Skip to main content

Tough stains and build-up are no match for a degreaser. Whether you are cleaning your brewing equipment, kitchen appliances, or workshop tools, a degreaser will make the job much more manageable and help you avoid using harsh chemicals. So, what is a degreaser?

What Is a Degreaser?

A degreaser is a cleaning agent that removes oils, greases, corrosion inhibitors, cutting fluids, and other built-up dirt from surfaces. They are often used in industrial and commercial settings, as they effectively break down tough grime. Degreasers can be found in various formulations, including liquids, solvents, aerosols, and foam.

Man degreasing a car engine part

The primary function of a degreaser is to dissolve grease and oil. This makes it an ideal choice for cleaning surfaces that have been exposed to cooking oils, animal fats, and petroleum products. Degreasers can also be used on tools and equipment that have been used in greasy or oily environments. 

Degreasers go by different names depending on their formulation. Liquid degreasers are also called all-purpose cleaners, while solvent-based degreasers are typically referred to as spot cleaners. Some degreasers, such as citrus-based degreasers, are marketed as being safe for use on food-prep surfaces. It all depends on the ingredients used in the degreaser.

How Does a Degreaser Work?

Degreasers work by breaking down the bonds that hold dirt, grime, and oil to surfaces. This is accomplished through various mechanisms, depending on the degreaser you are using.

One common mechanism is saponification, which occurs when degreasers come into contact with fats and oils. Saponification is a chemical reaction that breaks down fats and oils into soap and glycerin. This process effectively loosens dirt and grime, making it easy to wipe away.

Another mechanism used by degreasers is emulsification. This occurs when degreasers come into contact with water-based substances, such as food residue. Emulsification breaks these substances down into tiny droplets that can be easily rinsed away.

Why Do I Need a Degreaser?

Some tough stains and dirt can harm your surfaces if not removed properly. Harsh chemicals can also do more harm than good, eating away at surfaces and leaving them looking worse than before. This is where a degreaser comes in.

A degreaser can effectively clean surfaces without damaging them. That is why they are often used in commercial kitchens and other places where grease and oil are present. The following are other reasons why you should use a quality degreaser:

  • They are very effective at breaking down tough grime.
  • They can be used on a variety of surfaces, including metal, plastic, and glass.
  • They are available in different formulations to suit your needs.
  • They can be used in both industrial and commercial settings.
  • They are often safer than harsh chemicals, making them ideal for food-prep surfaces.

When selecting a degreaser, it is crucial to choose one designed for the type of surface you are cleaning and the amount of grime you need to remove. For example, citrus-based degreasers are non-toxic and safe for use on food-prep surfaces, while solvent-based degreasers are better suited for heavy-duty cleaning jobs.

Man showing his greasy hands

Different Types of Degreasers

Degreasers come in several different forms. The most common degreasers are alkaline, solvent-based, and enzymatic.

Alkaline Degreasers

Alkaline degreasers are typically made with caustic soda, also known as sodium hydroxide. These degreasers are very effective at breaking down oils and greases. However, they can also be corrosive and damaging to surfaces if not used properly.

Alkaline degreasers are used in the following industries:

  • Automotive
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Oil and gas

Solvent-Based Degreasers

Solvent-based degreasers are made with petroleum-based solvents. These degreasers effectively break down oils and grease to clean surfaces. The following are the sectors where you can find uses for this type of degreaser the most:

  • Automotive
  • Oil and gas
  • Rail
  • Aviation
  • Marine
  • Mechanical
  • Power

It is important to note that the chemical composition of these degreasers are hazardous. They should only be used in well-ventilated areas and with the proper safety equipment.

Enzymatic Degreasers

Enzymatic degreasers are made with enzymes that break down oils and greases. These degreasers are safe to use on most surfaces and are biodegradable. Enzymatic degreasers are the most popular degreaser used in household cleaning products.

The following are the sectors where you can find uses for this type of degreaser the most:

  • Foodservice
  • Restaurants
  • Hospitals
  • Schools

The advantage of enzymatic degreasers is that they are safe to use around people and animals. Having said that, they are not as effective as other degreasers at breaking down oils and greases.

Man spraying a degreaser to a car part

How to Choose the Right Degreaser

When choosing a degreaser, it is important to consider the following factors:

  • The type of surface you will be cleaning
  • The type of grease or oil you need to remove
  • The safety hazards of the degreaser
  • The environmental impact of the degreaser
  • The cost of the degreaser

With so many different types of degreasers on the market, it can be challenging to choose the right one for your needs. Tough stains require a stronger degreaser, while delicate surfaces need a gentler option.

Your health and safety should always be your top priority when choosing a degreaser. Make sure to read the labels carefully and follow all safety instructions when using any type of degreaser.

Related Questions

What Is the Example of a Degreaser?

One example of a degreaser is trichloroethylene, which removes grease from metal parts. Other examples include kerosene and mineral spirits, which are used to remove oil-based paints and adhesives.

What Are the Dangers of Degreasers?

Degreasers can be very dangerous if used improperly. They should always be used in well-ventilated areas and with the proper safety equipment. Some degreasers are also flammable and should be kept away from heat or open flames.

What Is the Most Powerful Degreaser?

The most powerful degreaser is solvalene, which removes grease from metal parts. It is an industrial-strength degreaser that should be used with caution.


Degreasers are a great way to clean your home or office. They are easy to use and can be found at most hardware stores. Getting the best degreaser for your needs is best to keep your surfaces clean and free of dirt and grime. 

Skip to content