Ultrasonic Cleaning Best Practices

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ultrasonic cleaning best practicesYou’ve read about them online, maybe even saw one in your local jewelry store or machine shop, and have gone out and purchased your first ultrasonic cleaner. Depending on your specific cleaning application you may have bought a small jewelry cleaner, or a complete weapons cleaning and re-lubrication system.

But regardless of what size ultrasonic unit you have purchased, or what you’re using it for, there are certain things you should know to get the most out of your new ultrasonic cleaner.

The first thing you need to do when using any piece of new equipment is to familiarize yourself with the various features and options your unit has come with. Once again, depending on the kind of cleaner you have, it may have very simple controls like a lone on/off switch, or it could have an entire digital suite with temperature control settings, power control, or other options. Getting to know you cleaner is the first step to getting the most out of it, so be sure to look it over and read the included instruction manual thoroughly before use.

Safety is another concern, and no matter what kind of ultrasonic bath you happen to have, there are certain things you should never, EVER do with an ultrasonic cleaner:

  • Never plug in, much less turn on, any ultrasonic cleaner without the tank properly filled first. If there is no water in the tank, and the cleaner is switched on, the transducer burn out almost immediately, leaving you with a now completely useless piece of hardware. Always have your cleaner filled to the recommended level before attaching it to power.
  • NEVER use flammable liquid of any kind in an ultrasonic bath! Ultrasonic cavitation is know to create microscopic “hot spots”. These hot spots, if near the surface of the liquid, can actually ignite the entire surface of the tank, creating what is know as “flash over”. This can happen with any flammable liquid, and is extremely dangerous.
  • Never place any part of the body in a running ultrasonic cleaner. While it may be fun to watch your jewelry cleaner clean the stuff out from under your nails, it’s generally not a good idea. There is a theory that ultrasonic cavitation could actually force small air bubbles into the bloodstream through cuts in the skin. While this has never been recording as actually happening, it’s certainly not something to fool around with.

Now that we know what are cleaner does, what options it has, and what NOT to do with it, here are some general ways to get the most from your ultrasonic unit:

  • Use hot water in your ultrasonic bath. While hot water obviously breaks down soils faster than cold, it also has added benefits in an ultrasonic cleaner. Ultrasonic cavitation actually works best in water between 130 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Match your cleaning solution to the soil on your parts. There are a ton of very specific ultrasonic cleaning solutions out there to choose from, and each is designed to clean specific soils from specific items, suck as stainless steel or glass.
  • Only change your cleaning solution when you need to. If it takes 10 minutes to clean your average part in a brand new tank of solution, you know it’s time to change out the tank when it begins to take 15 to 20 minutes to reach that same level of clean.

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  • Last Updated
  • David Huckabay
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