How to Clean a Used CNC Machine

Over time, your CNC machine is going to acquire some wear and tear. If your machine isn’t at least a little dirty, then you’re not making enough money with it. Once in a while, it’s beneficial to shut down your CNC machine and do a thorough cleaning. Get tips on caring for your CNC machine in this post from Premier Equipment.

CNC Machine Maintenance Supplies 

Before you get started, make sure you have the right supplies to do a thorough cleaning of your new or used CNC machine. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • An industrial degreasing cleaner (we recommend ZEP products)
  • An adhesive remover spray (such as Goo Gone)
  • A lubricant spray, like WD-40
  • Rubbing compound
  • Metal polish
  • Microfiber or cloth work rags
  • Steel wool (such as Brillo pads)
  • Putty knife
  • Buffing pads
  • Toothbrush
  • Plastic spray bottle filled with water

Step-by-step cleaning guide for CNC machines

Once you’ve gathered your supplies, here’s how to clean a CNC machine thoroughly:

  1. Inspect the interior and exterior: Dirt and grime are normal after plenty of use. But check your CNC machine for cracks, dents, or corrosion that could affect its performance. Are any keys or dials missing? Make a note to contact your manufacturer for replacement parts.
  2. Degrease the exterior: First, apply a degreasing agent to the top, bottom, and sides of the machine to remove built-up debris. You may have to experiment a bit to find the right degreaser-to-water ratio that works best for your machine. If you have sticky residue from tape, apply adhesive remover and scrape it off with a putty knife. Be careful not to remove or scrub the manufacturer’s sticker.
  3. Clean and buff the machine: Use industrial-grade rubbing compound and a buffer pad to remove remaining smudges and markings from the machine. If your compound is drying out too quickly, use your spray bottle to apply a little water to the pad. Wipe off any residual compound once all the dirt is removed from the machine with a clean, dry cloth.
  4. Polish: To restore your machine’s shine and make it look like new, apply a metal polish with a clean buffing pad and a little water. Apply WD-40 to any stainless steel parts. 
  5. Clean dials and keypad: Carefully wipe down the CNC control panel, including the keypad and dials. Do not spray degreaser directly on the panel – instead, spray a little cleaner onto your cloth and then wipe down the keys and dials with short strokes. To remove grime from in between keys, you can gently buff the keypad with a clean toothbrush.
  6. Degrease the interior: Use a degreasing agent and a buffer pad to clean the interior of your CNC machine, being careful not to scratch any chrome parts or damage any electrical components. Once you’re done, wipe everything down with a clean cloth. 
  7. Touch up chipped paint: If you’re getting ready to sell your CNC machine, you may also want to do a couple of cosmetic fixes. Get a small amount of a matching color to paint over minor chips and scratches. 

Don’t be afraid to get dirty, and take your time; the larger the machine, the longer it will take to clean. We’ve seen many used CNC machines for sale that have been covered in grease and oil but turn out like new with a little scrubbing. In contrast, some small CNC lathes are so tiny that you may be limited to what you can clean. 

As always, be sure to utilize all safety gear when cleaning, just like you would when you run your CNC machine in your shop.

Buy or Sell Used CNC Machines

Over the past 30 years, Premier Equipment has dealt with thousands of used CNC lathes, vertical machining centers, and horizontal machining centers, as well as other types of CNC equipment like water jets and lasers. As the world’s largest seller of used CNC machines, you can count on Premier Equipment for expert advice and best-in-class service. To request an appraisal, learn about CNC auctions, or get help selling your CNC machine, contact us today.


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