is essential for maintaining productivity and longevity.

My name is Todd Cleppe, and I’ve spent over 25 years designing and improving industrial machinery systems. With expertise in how to clean lubricant grease, my goal is to help you maintain your equipment with straightforward, effective solutions.

Steps to Clean Lubricant Grease from Equipment - how to clean lubricant grease infographic pillar-5-steps

Understanding Grease and Oil on Equipment

When it comes to how to clean lubricant grease, understanding the different types and their sources is crucial. Grease and oil are essential for the smooth operation of machinery but can cause problems if not managed properly.

Types of Grease

Grease is typically composed of an oil and a thickener, and it may contain additional additives. The three main types of grease used in industrial settings are:

  1. Lithium-based Grease: Commonly used for its versatility and water resistance.
  2. Calcium-based Grease: Known for its excellent water resistance but not suitable for high-temperature applications.
  3. Polyurea Grease: Often used in electric motors due to its high-temperature stability and oxidation resistance.

Each type has specific applications and advantages. Knowing which grease is used in your equipment can help in selecting the right cleaning method.

Common Sources

Grease and oil can accumulate on equipment from various sources:

  • Lubrication Points: Bearings, gears, and other moving parts often require regular lubrication.
  • Leaks: Seals and gaskets can wear out, leading to oil leaks.
  • Overspray: During maintenance, excess lubricant can be sprayed onto surrounding surfaces.
  • Operational Residue: Normal operation can cause grease to spread and accumulate over time.

Accumulation Impact

Accumulated grease and oil can have several negative effects on machinery:

  • Reduced Efficiency: Grease and oil can attract dust and debris, leading to clogged parts and reduced operational efficiency.
  • Increased Wear: Excess lubricant can cause components to wear faster, leading to more frequent breakdowns.
  • Safety Hazards: Slippery surfaces can create safety hazards for workers.

Keeping your equipment clean not only improves performance but also extends its lifespan. In the next sections, we’ll explore effective methods to remove grease and oil, ensuring your machinery stays in top condition.

industrial machinery grease - how to clean lubricant grease

Next, we will delve into how to clean lubricant grease using various methods, including mechanical, chemical, and thermal approaches.

How to Clean Lubricant Grease: Pre-Cleaning Steps

Before diving into the cleaning process, it’s crucial to prepare properly. Follow these pre-cleaning steps to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Safety Precautions

Safety always comes first. Here are some key precautions:

  • Wear Protective Gear: Use gloves, protective eyewear, and long sleeves to protect your skin and eyes from chemicals.
  • Ventilate the Area: Ensure proper ventilation when using chemical solvents to avoid inhaling fumes.
  • Read Labels: Carefully read and follow the instructions on any cleaning products you use.
  • Avoid Open Flames: Many solvents are flammable. Keep them away from open flames and sparks.

Initial Assessment

Before you start cleaning, assess the situation:

  • Identify the Grease Type: Determine whether you’re dealing with light, medium, or heavy grease. This will influence your choice of cleaning method.
  • Check for Sensitive Components: Identify any parts that could be damaged by aggressive cleaning agents or methods.
  • Evaluate Accessibility: Ensure you can reach all areas that need cleaning. Some parts may require disassembly.

Gathering Materials

Having the right tools and materials on hand will make the job easier and more efficient. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Protective Gear: Gloves, goggles, and long sleeves.
  • Cleaning Agents: Solvents like brake cleaner, denatured alcohol, or a degreaser.
  • Tools: Scrapers, brushes, and non-abrasive cloths.
  • Containers: Buckets or trays for soaking parts.
  • Water Source: Access to warm water for rinsing.
  • Drying Materials: Microfiber cloths for drying surfaces.

By taking these pre-cleaning steps, you set the stage for a safe and effective cleaning process. Up next, we will explore the various methods to remove grease and oil, including mechanical, chemical, and thermal approaches.

Effective Methods to Remove Grease and Oil

When it comes to how to clean lubricant grease, there are several effective methods. These include mechanical, chemical, and thermal approaches. Each has its own advantages and best-use scenarios.

Mechanical Methods

Scraping is one of the most straightforward methods. Use a plastic scraper to avoid damaging surfaces. Scraping helps remove thick layers of grease and oil, making subsequent cleaning steps easier. For example, a tenant once used an unsuitable lubricant on a sliding door track, leaving a tar-like residue. Scraping out the bulk of this residue was the first step in resolving the issue.

After scraping, use brushes to tackle remaining grease. Wire brushes are great for metal surfaces but can be too harsh for more delicate materials. For those, soft-bristle brushes work well. Brushing helps dislodge grease from nooks and crannies.

Chemical Methods

Solvents dissolve grease and oil, making them easier to wipe away. Common options include brake cleaner, denatured alcohol, and isopropyl alcohol. For instance, brake cleaner is highly effective for cutting through grease and dries quickly, leaving a clean surface. It’s often used in automotive and industrial settings.

Commercial degreasers are specially formulated to break down grease. Products like Simple Green are non-toxic and effective. For a DIY approach, vegetable oil can be surprisingly effective. Just let it sit on the grease for 15-20 minutes before wiping off.

DIY Solutions:
Household items can also do the trick. Baking soda and dish detergent are excellent for smaller, less stubborn stains. Mix baking soda with a bit of water to form a paste, apply it to the grease, and scrub with a toothbrush.

Thermal Methods

Heat Application:
Heat can help soften and melt grease, making it easier to remove. A heat gun or even a hairdryer can be used to warm the grease. Once softened, you can wipe it away with a cloth. Be cautious with heat application to avoid damaging sensitive components.

Melting Techniques:
For heavy-duty applications, melting techniques can be very effective. For instance, heating the metal parts in hot water can help loosen the grease. After soaking, apply a degreaser and scrub the surface.

By understanding and utilizing these methods, you can effectively tackle even the toughest grease and oil stains. Next, we’ll walk you through a step-by-step guide for a thorough cleaning process.

How to Clean Lubricant Grease: Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Dry Wiping

Start by removing excess grease using non-abrasive cloths. This helps to minimize the amount of cleaning agent you’ll need later. Simply wipe the surface gently to pick up as much grease as possible.

Step 2: Applying Cleaning Agents

Selection of Solvents:

Choose the right solvent for your equipment. For instance, isopropyl alcohol is great for degreasing glass and metal, while WD-40 can serve as an effective degreaser for various surfaces.

Application Techniques:

Apply the solvent directly onto the greasy area. You can use a spray bottle for an even application or pour a small amount onto a cloth and dab it onto the surface. Let it sit for a few minutes to break down the grease.

Step 3: Scrubbing and Agitation

Tools to Use:

Use a toothbrush, damp sponge, or rag to scrub the area. For tougher stains, a scrubbing pad might be necessary.


Scrub in circular motions to lift the grease effectively. For stubborn spots, you may need to apply additional solvent and continue scrubbing.

Step 4: Rinsing and Drying

Water Types:

Use plain warm water for rinsing. Dip a fresh sponge or cloth in the water and wipe down the area to remove any residual solvent and loosened grease.

Drying Methods:

Use a microfiber cloth to dry the surface completely. This prevents water spots and ensures the surface is clean and ready for use.

Step 5: Post-Cleaning Care


After drying, inspect the equipment to ensure all grease has been removed. If any spots remain, repeat the cleaning process as necessary.

Preventative Measures:

To prevent future build-up, consider using splatter guards or lids when cooking greasy foods, and clean or change kitchen exhaust filters frequently. For industrial equipment, regular maintenance and proper lubrication practices are key.

By following these steps, you can keep your equipment clean and in optimal working condition. Next, we’ll discuss how to prevent future build-up of grease and oil.

Preventing Future Build-Up of Grease and Oil

Preventing future build-up of grease and oil is essential to maintain the efficiency of your equipment. Here are some effective strategies:

Regular Maintenance

Consistency is key. Regular maintenance ensures that grease and oil do not accumulate to problematic levels. Schedule routine inspections and cleanings based on the manufacturer’s recommendations. This helps catch any build-up early before it becomes a major issue.

Tip: For food processing equipment, consider using automatic CIP (Cleaning In Place) systems like those from Beth-El Machinery Ltd.. These systems offer efficient, recipe-controlled cleaning cycles that can handle multiple cleaning tasks simultaneously.

Proper Lubrication Practices

Using the right type and amount of lubricant is crucial. Over-lubrication can cause excess grease build-up, while under-lubrication can lead to equipment wear and tear.

  • Choose the right lubricant: Use lubricants that are designed for your specific equipment and operating conditions.
  • Apply correctly: Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the amount and frequency of lubricant application.

CFAB Global’s Machine Reliability Program

CFAB Global offers a comprehensive Machine Reliability Program that includes:

  • Regular inspections: Identifying potential issues before they become critical.
  • Customized maintenance schedules: Tailored to your equipment’s needs.
  • Training for staff: Ensuring everyone knows the best practices for equipment care.

By integrating these preventative measures into your routine, you can keep your equipment running smoothly and avoid the headaches associated with grease and oil build-up.


Regular cleaning of your equipment is not just a task; it’s an investment in your business’s efficiency and longevity. By keeping machinery free from old grease and oil, you ensure smoother operations, reduce downtime, and extend the lifespan of your equipment.

Benefits of Regular Cleaning:

  1. Enhanced Performance: Clean machinery operates more efficiently, leading to better productivity.
  2. Reduced Maintenance Costs: Preventative cleaning minimizes the need for costly repairs and replacements.
  3. Increased Safety: Regular removal of grease and oil reduces the risk of accidents and fire hazards.
  4. Longevity of Equipment: Consistent maintenance helps in prolonging the life of your machinery, saving you money in the long run.

At CFAB Global, we are committed to providing top-notch machinery solutions that help you maintain the highest standards of cleanliness and efficiency. Our Machine Reliability Program is designed to offer tailored maintenance schedules, expert training for your staff, and innovative cleaning solutions that meet your specific needs.

By partnering with CFAB Global, you gain access to a wealth of knowledge and resources, ensuring your equipment remains in peak condition. Our solutions, such as the CIP units from Beth-El Machinery Ltd., offer effective and economical cleaning options that enhance the lifespan of your machinery and improve overall operational efficiency.

Stay proactive with your cleaning routines and leverage CFAB Global’s expertise to keep your equipment performing at its best.

Next, we’ll address some frequently asked questions about cleaning lubricant grease.

Frequently Asked Questions about Cleaning Lubricant Grease

What are the safest solvents to use on sensitive machinery?

When dealing with sensitive machinery, it’s crucial to use safe solvents that won’t cause damage. Isopropyl alcohol is a popular choice because it effectively cuts through grease without harming most surfaces. It’s also relatively inexpensive and easy to find.

Vinegar is another safe option that’s effective due to its mild acetic acid content. It can break down grease and grime without being abrasive. Additionally, Simple Green is a non-toxic degreaser praised for its versatility and safety on various surfaces.

Brake cleaner can also be used but should be applied sparingly and in well-ventilated areas due to its strong fumes.

How often should industrial equipment be cleaned to prevent grease build-up?

The frequency of cleaning depends on the type of equipment and its usage. Generally, weekly cleaning is recommended for high-use equipment to prevent grease build-up. For less frequently used machinery, a monthly cleaning schedule might suffice.

Regular cleaning not only keeps the equipment running smoothly but also extends its lifespan. For critical machinery, consider enrolling in CFAB Global’s Machine Reliability Program to ensure optimal performance and maintenance.

Can household products be effective in cleaning heavy machinery grease?

Yes, household products can be surprisingly effective for cleaning heavy machinery grease. Dish soap mixed with hot water works well for initial cleaning. The hot water helps to dissolve the grease, while the soap breaks it down.

Baking soda can act as a mild abrasive for tougher spots. Vegetable oil can also be used to loosen old, caked-on grease before wiping it away.

For stubborn grease, WD-40 and rubbing alcohol are excellent options. They are easy to apply and can cut through thick layers of grease effectively.

For more detailed cleaning steps and materials, check out our Automated Lubrication System Solutions.

By understanding and utilizing these methods, you can keep your equipment in top condition with minimal effort.

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