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My Home Made, Water Based, Parts Washer

I “made” a parts washer out of an old dishwasher I got for free. It works really well and of course uses water plus a little simple green or the like. I have found a regular dish washing detergent with degreasing properties works well also.

It has a sanitize feature which gets the water up to 155 degrees for a bit and that really seems to help get stuff clean.

I just hook it up to a hot water supply and off she goes. (I have a hot, soft water supply in the garage for washing cars and the like)

To be fair I have not used it on really nasty greasy engine parts, mostly rc car parts, hubcaps, stuff like that.

It is a useful addition to my garage, I highly recommend it.

Years ago my uncle used to put wire hubcaps in the dishwasher when my aunt wasn’t home. They usually cleaned up nicely.

What do you do with the waste that comes out of the dishwasher?


Man, that’s gotta take up a lot of room. I just have no room to spare at this point. I do question using soft water for car washing though. If it kills grass, it can’t be good for rust prevention. I’ve got hot and cold water in my little shop adjacent to the garage but its non-softened, same as in the kitchen.

It goes in the septic tank. If I had a really nasty part I would clean it the best I could with brake cleaner and then put it in the parts washer. I would try to minimize the oil going into the septic tank.

How is dumping oil sludge down the kitchen sink and into the sewer or septic tank eco-friendly? If I were doing what you are I would save the wear and damage to the septic and just drain the dishwasher into the drainage ditch.

Shops may use harsher chemicals to clean but the wastewater or solvent stays on-site, and is collected and treated/disposed by a licensed hazardous waste handler. Probably not just dumped down the drain.

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It’ll kill the enzymes that allows a septic tank to work!


I have washed a variety of things for years with soft water, no rust issues. On things like my atv and mower that see no road salt they have absolutely no rust.

Our water is nasty old well water, really don’t have a choice but to soften it to use it for anything other than watering the garden.

Ive never actually used it on oil sludge encrusted anything yet. Like i said I would get the majority of it off before putting it in there.

So far I was hubcaps, Radio controlled car parts, stuff like that.

Hub caps have dirt. Radio parts have dust.

But a parts washer is self-contained because it removes petroleum.

Look up parts washer on the net.

Do you see a drain to the environment?

Your parts washer isn’t that ECO friendly.


Surely you have a parts washer at your jobsite . . . ?!

How is a little bit or residual oil going to kill my septic system? I have been washing nasty dirty oily clothes for years and never had an issue. I don’t put bleach in the septic that’s the biggest septic killer, and as I said I would use brake cleaner to remove most of the oil before putting say a valve cover in the washer.

Simple green is what i used when i put my mowers air filter housing in the washer, it worked well.

The soap I use is no different than what I already use in my washer or dishwasher, and any oil will float in the tank adding to the scum layer, I agree petroleum products are bad for a septic, but lets remember dawn dish soap and many others are petroleum products.

I do not think a minuscule amount of oil will hurt anything.

Yes, but its solvent based and I cannot use it to clean plastic parts, or plastic hubcaps.

Mainly I use the dishwasher for plastic items, such as various rc car parts like plastic chassis arms ect.

Ok, that wont hurt my septic system anymore than washing dirty clothes.

I have altered the title of the post to better reflect the fact that its not eco friendly, even though theoretically you could drink the discharge water and it would not kill you.

I wouldn’t even give that water to a dog or cat to drink

they probably wouldn’t touch it, anyways


How much Simple Green do you use?

Usually a few cups. I try to get it so the suds don’t get to high and cause the washer to overflow. Lately I have been using 7th generation dish washing detergent. It seems to work just as well

If the discharge water is clean enough to drink why are the parts being washed in the first place? They must be clean enough to eat off of!

I think there might also be a cumulative effect though. I mean that last non-filtered cigarette I smoked isn’t going to kill me, but added to the last 35,000 it might have an effect.


Rick, it’s your dime, but I can tell you that a new septic system is one heck of a lot more expensive than an ultrasonic automotive parts washer.

I wish you only the best. But I personally wouldn’t recommend dumping anything into a septic system other than what it’s intended for.

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Interesting option. We use industrial washers for cleaning circuit boards and certain mechanical parts at work. They use a special mix of de-ionized water, saponifiers, ph correctors and so on to get the right cleaning effect without damaging anything.

For home I will stick with my traditional parts washer for a couple of reasons; I use mineral spirits so it can handle the toughest of oils and greases and still get parts squeaky clean, the sediment collects in the bottom and can be drained off/recycled, the mineral spirits last many years before I have to go through a cleaning and replenishment (maybe a gallon every decade) and it doesn’t need a water supply/drain connection in the garage (it won’t freeze no matter what!).

Neighbor replaced their septic tank and leach field last year to a tune of $30,000