Simple Green causticity?

I know… this isn’t truly the best place. I should be going to Simple Green directly. :wink: But this is where I read and post, so here goes…

Simple Green’s marketing and instructions seem slightly at odds with one another. On one hand, the stuff is non-toxic (you can even consume it although you wouldn’t want to) and bio-degradable. On the other hand, they recommend not touching it or breathing the fumes.

I want to use the stuff (much easier to dispose of than acetone) but I don’t want to feel like I’m in a meth lab (or what I presume meth labs are like from watching Breaking Bad!) all the time, cautious about every little drop and the overall air quality of my work area.

Any thoughts? Are they mainly covering their bases here, or do you really want to avoid contact with it?

Semi-random related question: will it have a negative effect on nitrile gloves? I have a bunch of those around…

What you want to do is read the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). There are international standards on public access to critical information regarding chemicals used in the workplace and the home. In the USA the primary vehicle is the MSDS.

Fortunately, for you, Simple Green has their MSDSs online at:

They even have international versions available there. Simply select the exact product in question from the list on the site and you will get to read about the safety information of the product to your heart’s content!

Don’t thank me, thank your government for requiring access to this information!


1 Like

I’ll thank you anyhow. :wink:

There’s an added fragrance so I’m not sure it’d work too well with cleaning bearings without leaving behind a residue.

Have you tried it, Greg?

Now I know everyone is a critic, but with acetone, just take it outside and let it evaporate. It won’t take long! If you happen to have a little bearing cleaning pot or whatever you can even leave it on a window ledge which is what I go for. I’m sure this is what you do anyway, but I certainly wouldn’t try to dispose of it any other way!

It’s highly recommended by one Frank Difeo, whom you may have heard of from time to time.


I use simple green to clean bikes and parts, normally you dilute it with water. I normally use gloves with it but I have many times for many hours not used gloves without any ill effects. It will dry out your hands, because it removes grease very well.
I’m not sure I would use it on a bearing though. I have used it on bearing for bikes, but I put heavy grease back in those bearings.
I have found that nitrile gloves take the simple green just fine.
On the flip side I don’t like using acetone or anything of the sort unless I just have no other choice, which almost never happens. That stuff I would use gloves for, every time. I would avoid contact with my skin and if I did come in contact I would clean my hands very well right away. acetone is very flammable and bad for your lungs, you use it in a very caustic dilution, and it drys out your hands, and deteriorates gloves quiet fast.
That being said I still think for getting a bearing clean you are going to be better off useing acetone, or break/carb cleaners. Rather then simple green. Its nice but it isn’t going to leave behind nothing like the others.

Who? The senator?

Seems like okay stuff then, but it’s not like I’ve been having trouble with denatured alcohol. You shouldn’t be using a lot for your bearings anyways. Plus you can reuse it.

slowyojoe, the evaporating is a good tip. I think you might’ve shared it in the past, because I’ve been doing just that! But with unpredictable weather at this time of year, a 4-year-old who can reach whatever he wants, and an infant son who can’t get an everything but who would certainly TRY if I were careless… I just figured “hey, why not try it?”

If I’m being totally honest, it was really just an extra excuse to exercise the part of me that likes to putter. :wink:

In the dilution I used (about 1:4 SG to water) the solution has a detectable soapiness to it like most alkali solutions. It seemed like it would for sure leave a film, so I wouldn’t want to leave it to dry just after the cleaning phase. I rinsed the bearings off with some distilled water and blew the excess water out with canned air, finishing the job of drying by spinning on a chopstick for a while. Since I was adding lube in this case (I only rarely run anything dry, even ceramics) I was even less worried that there would be any sort of corrosion from the water. I mean, there was no water in the first place, but the lube gave me extra peace of mind for no truly logical reason that I can pinpoint ;).

The end result was a clean bearing. It wasn’t any better or worse than one cleaned with acetone or mineral spirits. The SG is mainly a degreaser, so the idea was to break down and wash through any residual lube from the last time it was maintained. Any grit/particles in there are removed more by the agitation and air blast than the solution itself. I find that’s the case with acetone, too.

So far, I’m not really noticing any truly significant difference between ANY of the methods, in terms of the final result. So it’s all about process and potentially safety. Acetone has the benefit of quick drying for the impatient. Mineral spirits are somewhat less dangerous than acetone and dry relatively quickly. Acetone you would need to evaporate or store and dispose of in accordance with regulations. Mineral spirits are best stored and disposed of properly. SG can be put down the drain or dumped into the garden/lawn/back field.

I suspect denatured alcohol would evaporate quickly. I’d definitely be willing to give it a try. Not sure where to find any! But it would carry similar ease-of-disposal benefits as SG, wouldn’t it? I’d imagine it can just go down the drain? Must to research.

At the end of the day, the SG was fine, but all the warnings (especially about respiration) just made me paranoid… kept the hood fan running and the door opened. So that was an inconvenience and a literal headache. Not sure I’m going to bother persisting with that method. But hey, I’ll have SG around in case I want to use it again, or use it for cleaning my tools ‘n’ stuff. I’m sure it won’t go to waste!