What Is Aqueous Cleaning?

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  • Written By: Jackie Myers
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 26 March 2020
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Aqueous cleaning is water-based and involves using various cleaning methods to remove grease, dirt, and oil from parts and equipment. This form of cleaning is preferred for degreasing instead of using petroleum based solvents, as there is a smaller risk of hazardous exposure for workers. Aqueous degreasing methods utilize special equipment with biodegradable cleaning compounds to remove the oil. The aqeous cleaning process consists of a water-based cleaning step, followed by mutliple aqueous rinsing steps.

Switching to aqueous cleaning from solvent based systems significantly reduces or eliminates solid hazardous waste and air emissions. All wastewater from aqueous systems must be properly disposed or treated, and the cleaning solutions in an aqueous system must be chemically compatible with the part being cleaned. The water-based cleaning compounds used in aqueous cleaning, depend on agitation and heat to break dirt into tiny particles.

Spray cabinet cleaning units and microbial sink-top are two of the cleaning units used for aqueous cleaning. Aqueous spray cabinets clean equipment and parts by spraying high-temperature solvents at high pressures inside an enclosed cabinet. Experts recommend spray cabinets for parts with soil that is difficult to remove. It is ideal for reducing the amount of cleaning labor and offers a high level of cleaning performance.


Microbial sink top units are best for parts with light to moderate soil buildup. These units have filters that remove solid debris from the parts. Some of the advantages to using microbial sink top units for aqueous cleaning include low-capital costs and being able to avoid dry skin on hands. The microbe technology used in these sink top units rarely require cleaning solution disposal. Experts recommend only changing the solution when the cleaning performance declines.

An ultrasonic cleaning system, which is also an aqueous cleaning system, requires a transducer, tank, and generator. Transducers can be either be enclosed in a steel housing unit or bonded to the bottom of a tank. Waves produced by the transducers exert tremendous pressure to loosen soil in crevices and blind holes. Cleaning is accomplished by the process of cavitation, in which bubbles rapidly form and collapse in a liquid. These systems are ideal for removing contaminants from inside crevices, and it is the fastest and most economical method to wash parts.


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