Can I use an Air Compressor to Clean?

Air compressors are most commonly used to run pneumatic tools and to put air into an object like a car or motorcycle/bicycle tire, sports ball, kids toys, etc. We often get questions about using the air pressure in a shop compressor for cleaning or blowing something out. Care must be used when doing this to be sure not to damage what you’re exposing to shop air.

Most air compressors will have a tank of some sort that will be your reservoir for the compressed air inside. The pressure reading on your air tank will be approximately what comes out of the air hose/nozzle. Your compressor should then have a pressure switch that will automatically shut the compressor down when the air tank is full and at the preset air pressure. We’ve found most pressure switches turn the compressor off at around 80-120PSI. Care should be taken when working with an air nozzle cleaning or blowing something off with shop air. OSHA states that an air nozzle with over 30PSI shouldn’t be directly aimed at your skin.  Compressed air is a concentrated stream of air at high pressure and high speed and I can be dangerous if used incorrectly.

Have we scared you yet? Good! In reality as long as you are cautious with your compressed air nozzle you can use your shop air for all sorts of handy things. We suggest turning the air pressure down first to avoid any danger. Next install a blow nozzle of your choosing. You air Compressor is great for cleaning the inside of electronics like a desktop PC or computer, video game system, radio/speakers, TV, Washer/Dryer etc. The low pressure will be enough to knock the dust off of the internals without the risk of damaging the internals with a brush or your hands. A good tip when blowing out the inside of electronics is to put a vacuum cleaner nozzle adjacent to the area you’re cleaning so it will immediately suck the dust/dirt out of the area when the air nozzle blows it loose. Make that Air work!

Air pressure can also be used to blow or force blockages of dirt, rust, etc. out of an orifice. In the automotive world we’ve used compressed air to clean out fuel and brake lines on cars that have been sitting or when flushing/cleaning out a cooling system. If you get a good seal of the air nozzle on the tube/hose you will pressurize the inside and it will force out foreign objects. Auto Detailers also use compressed air to clean out crevices and hidden areas in a car that a brush, rag, or your hands could never reach.   Around the house we’ve seen compressed air being used to clean out irrigation hoses that have sat or been clogged. Again be sure to keep the pressure at a reasonable rate as to not damage the tube or hose you’re trying to clean.

Picking a compressor solely for blowing or cleaning things off/out isn’t too common as we normally suggest to buy a compressor with the idea of “What could I use?”. A small pancake compressor can easily handle what you need for blowing out or blowing off things, but if you want to run a paint gun, media blaster, or grinder you might be disappointed. Any compressor that can hold 30 PSI for long enough to clean something off will work well, but you may want more than that for your overall use.

Find a full range of compressors from small to large to fit your needs at Eastwood HERE.

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