What would be the cheapest and most effective way for me to clean a cylinder head?

I'm going to pull multiple cylinder heads from the junkyard and i need to clean them. Unfortunately, i don't know how. Anybody got some maguyver tricks?

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I rebuilt the engine in my classic ' 70s Dodge van last year. Cast iron heads, 360 cid V8. I used a putty knife, gasoline, and a few dull razor blades. A few hours later the gasket faces were good as new.  Did the same procedure on the manifolds(intake and exhaust).  This is the cheapest way to clean parts.
vince 097 years ago
two words for you "super clean" you can get at wal mart it comes in a purple jug. all you need to do is spray it on the head and let it set for a couple of seconds, give it a good scrub and spray it off with the hose. immediately after they dry spray WD-40 on them or they will rust, even if it is aluminum there are still steel parts on it. but be warned WEAR GLOVES super clean will take the oils out of  your skin and you will have dragon skin for a couple of days, ask me how I know. but the stuff works great I cleaned my engine block and all parts included the transmission t-case and both axle diff's
An off the shelf product that we use all the time at work it Kleen-flo combustion chamber cleaner.  It comes in a grey can here.  Us can either run it through an engine, or leave it to soak.  You would have to soak it, scrub it, soak it, scrub it,   repeat as needed.  If you want to get someone else to do it, You can take it to a machine/engine rebuilder shop.  They have parts washers.  which is basically a dishwasher for parts and uses a special cleaning solution that gets thing back to new.
Re-design7 years ago
Are they cast iron or aluminum or even ceramic?
lutziepv08 (author)  Re-design7 years ago
some cast iron and some aluminum.
If you're just trying to get the oil and sludge off them take the to the diy car wash and use their soapy high pressure hot wash.  I did that on an old dirty greasy tractor engine and  I got it clean as new.

If you're talking about the carbon then that's a little harder to get rid of.

With cast Iron you can do just about anything you want as long as you don't damage the valve seat, spark plug thread, gasket face.  You can use a putty knife wire brush etc.  You can use any of the chemical cleaners.  The only thing the really hurts cast iron is a good cleaning and then leave it wet.  Without an oil protection layer it will start to rust in minutes.

Aluminum on the other hand you have to be very careful scraping.  You shouldn't use wire brushes.  Chemicals have to be listed for use on aluminum.  Most soaps are ok though.
lutziepv08 (author)  Re-design7 years ago
what off the shelf works the best?
lol Pistons..
Well, actually, a couple of runs in the dishwasher works wonders......really.....
Sandisk1duo7 years ago
buff it out