What Is The Best Degreaser?

There are countless degreasers on the market today. Asking "Which is the best degreaser" isn't always the correct question. One should ask: "Which degreaser is best for the job I need it for?"

Degreasers vary in quality and in price. For many years, most degreasers were heavily acidic or heavily alkaline, these weren't the safest nor were they the best for the environment. Often times, these cleaners were over kill for the common household degreasing needs. The manufacturing of strictly caustic cleaners and solvents started to change with the release of Simple Green. As its name indicates, it's a simple and effective degreasing solution that is effective for most light house hold cleaning needs yet is friendly for the environment and safe to use compared to previous products.  

As with all products, others have moved into (and flooded) the market as well. From well-respected name brands to dollar store generic varieties, there are a few important things to look for and realize when researching degreasers:  

The term "Concentrated" is not a regulated phrase and is extremely subjective   

Virtually every degreaser on the market calls itself "Concentrated". This is very subjective. There are very weak, $1 variety degreasers that call themselves concentrated that have dilution directions that basically make it about as effective as colored water. The truth is, most degreasers you buy, concentrated or not, are already cut to some extent. It's a very subjective term, because it's all a matter of whether or not you can dilute it further to maximize your consumption while still getting the job done.  

Some argue a true concentrate needs to be mixed with water to work properly and in some cases concentrates are already cut to some extent because they don't work properly without adding water. Human nature being what it is and having dealt with weak degreasers before, its natural people will just use a product without cutting it. Cutting a degreaser with water is especially significant when dealing with surfactant based degreasers that rely on the addition of water to enhance the surfactant properties of the degreaser. This is not the norm with more degreasers purchased at places like Lowe's or Home Depot, however.  

 Dilution Ratios and Instructions published to help consumers, but sometimes mean little.   

It's natural that you'd want to know how to cut, or dilute a product. Many people often do want instructions on how to cut a product and even get a little upset when no instruction are provided. Truth is, in some cases, it is prudent to provide instruction for run of the mill cleaning duties. In most cases, it's a futile endeavor because there are countless variables within each application that throw off any suggested dilution suggestions for a cleaner or degreaser. It's not only dependent on what surface you are cleaning, but WHAT you are cleaning out of the surface. Cleaning up a spilled soft drink from a carpet will require substantially less cleaning product or degreaser than would cleaning up caked in mud on the same carpet fibers.  

 Water Soluble, biodegradable degreasers are usually the safest, but temper expectations   

There have been some remarkable strides made in safe, water soluble (water based) cleaners in recent years, much of which has been powered by the oil industry's needs for effective degreasing products that are safe for their employees and the environment. However, it's also necessary to remember that many old timers are generally used to very harsh cleaners. If you are used to using things like Naphtha, Diesel, and mineral spirits to clean things like automotive parts, you aren't going to be floored by safer cleaners. However, if you actually give the biodegradable, safe cleaners a chance, you'll probably learn to adjust to them and appreciate them for what they are.  

 Not all degreasers are made equal, nor are they all suited for the same tasks   

Degreasers can be developed and produced using different ingredients and technologies that can alter their usefulness in various applications. Fatty Acid based degreasers use organic fatty acids (derived from things such as coconuts) to break down grease (some of the best hand applied degreasers are often fatty acid based). Surfactant based degreasers work by lowering the surface tension between liquids and solids and allow dirt, grime and grease to be lifted from surfaces (surfactant based degreasers excel in pressure washing applications).  

Patience is indeed a Virtue   

The most common error people make when applying any degreaser is now allowing enough time for the degreaser to set in. 2-5 minutes is usually an acceptable set time except in extreme cases like some oilfield applications where 10-15+ minutes set time is not uncommon. This varies depending on the product being used, particularly in the oilfield and heavy industrial uses where they may be applying a concentrate directly, in which case wetting with water before applying the concentrate is important. True concentrates must have water added to activate the surfactants. Because of this, many industrial concentrates are cut with just enough water in the event that the user doesn't follow dilution instructions. 

The expectation of a degreaser working immediately, or without any set time is normally spawned from having used solvents and harsh chemicals prior to switching to a safer alternative. Safer degreasers can be effective if used properly.

Trial and Error Often Yields the Truth   

Which degreaser best meets your needs all depends on usage. Testing different application techniques on different jobs will give you experience and insight into what works and what doesn’t. In the end, you’ll get a feel for what products are worth buying and which ones aren’t worth bothering it.  


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 Degreasers on sale at Amazon:

Degreaser Name  Description - Amazon Reviews
Krud Kutter Highly rated at Amazon. All purpose.
Simple Green Crystal Industrial Odor and color free Industrial Grade Simple Green.
Goof Off Spot Remover/Degreaser
Oil Eater Advertised as safe grease dissolver. Best Amazon seller.
Purple Power Low priced degreaser available at many retail stores.
Finish Line Specializes in aerosal automotive sprays. Best Amazon seller.

Higher priced than other Amazon listings but good reviews. Industiral degreaser.

Stanley Degreaser Solid Amazon reviews.
Zep Industrial Degreaser Popular degreaser sold at many retail outlets.
CR Mean Grean Degreaser Good reviews. Sold at Amazon and at some retail outlets.
CLR Pro Grease Magnet No reviews but CLR is a trusted name brand
STP OOOMPH! Not many reviews but most are favorable.
Grime Reaper A few but good reviews. Dilutes 1 to 6-9 parts water.
Greased Lightening Long time degreaser with a following.
Meguires Degreaser Good ratings and a reputable brand.
LA's Totally Awesome Good budget degreaser.
Gunk S3 Dilutes with kerosene.
Super Clean Budget degreaser commonly found in auto retail stores.
Spray Nine Grez-Off Tons of favorable reviews. Made by Permatex.