how to clean off oily engine

Got a big riding mower with the engine in a crowded, tight compartment. The engine has gotten very oily and greasy due to some oil blowing out the breather. Problem is now fixed.
How do I clean the engine? My first inclination is simply to spritz it down good with strong liquid detergent, let it soak awhile, and then flush off with water.
That should get it cleaned up, but am I going to ruin anything by doing this?
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My nephew who is a state engineer, Coast Guard diesel mechanic, and has maintained a fleet of forklifts, blasts his machines off in a carwash all the time. Can't say mine have ever gotten that bad but a used Wheelhorse with a 20hp Onan I bought last year was pretty dirty and clogged with clippings. I just used a putty knife and toothbrushes, and shop vac (sucking and blowing).
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OK. Guess the warm, soapy water under pressure is the ticket, then. Shouldn't be any way for water to get inside the engine where it shouldn't.
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RB wrote:

I clean all my engines; mower, tractor, car, truck, etc., with a cheap electric power washer: I spray full strength Simple Green over the whole thing, a couple of times over heavy crud, wait a few minutes, then spray away. Sometimes I even spray it again for stuff I missed, or parts that didn't come clean enough. Cover any exposed air intakes.
--
Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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go to PepBoy or Auto Zone and get some Engine Gunk cleaner...Run the motor let it heat up, spray the gunk on and hose it off.... its that simple "
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