How To Use An Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner

How Do Ultrasonic Cleaners Work?

Ultrasonic cleaner

Ultrasonic cleaner

An ultrasonic cleaner is a device that uses ultrasound to remove the dirt from your jewelry.

The items are placed in a tank filled with a cleaning solution.

After the cleaner is turned on, its motor produces ultrasonic vibrations through the liquid.

These vibrations break down the dirt particles accumulated on the surface of your jewelry.

The good thing about ultrasonic cleaners is that they can clean the parts of your jewelry that are otherwise unreachable when using more conventional methods.

Click here to browse through an extensive selection of ultrasonic cleaners.

What Cleaning Solution Should Be Used?

One option you have for the cleaning solution is a jewelry cleaner that you can buy at the store — check out this popular brand, which can be used in an ultrasonic cleaner.

The alternative is to prepare a cleaning liquid yourself.

If you choose to make a homemade cleaning solution, just fill the tank of your cleaner with water, and add a tablespoon of ammonia.

Then add some dishwashing liquid and you’re done – it’s that simple.

You might want to turn the machine on and let it run without any items for 5-10 minutes so that the solution gets mixed well.

Remember to Heat It Up

One of the common mistakes people make when using an ultrasonic cleaner is to put cold water in the tank. For the cleaning solution to work best, it needs to be hot.

There are ultrasonic cleaners that have a built-in heater to ensure that the solution is heated up. However, these models can be much more expensive than the regular ones.

All you need to do is just heat the water up before you put it in the tank (do not bring the water to a boil, though). Then you can mix in the ammonia and the dishwashing liquid.

The Cleaning Process

After you have filled the tank with hot water and poured the cleaning liquid, you can put your jewelry inside. Don’t put in too many pieces at once, though, so as not to scratch your jewelry.

Turn the device on and let it run for as long as needed until you jewelry is clean. (Depending on how dirty the items are, this time usually varies from 1 to 20 minutes.)

After the cleaning is done, switch the cleaner off and leave your jewelry inside for another 5-10 minutes so that the dirt particles that were knocked off your pieces by the sound waves can fall to the bottom of the tank.

After you take your jewelry out, you can clean it briefly with a soft brush to make sure that any residual dirt is removed, especially from the mountings of your rings.

Rinse the items to wash off any remaining detergent, and dry them with a soft cloth.

How Often Should You Use an Ultrasonic Cleaner?

The frequency of using an ultrasonic cleaner will depend on how quickly your jewelry gets dirty.

In general, you can clean your jewelry with ultrasound every couple of weeks.

If you wear you pieces every day and they accumulate dirt more quickly, you can clean them every week.

As long as your jewelry is made of materials that can take ultrasound, cleaning your items more often will not hurt them.

What You Should Not Put in an Ultrasonic Cleaner

Not all jewelry should be cleaned with an ultrasonic device.

Many gemstones can be easily damaged by ultrasound. Do not put in softer gemstones such as opals, lapis lazuli, emeralds, turquoise, etc.

Organic jewelry such as pearls, coral pieces, or amber can also be damaged.

Also, do not put inside your ultrasonic cleaner gemstones whose color has been enhanced through heat treatment.

How To Safely Operate An Ultrasonic Cleaner

Safely operating an ultrasonic cleaner is a good subject in this artcle we will cover more than just turning the unit on and proceeding with a cleaning cycle. Safety practices apply to any size ultrasonic cleaner – whether used in the home, the research lab or on the industrial floor. They begin once you receive your ultrasonic cleaner, reading the operators manual to become totally familiar with the cleaning equipment and its operation.

By doing so you are on the way to a smooth-running experience with one of the most effective ways to remove contaminants from virtually any product that can be safely immersed in a water-based biodegradable cleaning solution or, with specially designed cleaners, cleaning solvents.

Types of items the sonic cleaner can clean safely

  • Jewelry
  • Lenses
  • Watches
  • Dental
  • Surgical Instruments
  • Tools
  • Coins
  • Fountain pens
  • Golf Clubs
  • Fishing reels
  • Window blinds
  • Firearm
  • Fuel injectors (carburetor)
  • Gramophone records
  • watchmakers

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Best Personal Safety Practices During Ultrasonic Cleaning

Ultrasonic Cleaning Safety

There are easy to follow steps to safe ultrasonic cleaning. An important, if not the most important point to keep in mind is that ultrasonic cleaning solutions get hot due to cavitation action. Continuous operation can raise cleaning solution temperatures to 175⁰F or more – even with units not equipped with heaters.

Recommended cleaning solution temperatures are provided by the manufacturer, and a high temperature is not always desirable. Nevertheless you should never reach into an operating ultrasonic cleaner bath to remove and inspect parts. Not only do you risk burns, cavitation can penetrate your skin. Not a good thing.

The solution? Wear protective gloves before removing baskets containing the parts for inspection – the parts will be hot too!

Hearing protection may also apply to good personal safety practices. Although ultrasonic frequencies are defined as sound above the range of human hearing, audible sound is generated by the vibration of cleaning tank walls and other sources.

The potential for undesirable noise increases at lower cleaning frequencies such as 25 and 45 kHz. Over time this can be annoying to personnel.

The solution? Ear protection devices, cleaning tank covers or placing the ultrasonic cleaner in a sound-suppressing case.

Good Safe Operating Practices for the Ultrasonic Cleaner

You’ve made an investment in ultrasonic cleaning equipment. There are a number of steps you can take to safely operate this equipment and contribute to a long, satisfactory service life.

Provide a reliable source of power

Ultrasonic cleaners use powerful transducers to convert electrical energy to sound. Cleaners are supplied with a three-prong grounded outlet for their power source and must be connected to a similarly grounded outlet.

We also strongly suggest that the ultrasonic cleaner have its dedicated outlet, not an outlet or circuit sharing multiple high powered machines such as a sterilizer, autoclave or air compressor. Circuit overloads could cause a circuit outage, an unwelcome occurrence in any situation.

Safe Practices for Equipment

Other precautions can keep the equipment operating at peak efficiency.

One of those measures is that items should not be placed directly on the bottom of the tank, Ultrasonic vibrations that create the cavitation bubbles will also vibrate items in contact with the tank, eventually causing wear that can penetrate the tank bottom. This voids the manufacturer’s warranty.

Instead, items should be placed in a mesh-bottom basket or tray suspended above the tank bottom. Note that some large industrial ultrasonic cleaners may be fabricated with ridges on the tank bottom to hold heavy parts. Alternatively, parts to be cleaned can be suspended from overhead racks to keep them from contacting the tank bottom.

Maintaining proper cleaning solution levels is also critical to ultrasonic equipment safety practices. These units are designed for a specific volume (level) of cleaning solution. In many units this is indicated by a fill line.

Evaporation and drag-out lowers the level. Manufacturers recommend that operators do not allow units to operate when the tank is less than 2/3 full. That’s because a low liquid level can damage the generator and heaters within the equipment.

See our maintenance section below for additional suggestions.

Good Practices for Selecting Cleaning Solutions

Elma Tec Clean - Ultrsonic Cleaning Solution

Ultrasonic cleaners work at their best with a water-based, biodegradable detergent solution. Over the years a wide variety of ultrasonic cleaning solution formulations have come on the market. Most are shipped as concentrates; others are formulated to operate at full strength.

They are tailored to specific cleaning jobs ranging from cleaning grossly contaminated engine parts to medical and surgical instruments. iUltrasonic offers a menu of  cleaning solution formulations along with advice on where they are best employed.

Volatile Cleaning Solvents .

Certain cleaning requirements may call for a volatile cleaning solvent such as IPA and acetone. In these instances special precautions apply to avoid a fire, explosion and health-related problems for personnel. For these applications an explosion-resistant or explosion-proof ultrasonic cleaner, together with code-required compliance concerning installation and operation.

If your cleaning operations require the use of flammable solvents call the iUltrasonic scientists at 973 440-2191 for advice and equipment recommendations.

Special Ultrasonic Cleaner Safety Precaution Features

Purchasing an ultrasonic cleaner equipped with a timer is strongly recommended. Some units show set and elapsed time, and will shut down at the end of the cycle. Others can operate continuously with an auto shut-down at 12 hours.

Models without an auto shut-down risk damage if users do not manually turn them off before leaving for the day or weekend. If this happens equipment is likely to burn out and/or damage parts left in the tank due to evaporation of the cleaning solution.

Ultrasonic cleaners that incorporate this safety shut-off feature include all Elmasonic E Plus, Elmasonic S, Elmasonic P, and Elma X-tra basic equipment available from iUltrasonic.

How Maintenance Contributes to Ultrasonic Cleaner Safety

Your instruction manual will have a section on tank maintenance.

The vibration created by ultrasonic transducers creates wear spots on the bottom of the tank that over time develop into abrasions termed cavitation erosion. This occurs even in tanks fabricated of cavitation-resistant stainless steel. This erosion will necessitate tank replacement before leaks develop.

You can prolong cleaning tank life by following these simple suggestions:

  • When changing solutions flush out residues, especially metal particles and rust films that fall to the bottom of the tank during cleaning operations. These can serve as “drills” when vibrated by the transducer.
  • Use the correct cleaning solution formulation. For example, do not use aqueous cleaning media with pH values in the acid range (pH < 7) directly in the ultrasonic tank. (Ask us about acid-resistant plastic inserts available as liners.)
  • Drain cleaning solutions before they become too contaminated (and reduce cleaning efficiency). Clean the tank and fill it with a fresh solution.
  • Turn your ultrasonic cleaner off when not in use.

We hope this information is useful in helping you to operate your ultrasonic cleaner in a safe manner.

For more information on finding the best ultrasonic cleaner that meets your needs, and for operating and maintenance recommendations  contact the iUltrasonic experts.