Prepping & Cleaning Surfaces Before Using PFPE
If you’re making the switch to PFPE grease from conventional grease, then you’re going to want to make sure that you thoroughly clean and degrease any component, surface, bearing, race, joint, o-ring or other surface before applying PFPE grease or lubricant. The tricky part in working with PFPE is that it is completely inert and doesn’t react or play well with other greases, lubes or chemicals. This a good thing, as long as you make sure to rid your surface or component of any trace of conventional lube/grease first.
If you’re using PFPE on a machined component, you’ll want to be especially mindful as many machined pieces are coated with corrosion inhibitors, cutting oils or other light oils designed to protect the component while in transit or storage. It is absolutely imperative to make sure this lube or oil is fully removed before lubricating with PFPE. Even if you’re not using PFPE grease, it’s important not to mix lubricants as they tend to be different thicknesses and will be inferior when combined.
Starting off, you’ll want to get your hands on solvent designed to degrease and remove petrolium products. These degreasers will also usually work well for removing corrosion inhibitors. Depending on how big the pieces/components you’re working with are, you might have to full submerge them in this solvent or use a brush and rag in order to manually apply the degreaser. Also if possible, gentle agitation tends to help remove remaining lubricants. If you’re degreasing bearings, we recommend a P-D-680 Type I (Stoddard) solvent and then using pressurized air to blow out and dry the bearings after degreasing.
Depending on what you’re cleaning, you might want to consider investing in an ultrasonic cleaner (though not recommended for pre-assembled precision metal bearings). These baths are great in that they fully submerge components and do most of the dirty work while you wait. Ultrasonic cleaners are great for removing hydrocarbon grease.
Lastly, we recommend rinsing your components with a fluorinated solvent like Freon TF. After rinsing, be sure to dry the piece with either pressurized or warm air.