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Are Your Metal Nameplates Power Washable? Cleaning Tips for All Types of Metal Nameplates

Last Updated: July 2, 2019

For industries that clean their equipment on a regular basis, it is important for equipment managers to know the best approach to cleaning metal nameplates to avoid deterioration and dullness that can impact readability over time. The best approach is to clean metal nameplates according to the material that it is made of because some may tarnish, rust, or become damaged in some way. Of course, choosing durable metal nameplates capable of withstanding exposure to harsh cleaners, abrasion, and power washing makes this less of a concern; regardless, following proper cleaning techniques can aid in keeping nameplates in good condition throughout the life of your equipment.

So, the best answer to whether you can pressure wash your metal nameplates is to determine the kind of plate you have first. Our tips and information will help you know if you can clean the following types of nameplates using a power washer:

Metalphoto Nameplate Cleaning Techniques: Metalphoto’s Durability Withstands Pressure Washing

Top-quality Metalphoto nameplates are known for their durability. In fact, they specifically are used for environments that require extreme durability because they feature high-resolution graphics that are sealed beneath an impenetrable sapphire-hard anodic layer. Because the graphics on Metalphoto nameplates are sealed in this way, they have proven outdoor durability of more than 20 years, with superior resistance against sunlight, corrosion, abrasion, heat, and chemicals and are suited for military and aerospace applications.

Pressure Washing military equipmentThe National Association of Graphic and Product Identification Manufacturers (GPI) Industry Standards and Practices Manual lists Metalphoto nameplates as the most durable printed aluminum substrate available and point to them as the ideal nameplate type for extreme environmental conditions and outdoor exposure. As such, they can withstand years of exposure to heat, humidity, UV, salt spray, abrasion, industrial solvents, and chemicals. They also can stand up to cleanings with power washers.

In fact, in a study conducted by the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Corona Division IUID Center to test the label durability of various labels to determine the best label materials for various operating environments, Metalphoto labels withstood pressure washing tests extremely well. Specifically, Metalphoto labels with 3M 9485 adhesive scored better than any other material tests: “Rigid labels tended to perform better in pressure wash than flexible labels. Greater label thickness and label rigidity reduces the tendency of the label to start peeling.”

Image via Pixabay by lilliematney

Anodized Aluminum Nameplate Cleaning Techniques: Capable of Withstanding Pressure Washing

Another type of nameplate that is suitable for the aircraft and aeronautical, automotive, marine, and military industries is the anodized aluminum nameplates. These aluminum plates are anodized with a nearly impenetrable protective finish that gives them moderate outdoor durability and helps them resist abrasion and corrosion.

With good resistance to chemicals and solvents, anodized aluminum nameplates feature graphics that are screen printed and sealed beneath the anodic layer. Because anodized aluminum nameplates offer good resistance to abrasion, chemicals, solvents, and extreme temperatures, you can power wash them.

Aluminum Nameplate Cleaning Techniques: Avoid Power Washing

Aluminum nameplates that are not anodized in some way are much less durable than those that are anodized. While aluminum nameplates are lightweight yet strong and can resist corrosion, they are less dense and softer than anodized aluminum. In many cases, aluminum nameplates are screen printed or chemically etched. Companies that opt to have a protective coating applied to their aluminum nameplates to increase their resistance to abrasion and scratching extend their lifetime.

If your aluminum nameplates feature screen-printed graphics, you should not pressure wash them. Also, if your aluminum nameplates do not feature a protective coating, you should not pressure wash them. If you do, you may damage the graphics or the finish of the metal. A safer cleaning method for aluminum nameplates is washing them with dishwashing soap to remove surface dirt and deep-seated or greasy dirt. Some equipment managers opt to dip a sliced lemon into some salt and use it to scrub the surface of the nameplate before wiping it off with a clean, damp rag. Finally, you should buff the surface of the aluminum nameplate with a clean, dry cloth.

Stainless Steel Nameplate Cleaning Techniques: Avoid Power Washing for Screen-Printed Graphics

Stainless steel nameplates are dense and have high resistance to chemicals and corrosion, making them ideal for marine, heavy industrial, and food processing applications. Stainless steel requires less maintenance than aluminum and is more resistant to dents and scratches with an expected exterior life of up to 20 years. As with aluminum, the graphics on stainless steel nameplates may be printed on the surface or chemically etched.

When it comes to cleaning stainless steel nameplates, keep in mind that although the steel itself is resistant to chemicals, abrasion, solvents, corrosion, and oxidation; the screen printed or etch and filled image is not! If your stainless steel nameplates feature chemically-etched graphics or screen-printed graphics, you should avoid power washing them as it may remove or dull the printed image.

The safest way to clean a stainless steel nameplate is to clean it first with a dishwashing soap known for its grease-removing capabilities. Next, wipe off the plate with a clean, damp cloth. If you notice that dirt remains on the stainless steel nameplate, add some ammonia to your dishwashing soap and continue to scrub and wipe until it is clean. It’s important to note that stainless steel has a grain in the surface, and you should follow this grain when wiping clean the nameplate rather than wiping in a circular motion.

Brass Nameplate Cleaning Techniques: Avoid Power Washing to Minimize Dullness

Brass nameplates are used in decorative applications and typically are popular for high-end retail and commercial displays or applications requiring outdoor durability. Brass resists saltwater, chemicals, and corrosion, which makes brass nameplates well suited to marine, military, and general industrial applications. Brass nameplates have an expected exterior life of up to 20 years and may feature graphics that are printed on the surface or chemically etched.

Brass NameplatesBecause of its decorative nature, brass nameplates may be polished to give them a near mirror-like appearance or a slightly brushed satin finish. To retain the luster of your brass nameplate, you should avoid pressure washing it. Rather, you should use soap and water to remove grease and dirt from the surface of the brass nameplate and then wipe it off with a damp, clean cloth. If you are going to polish the brass, be sure to wipe it with a dry cloth before you begin polishing. You should use brass metal polish to shine your brass nameplates.

It is better to be safe than sorry when cleaning your metal nameplates. Begin by knowing the material they are made of and then follow our cleaning tips for each metal type. If you have equipment that requires power washing, choose Metalphoto or anodized aluminum nameplates to avoid cleaning hassles.

Image via Flickr by Wystan

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