Dr. John Durkee, precision cleaning expert, passes at 75

Widely considered an unbiased educator in the field of cleaning science and technology, Durkee presented courses and workshops on cleaning across the U.S. and in Canada.

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Dr. John Durkee, an expert in precision cleaning for several decades and a well-known speaker on the subject, passed away Sept. 5 in Kerrville, Texas at the age of 75.

Widely considered an unbiased educator in the field of cleaning science and technology, Durkee presented courses and workshops on cleaning across the U.S. and in Canada. He also taught multi-day courses on the subject of surface finishing.

His publications include The Parts Cleaning Handbook Without CFCs: How to Manage the Change (Gardner, 1994), which continues to sell in countries only now beginning to phase out CFCs; Management of Industrial Cleaning Technology and Processes (Elsevier, 2006); The Science and Technology of Solvent Cleaning (Elsevier, 2012); and The Handbook of Solvent Cleaning, (Elsevier, 2013).

Durkee provided objective monthly columns about cleaning science, technology, and markets to periodicals including: Controlled Environments Magazine, Clean-Tech, Galvanotechnik (Germany), Metal Finishing, Precision Cleaning, Process Cleaning, and Surface Finishing Journal (China).

Durkee was born in 1940 in the Pocono Mountains area of Eastern Pennsylvania. He received his bachelor of science, master of science and doctoral degrees from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and was a registered professional engineer (P.E.) in Texas where he has lived most of his post-graduation life.

While employed for 25 years by DuPont-Nemours, his contributions included research and development in polymers, industrial chemicals, and instrumentation, and in the development of replacement cleaning products and systems for CFC-113.

After retiring from DuPont-Nemours in 1993, Durkee served as an independent consultant, author, and educator working with both end users and suppliers.



Durkee’s friend, Joe McChesney from Kyzen, penned this tribute to him:


Those of us in the cleaning industry are saddened with this loss of a quality individual.

From the small shops to the large corporations … from the process operator to the facility engineer … from the equipment manufacturers to chemical suppliers to environmental regulatory organizations … all knew they could count on John to offer advice, assistance, or his opinion on any subject they brought to him.

When you met John- you got 2 things:

1.         A big warm smile

2.         A firm handshake

John would then get down to business. He would listen intently and then offer an honest unbiased assessment of the subject based on his experience and expertise. John instilled confidence in his abilities to everyone that worked with him.

For decades, he has mentored the cleaning industry and many individuals (me being one) in the art of cleaning processes and results of such. A great technical writer and even better contributor to the betterment of his profession. John gave a lot of himself to this industry he loved.

I approached John some months back about a project I was working on for my company. He had slowed down in his later years. Ever the gentleman, he politely refused the project due to health but informed me he would be happy to review / critique my work. John was always willing to help a friend any way possible.

It was my pleasure to work with John for many years. It was my honor to be his friend.

Joe McChesney

KYZEN Corporation

Footnote: Knowing John – he is already at work writing the cleaning specifications for the PEARLY GATES – making sure they are ready for the next generation that enters.



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