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Hot water pressure washer vs. steam cleaner for grease.

Doug580l

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Apr 15, 2018
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Southern Illinois
Is there much difference between a hot water pressure washer (Approx. 180 degrees) and a steam cleaner? It would be used mainly for cleaning grease and grime off of equipment.

Thanks,
Doug
 

willie59

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In most cases hot high pressure washers work fine removing oil and grease. Of course steam works better to dissolve grease and oil, but the problem with a true "steam" cleaner is steam requires a different hose, it's much thicker and bulkier than a typical pressure washer hose, much more cumbersome to drag around and over things doing cleaning, and you also don't have the pressure jet spray with steam like you have with a hot high pressure washer.
 

Doug580l

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Apr 15, 2018
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Southern Illinois
Thanks for the reply. I purchased what I thought was a steam cleaner but it only reaches 180 degrees. Kind of a misleading description. https://www.zoro.com/mi-t-m-light-d...ic-pressure-washer-gh-1502-0ga10s/i/G8493877/ It does a pretty good job cleaning but it leaves clumps of grease all over the ground where cleaning. I am considering returning it and getting one that gets hotter and would dissolve the grease better.
 

Birken Vogt

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Grass Valley, Ca
The steam cleaner I used to use had as much jet spray as any pressure washer. 300 degrees but the water did not evaporate until it had spent some time blasting pretty good. But it was a big industrial contraption and stationary. I also had a commercial water heater at one place and would turn it up to 180 (max) and run that through an ordinary pressure washer. Not good on the pump I'm sure but it got stuff clean.

A real steam cleaner is still going to leave chunks on the ground. Its job is to get the equipment clean, not to make the dirt disappear.
 

Doug580l

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Southern Illinois
The steam cleaner I used to use had as much jet spray as any pressure washer. 300 degrees but the water did not evaporate until it had spent some time blasting pretty good. But it was a big industrial contraption and stationary. I also had a commercial water heater at one place and would turn it up to 180 (max) and run that through an ordinary pressure washer. Not good on the pump I'm sure but it got stuff clean.

A real steam cleaner is still going to leave chunks on the ground. Its job is to get the equipment clean, not to make the dirt disappear.
Good Point. Unfortunately, the area where I have to wash the equipment is in an area where people (me mostly) walk through and end up dragging grease into the house. I try cleaning it up but always seem to miss some.
 

Welder Dave

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Canada
I know a guy who has Hotsy and Landa hot water pressure washers that when turned to the max temp produces steam. With steam you can never have the same pressure as with water. I would think that what ever you used is still going to leave clumps of grease if there is clumps on the machine. Grease doesn't evaporate like water.
 

Doug580l

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Messages
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Location
Southern Illinois
I know a guy who has Hotsy and Landa hot water pressure washers that when turned to the max temp produces steam. With steam you can never have the same pressure as with water. I would think that what ever you used is still going to leave clumps of grease if there is clumps on the machine. Grease doesn't evaporate like water.
Makes sense. I have one particularly greasy-oily backhoe. Maybe after I get most of the old grease and oil cleaned off of it, it won't leave such a mess on the ground during future cleanings.
 

willie59

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Makes sense. I have one particularly greasy-oily backhoe. Maybe after I get most of the old grease and oil cleaned off of it, it won't leave such a mess on the ground during future cleanings.

And therein is the key, a heavily soiled greasy grimy machine "is" going to make a mess on the ground upon cleaning, don't matter if you use hot water, steam, or a nuke blast whereas machines that are already relatively clean, just oily, dirty, and some grease, not near as bad and a hot high pressure washer will help keep it that way without using steam
 

Doug580l

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Messages
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Southern Illinois
And therein is the key, a heavily soiled greasy grimy machine "is" going to make a mess on the ground upon cleaning, don't matter if you use hot water, steam, or a nuke blast whereas machines that are already relatively clean, just oily, dirty, and some grease, not near as bad and a hot high pressure washer will help keep it that way without using steam
Thanks. I will keep the hot pressure washer I have and thoroughly clean the entire backhoe and then regularly wash it and keep it clean after that. I have been using a cold pressure washer and just cleaning the areas when I needed to work on it like changing a hose, pins, etc.
 

willie59

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Thanks. I will keep the hot pressure washer I have and thoroughly clean the entire backhoe and then regularly wash it and keep it clean after that. I have been using a cold pressure washer and just cleaning the areas when I needed to work on it like changing a hose, pins, etc.

Totally agree with you there. Fact, the difference between cold pressure washer and hot high pressure is night and day even before you enter the world of steam. :cool:
 

westerner

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Sep 30, 2020
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Northern Arizona
We had a stationary pressure washer with a heater coil as big as a 55 gallon drum, heated with enough natural gas to fog your glasses, regardless of weather.
A well meaning but ignorant apprentice fired it up to clean the 966H with the Lincoln autolube set maybe a smidge too high.
The most lasting effect was clumps of grease spread EVERYWHERE. All over the loader's glass, all over the walls of the washbay, all over the floors, and all over our hero.
 

skyking1

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washington
I physically scrape off the big deposits of grease and gunk, scraping the stuff off my scraper into a cardboard box that goes in the dumpster. It saves a lot of nasty stuff getting blown all over the equipment and ground. Example: This area was loaded with grease oil and needles/leaves/fir cones about 1.5" deep. If I laid into that pocket with a pressure washer I would wear it all.
PXL_20220512_190731849.jpg
 

Truck Shop

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Try pressure washing a bell housing-grease mixed with clutch dust-800,000 miles worth. Your washing
a bowl-no way to get away from it.
 

JLarson

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Aug 23, 2020
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AZ
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One the 0 degree turbo nozzles on a hot washer really takes off the grease. Even with a cold water washer the turbo nozzles really do some damage, we use one on our 3,800 psi cold all the time in the field cause it's easy to load in the truck.
 

JD955SC

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If I had my way we’d have a steam unit at work. We have a complete POS “hot” water pressure washer that gets slightly warm (when it decides it’s going to heat up at all)
 

treemuncher

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From what I read of the specs on the unit that was purchased, I think you need more pressure and more flow to clean greasy equipment better. From what I've learned over the years, 4 GPM @ 4K psi is a good choice. You can always turn the pressure down for sensitive areas. A good degreaser like Citrol will break down the chemicals for faster removal and cleaner results.

I run a large hot water unit that heats to 180 F and 4 GPM @ 4000 psi which works well most of the time. Pretty much the same as this unit listed on the web. Not a high priced unit but works good for hours at a time.
37591696_2.jpg

If it is really greasy, I skip heating the hot water and run the discharge through the "Hot Box" that produces steam. Can't see much with steam on a colder day but it surely cleans off heavy grease/oil residue much quicker. My truck's PTO mounted pressure washer is cold water only but I can also run that through the hot box when I need steam on a site. It has a variable temp control so it's anything from warm water to blistering 230 F steam.
157495_18_2000x2000.jpg
 

Welder Dave

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Canada
You also have to be careful no matter what you use. You don't want to damage parts from too high a temperature, damage the paint or worse, force grease out and water in bearings and bushings. Washing dirt bikes, for example, some people have no clue. They put the nozzle too close and draw grease out of the suspension linkage allowing water in to replace it. It's pretty common for kids to not think too much and blast water down the muffler/silencer destroying the packing inside. On a 2 stroke especially it's very easy to tell who needs new silencer packing. Equipment might be a little more forgiving but you still have to be cautious with a washer. One thing you never want to do is blast away at engines with ECM's and electronics. I've read on here of people having constant problems because the wiring and electronics got wet.
 

Doug580l

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2018
Messages
301
Location
Southern Illinois
From what I read of the specs on the unit that was purchased, I think you need more pressure and more flow to clean greasy equipment better. From what I've learned over the years, 4 GPM @ 4K psi is a good choice. You can always turn the pressure down for sensitive areas. A good degreaser like Citrol will break down the chemicals for faster removal and cleaner results.

I run a large hot water unit that heats to 180 F and 4 GPM @ 4000 psi which works well most of the time. Pretty much the same as this unit listed on the web. Not a high priced unit but works good for hours at a time.
37591696_2.jpg

If it is really greasy, I skip heating the hot water and run the discharge through the "Hot Box" that produces steam. Can't see much with steam on a colder day but it surely cleans off heavy grease/oil residue much quicker. My truck's PTO mounted pressure washer is cold water only but I can also run that through the hot box when I need steam on a site. It has a variable temp control so it's anything from warm water to blistering 230 F steam.
157495_18_2000x2000.jpg
 
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