Answered by Master Screen Printer, Douglas Grigar of www.thegrendel.com
I have read on the Internet that I may be able to use commonly available chemicals to degrease screens. For example, some people suggest janitorial degreasers for degreasing screens. Can I actually switch to locally available chemicals and save a little money?
The answer to this question is a little more complicated than a simple yes or no, or the recommendation of chemicals from a local home-improvement store. As far as degreasers for screen cleaning, yes there are over-the-counter (OTC) chemicals such as janitorial products that will work in a pinch for limited use.
The complicated part to this answer is that none of the OTC products work as well as degreasers made specifically for processing screen printing screens. I have worked with, and talked to many large shops, consultants, and industry advisors about their testing on this subject. That research combined with my own testing leads me to the conclusion that different commonly available chemicals to degrease screens have different levels of usefulness.
When considering commonly available chemicals to degrease screens, the least desirable option would be dishwashing detergents. These products have so many additives for pleasant home use that they are, for the most part, a waste of time to use as screen degreaser.
In the mid-range are the janitorial chemicals, with some of the citrus-based products performing the best out of these choices.
At the top end, the best chemicals are the modern formulas made by reputable chemical companies specifically for the purpose of cleaning screens.
The third and final part of this answer regards commonly available chemicals to degrease screens relates to saving money and using safe products. Often, alternative chemicals may seem less expensive up front, but when you add in the fact that they often must be used full strength and in large amounts for reasonable results, the expected saving trickle down the drain in more ways the one.
Many OTC chemicals are less “green” than industry-specific versions, and often have chemicals that are quite harmful, tightly controlled, or even illegal for repeated industry use.
So, my final answer is both a yes and a no. But, as with all the individual phases of the screen printing process, there are many deeper and unexpected factors that must be considered.