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wholberg's Avatar
 
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Simple Green

Hello everyone,

I have a new (to me) '87 TL Targa, and want to degrease and detail the engine. I performed a search on the board and found that Simple Green is a popular cleaner. I will use this "nontoxic" cleaner on my engine, but after reading some older posts on the board, I want to share the following comments (I am a chemist, so that is the basis for my comments):

The active ingredient in simple green is 2-butoxyethanol (percentage unknown and all of the other ingredients are secret).

2-butoxyethanol may be slightly acidic in water, but if it is applied to aluminum or magnesium wet, scrubbed and then rinsed with copius amounts of water while still wet, it should be fine (no etching or corrosive damage).

In almost all cases, acidic or basic corrosion can be halted by scrubbing with a saturated sodium bicarbonate solution, then rinsing well.

Simple green is stated to be "nontoxic" by the manufacturer, however 2-butoxyethanol in undiluted form is toxic by ingestion, inhalation and skin absorption. It is diluted in Simple Green, and the product can, in my opinion, be used quite safely with the following precautions: Wear nitrile (not latex) gloves, and wear a respirator if spraying the material under high pressure, causing it to aerosolize in the work area.

Additional information for the hypochondriacs:

Simple Green: The active ingredient for these products is 2-butoxyethanol, an industrial solvent for grease and oil, that is a chronic and severe acute health hazard, according to the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (1977). "Butyl cellosolve" or 2-butoxyethanol causes eye, ear, throat, and respiratory tract irritation; coughing; runny nose; central nervous system effects such as headache, dizziness, and nausea; blood disorders such as *hemolytic anemia; and kidney damage (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry 1998). * hemolytic anemia in this case would be premature destruction of red blood cells caused by chemical poisoning.

The MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) link is below. Worry about this if you are taking regular baths in Simple Green.

http://www.valdezlink.com/inipol/pages/2-butoxy_msds.htm



I hope this information is useful. Chemicals are just tools to be used with appropriate precautions.

Cheers.
Old 01-21-2005, 08:09 AM
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I used copious amounts of this cleaner during my restoration with basically good results. I also had one of those little steam cleaners that you see advertised. It looks like a coffee pot with a trigger. It shoots out a nice stream of steam. The combination of cleaner and steam cleaned most things up with ease.
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Old 01-21-2005, 08:35 AM
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Jerry - I have seen those little steam clenaers in some mags but thought maybe it was a gimmick. You like how they work and recommend them?
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Old 01-21-2005, 08:46 AM
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Jerry, since you have done this, is there anything I need to take particular care with when cleaning the engine in the vehicle?
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Old 01-21-2005, 09:44 AM
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Go Pack! NCSU Alum in Chemistry here.

yes simple green can corrode Al and Mg parts. I have used it many times. Just rinse with water or even steam. I too have used one of those steam cleaners with good (but not great) results. they will lift the light residue but not caked on goo.

The other option is solvents but then you have to worry about VOCs in the air and lungs (eyes).

Everything has its risks just take the correct precautions.

Regarding your engine make sure to cover the electronics (on the left) and intake with plastic or Al foil. Then wet down the engine with your favorite cleaning product, let it sit for a bit, scrub stubborn areas and then rinse away. Wipe clean and then go for a drive. The heat will dry the engine in no time.

have fun.
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Old 01-21-2005, 09:51 AM
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Since USAF no longer allows use of Simple Green on Al parts, does anybody know what they _are_ using?
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Old 01-21-2005, 11:30 AM
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The best non-corrosive and non-toxic solvent degreaser is the Orange oil citrus based products. Doesn't need water rinse after spray on and wipe off. just need plenty of paper towels like bounty.
Old 01-21-2005, 12:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by tshih
The best non-corrosive and non-toxic solvent degreaser is the Orange oil citrus based products. Doesn't need water rinse after spray on and wipe off. just need plenty of paper towels like bounty.
There are a lot of different D-limonene cleaners on the market that have varied percentage of oil/solvent, check the MSDS sheet. They can also be fairly acidic and should always be washed off, they can also cause an allergic reaction in some folks as well as getting really nasty if they spoil. Personally I use both Citrus based and simple green to remove things, just depends upon whats on the shelf, but prefer the simple green.
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Old 01-21-2005, 12:33 PM
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I used an Orange Citrus cleaner I bought at Costco and it worked great. Elbow grease will determine the results.
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Old 01-21-2005, 12:38 PM
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I've been hand washing my fuchs with simple green for a year with no apparent damage. Could it harm the OEM anodized finish? I will say I have a small paint chip on one of the front wheels and it hasn't worsened at all in the past year.
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Old 01-21-2005, 01:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by randywebb
Since USAF no longer allows use of Simple Green on Al parts, does anybody know what they _are_ using?
Randy,

When I get to work next week I'll ask the guys in the shops.
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Old 01-21-2005, 02:44 PM
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Anodizing creates a coating of aluminum oxide on the exterior surface of aluminum. Aluminum oxide is very inert and non-reactive. While it can be damaged with extremely strong acids or bases, a mild solvent like simple green should not damage Fuchs wheels with intermittent exposure.

Your Fuchs should be fine unless you throw them in a drum of simple green and leave them for a couple of months.
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Old 01-21-2005, 03:45 PM
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simple green.. its people! its people!
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Old 01-21-2005, 03:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Hoffman912
simple green.. its people! its people!
That's what jumps into my mind too every time I hear or see it.
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Old 01-21-2005, 04:18 PM
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That's soilen green ala Aldos Hucksley?

Wurth Citrus Cleaner has been recommended by John Paterek (well known Porsche restorer) for all interior and exterior cleaning (spray on wipe off). It's a bit pricey that's all. Degreasing the engine is easily done by spraying on and wiping organic solvents like hexanes or toluene. JUST be aware that you should do it on a cold engine with a fire extinguisher handy since these solvents are extremely flammable and toluene is toxic to breathe (should do it outdoors in the open for ventilation and fire hazards). Same flammablity issues for citrus sprays/cleaners, although some have been diluted with water and contains surfactants and detergents.
Old 01-21-2005, 04:48 PM
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I used simple green several years ago on some anodized bicycle parts (Campy). I mistakenly left it on to long and it spotted the finish. I suspect that left on wheels it could do the same but would need to be left on for an extended period.
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Old 01-21-2005, 05:30 PM
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Simple green was a great prep prior to refinishing my Fuchs. Worked well and the finish took to the alloys well
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Old 01-21-2005, 05:53 PM
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I have had good luck as a cleaner. I was told to rinse it well as it might eat the finish off of my cad coated weber linkage. Just dont let it sit for more than a few min then rinse well
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Old 01-21-2005, 08:27 PM
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the best degreaser I have used is the Mopar Brake cleaner. It contains heptane as the active ingrediants. I do not think it is caustic on aluminum or magnesium. It is only 2.99 a can. I have been using this and stoddard solvent on my current rebuild on my magnesium cased 915 tranny and 2.7 L engine. Just wear a respirator with organic filters,eye protection, and rubber gloves.
Old 01-22-2005, 06:50 AM
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There is a spray product called....."Spray-Nine" It is used exclusively for grease removal in the auto industry. I use it in my shop for wiping off grease or grease stains from paint, interior, etc..

It is an excellent product for de-greasing engine compartments and components. It does not attack the surface, just chemicaly breaks down the oil and grease.

Should be available at most grocery or auto supply stores and is very reasonbly priced. This coupled with a steam cleaner will yield excellent results with no worry of acid damage.
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Old 01-22-2005, 07:25 AM
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