The Ultimate Guide To Replacing TCE Degreasers & Cleaning Fluids

Many companies want to change from TCE (Trichlorethylene) to newer, safer cleaning fluid alternatives. TCE is a powerful and effective industrial cleaner and degreaser. However, it is proven to be hazardous to people and the planet. Therefore, many are turning to the experts at MicroCare to find a suitable substitute for trichlorethylene.  There are a number of trichlorethylene replacement options available that will not only provide the cleaning performance required, but can do it safely and economically. MicroCare chemists and field engineers have the critical cleaning expertise you need and can help you smoothly transition from TCE to a newer, safer TCE replacement.

The Cost of Using TCE

Many companies may still consider using TCE despite its harmfulness. TCE is less expensive than the trichlorethylene replacement cleaning fluids on the market today. TCE is also versatile and very effective in a variety of applications in many industries.  These may seem like good reasons to continue using TCE. However, the hazards of using TCE surely outweigh the benefits.

Human Risk & Toxicity

Human Risk & Toxicity

TCE may cause serious illnesses including cancer. Workers are typically exposed to TCE through inhalation and skin contact. Inhalation is the most common form of workplace exposure, but skin contact is another major route of exposure in the workplace.

Limited, short-term exposure to TCE can cause non-life-threatening side effects for humans like dizziness, fatigue, headaches, upset stomach, skin rashes and irritation to the eyes and throat.
The risk is greater for workers exposed to TCE on a regular basis or for long periods of time. Through chronic exposure, TCE may cause damage to the central nervous system, kidneys, liver, immune system, reproductive system, and to the developing fetus. TCE is also known to cause cancer in both humans and animals.


Environmental Problems
Special Maintenance

The Cost to Switch to a
TCE Replacement

A note of caution. Be careful not to evaluate TCE replacement fluids simply by cost alone. TCE is inexpensive with the safer replacements often costing much more on a per gallon or per pound basis.

However, there are savings to be had with the TCE replacements in other areas. For instance, many of the TCE replacement fluids, when used in a proper vapor degreaser can be used and recycled hundreds of times with little cleaning fluid loss.

In addition, the benefits of employee well-being, a pleasant working environment and good worker morale are immeasurable.


Replacing Trichlorethylene

Many companies are looking for a substitute for trichlorethylene in their critical cleaning processes. They want a TCE replacement that is just as effective as TCE, but with a better safety profile to help protect their workers, safeguard the environment and reduce their regulatory reporting burden.

Fortunately, there are a variety of trichlorethylene replacement cleaning fluids on the market today that can fulfill all those requirements. They meet almost any industrial cleaning requirements while helping companies maintain or even improve their cleaning processes. Plus, the trichlorethylene replacements hold several other advantages.

Choosing the Right TCE Replacement

There are many substitutes for trichlorethylene that are people-safe, planet-safe and affordable.  The best substitute for trichlorethylene for you will depend on a few different factors.

First, determine the contamination. Are you cleaning flux paste and solder residues from circuit boards? Or are you degreasing metals part in preparation for finishing? Lubricants, dust, metal particulate, fingerprints, waxes or other residues must be removed prior to processing or assembly. The common need is to clean components prior to painting, plating, welding or subsequent processing.  The type of contamination you face will help dictate which trichlorethylene replacement cleaning fluid will work best.  

Second, identify the material. What is the substrate you are cleaning? Whether it be plastic, metal, ceramic or any other type of material, there are TCE replacement cleaning fluids available. Matching the correct fluid to the substrate will ensure the fluid will safely displace soils without causing detrimental effects to the substrate or cause flash-rusting.

Finally, what is your geographic location and local regulatory restrictions? Depending on your locale regulations can be stringent. For instance, in the United States you need to meet EPA standards and in Europe you are required to follow REACH regulations.

The Five Steps of TCE Replacement

When trying to determine the best TCE replacement to use, it is recommended that you work with a critical cleaning expert. They will have the knowledge, training and experience to help you make the best choice for your particular cleaning project.

With hundreds of years of combined critical cleaning expertise, the MicroCare team of cleaning engineers, chemists and technical experts help companies convert from TCE solvents to effective, safe and compliant TCE alternatives. They will evaluate the contamination and the substrate or material to make a recommendation for the best trichlorethylene replacement. The goal of our support team is that the TCE replacement fluid will deliver cleaning results as good as or better than TCE at a similar cost-per-part-cleaned.

On-Site Cleaning Audit

An on-site audit helps determine your unique requirements for a tricholoethylene replacement fluid. Understanding the applications helps us understand important information, such as fluid density and viscosity requirements, and any other constraints.

Identify Replacements

MicroCare offers a range of safer substitutes for trichlorethylene that can meet almost any industrial cleaning requirement. The alternative fluids can, in most cases, be used in the same equipment with the same methodologies.

Critical Cleaning Lab Testing

MicroCare operates a state-of-the-art critical cleaning lab where cleaning studies are performed. Sample parts with the identified soils are cleaned with the prescribed MicroCare TCE replacement cleaning fluid. The process is fully documented so it can easily be reproduced outside the lab.


After a potential TCE alternative cleaner is identified, a MicroCare regional engineer works with you to test how well the potential TCE replacement works.

Create a Custom Fluid

If the sample testing doesn’t deliver the results needed, we can alter its formulation to create a custom cleaning fluid to suit your exact needs.

Effective TCE Replacement Cleaners

MicroCare offers a variety of powerful, fast-drying, residue-free cleaning fluids as substitutes for trichlorethylene.  These high-purity, non-flammable, synthetic cleaning fluids offer high-performance cleaning on parts without leaving unwanted residue or causing detrimental effects to the substrates.

These fluids also are low in viscosity and surface tension, which allows them to get into tight crevices and wet all the surfaces of the parts. They also offer high solvency (“Kb Values”) which allows them to rigorously clean the surface and displace stubborn soils.

Tergo MCF Metal Cleaning Fluid drum and pail

Tergo Metal Cleaning Fluid

  • Based on  HFO chemistries
  • Featuring enhanced environmental benefits
  • Maximum stability and ease of recycling
  • Strong, aggressive cleaning (high Kb value)
Tergo TCFCF Chlorine free boil and rinse cleaning fluids

Tergo Chlorine-Free Fluid

  • An economical co-solvent system
  • Excellent replacement for nPB, Perc or TCE
  • High-temperature cleaning of waxes and buffing compounds
  • Excellent materials compatibility
Opteon Vertrel SF79 Specilaty Fluid

Opteon SF79 Fluid

  • Ultra-low global warming potential (GWP)
  • Uncompromised degreasing of heavy hydrocarbons
  • Excellent replacement for nPB, perc and TCE
Vertrel SDG Specialty Fluid

Vertrel SDG Degreaser

  • The solvent of choice for maximum cleaning
  • Versatile cleaner of oil, grease, hydraulic fluids and silicones
  • Significantly improved safety profile over older solvents
Vertrel SDG Specialty Fluid

Vertrel SFR Degreaser

  • Excellent electronics cleaner optimized for vapor degreasing
  • Ideal for removing high temperature lead-free fluxes and pastes widely used in modern electronics

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