Regularly cleaning tools and machines is an important part of maintaining the health, quality, and life of metal tools. Cleaning metal will increase the functionality of tools, prevent future damage, and maintain the appearance of the metal. This process will often use a variety of strong acidic and basic chemicals. These chemicals have the potential to harm the environment, so proper use and care is needed when handling them.
With this in mind, many companies now offer more environmentally safe products to clean metal. Heavy-duty industrial cleaners are now being made with water-based solvents that can be used with a wide variety of metals. This is good news, because the base chemical of a cleaner is often the most damaging and harmful to the environment. Since water is a natural compound, being able to clean metals with chemicals that react well in water is an environmentally friendly step for metal cleaners.
Metal polishing is also an acceptable metal maintenance practice. Finishing a piece of metal with a polish coating will protect the metal and help reduce the use of other, stronger alternatives. To properly polish a piece of metal, for give the metal a simple wash before applying a polish. The type of polish used depends on what metal you are working with. Some jobs can be done with simple solvents like water and olive oil, but others, like stainless steel, tend to be a bit trickier. To clean stainless steel, use a slightly abrasive buffer pad to apply professional grade, non-wax stainless steel polish. Lightly apply the polish to a buffer pad and buff the metal in small, circular motions.
Cleaning aluminum is as simple as wiping the metal with water and a light detergent to remove surface debris. Then use a hose and another light, all-purpose metal solvent to clean the aluminum. Finally, wipe the metal with a lightweight rag and allow it to air dry.
Brass takes a little more effort to clean, since it is a high quality, shiny metal, but taking the care to clean it correctly is worth the effort. Give the brass a preliminary cleaning with simple soap and water. Next, carefully remove the lacquer coating with a paintbrush and varnish remover. Apply brass polishthinly and evenly with cotton balls or another, smaller paintbrush. When the shine returns to the brass, wipe it thoroughly with a soft cloth.
Cleaning and maintaining metals no longer has to conflict with protecting our environment. Take advantage of the many environmentally safe cleaning products, or seek simple, natural sources for cleaning so we can all enjoy a healthy environment.