A step-by-step guide to Cleaning Metalcutting Machinery

If you want to clean out a machine tool sump so you can recharge with fresh metalworking fluid, then this blog is  for you.

It would be really easy to clean out machine sumps – except for all those parts that are so hard to reach. You can’t use heat, you can’t use really aggressive chemicals, and you can’t scrub parts you can’t reach.
Things you need to do a good machine clean-out are:

a specialty machine cleaner like:

  • Master STAGES Whamex and Whamex XT (Use Whamex with emulsions; use Whamex XT for synthetics and semisynthetics to avoid foaming.)
  • advanced planning


  • You can do it the old-fashioned way – using lots of time, labor, and elbow grease.

The TACT equation for machine cleanouts looks like this:
T + A + C + T = CLEAN

  1. TIME – Machine downtime is really expensive (and so is direct labor). So, unless you can clean while the machine is still running production, you need to clean as fast as possible.
  2. AGITATION – It’s almost impossible to get in and scrub out all those hidden areas, coolant lines, pumps, and such.
  3. CHEMICAL ACTION – This is the most important part of machine clean- ing. That’s because the other parts of
  4. TACT are so limited. Your cleaner has to attack the oils, bio-films, scums,
  5. and other nasty stuff quickly and at low temperatures. At the same time, it can’t attack machines, machinists, or the parts being made.
  6. TEMPERATURE–Whenmachineclean- ing, you’re pretty much limited to “room temperature.” It can be worse if you are using cold tap water to charge up.

Now you know the limits. Here are things you can do to make machine cleanouts faster, easier, and better:

  1. Add Whamex or WhamexXT to your machine before the cleanout, and run machine and pumps as much as you can. Before you do this, be sure to have some CLEAN DF1 in case some foaming pops up  Many users add 3% - 5% Whamex or Whamex XT to their coolant and continue making parts for 24 hours or more.
  2. Spray Whamex into really dirty areas using a spray bottle or garden sprayer. You can foam dirty exterior parts with The Whammer.  Power washers and steam wands do a great job of cleaning, but NEVER use them around bearings, motors, controls, or gear boxes. Also be very careful around electrical connections and control cabinets. Overspray and mist from these units can be irritating, so use only mild, operator-friendly products like Whamex, Whamex XT, Task2TM or CLEAN F2.
  3. Tear down as much of the machine as you can to expose hidden dirty areas. Chip conveyors are really great places for residue and biomass to hide, so pull and clean them if at all possible. Pay extra attention to the area between the upper and lower belt. Rod out any chips from T-slots or under fixtures. Get all the chips and swarf out of hidden areas. Don’t forget the quick-change tool holders either.
  4. Rinse off exterior surfaces into the machine sump if you can. Suck out all dirty fluid with your Master Chemical XYBEX Yellow-Bellied Sump SuckerTM (YBSS) and recycle or dispose.
  5. Fill the machine sump with enough water to run all pumps and lines. Add 3%- 5% Whamex or Whamex XT your system, depending on how much soil needs to be removed. Circulate the cleaner solution through all the pumps and lines so the cleaner reaches room temperature. Wear protective eyegear and gloves and, using the solution in the sump, manually wash down the machine surfaces. Continue the process until the machine is clean. Use your YBSS again to suck out the sump.
  6. To rinse, circulate tap water through all the lines and rinse down all machine surfaces. NOTE: Rinsing will remove all or most of the rust inhibitors, so proceed with Step 7 as soon as possible.
  7. When you recharge your machine with fresh coolant, there will probably be some dirty, used fluid trapped inside pumps and lines. Try to catch the first few gallons of circulating fluid in a bucket, so it can be disposed of or recycled (and doesn’t contaminate your fresh new charge).

Checking Whamex or Whamex XT Compatibility
Just follow these easy steps:

  1. Take a sample of coolant from the machine sump into a clean, glass jar with a tight lid.
  2. Add Whamex or Whamex XT to the sample in the right ratio. Example: A one-quart moonshine jar, two-thirds full, would take about 1 oz. (small shot) of Whamex or Whamex XT concentrate to be at 5%.
  3. Shake up this mixture and see how much foam you get. (You may need to add CLEAN DF1 to your central system if it is really foamy.)
  4. Let the sample sit overnight and see if it looks the same the next morning. If it doesn’t, contact your D&L Industrial representative & we'll find a solution with Master Chemical and even get one of their engineers to come in for on-site help.

Watch for our next article "Cleaning out Central Coolant Systems"

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