HOW TO USE ULTRASONIC CLEANERS
Instructions, cleaning fluids, gemstones and ultrasonic cleaners

 

BUY NOW: CLICK ON A PICTURE

 

At the bottom of this page is a list of related articles

 

INTRODUCTION

Ultrasonic cleaners pulse high frequency sound waves through water, it is harmless (you can even put your hand in the water while the machine is running), they are used for cleaning everything from jewellery to spectacles to coins.

The cleaner will clean, but it will not polish. If the item needs polishing, polish it before you clean it. The polishing compounds might make the item look even grubbier, that is precisely how an ultrasonic cleaner is used in a jewellery workshop, to removed the polishing compounds after the final polish. Then all that remains is for the item(s) to be dried, then given a final shine with a clean gold polishing cloth (more details in the article about polishing).

 

CONTENTS OF THIS ARTICLE

Choosing an ultrasonic cleaner

Cleaning gemstones

Instructions for use

Recommendations

 

CHOOSING AN ULTRASONIC CLEANER

Please do not confuse an ultrasonic cleaner with a 'sonic cleaner', a made-up name for a vibrator (we have a sample that retails for £4.90) - by the time these get onto the internet they are advertised as 'ultrasonic cleaners'. Not true!

When choosing an ultrasonic cleaner, think about how many items you will want to clean at one time, or if you are likely to clean large items. It's all very well saying you will only be cleaning rings, earrings and small brooches...then one day you have a choker and it won't fit into the cleaning tank. The smaller cleaners are not 'continuous run', if you leave one switched on, it will burn out. So they have timers, you run it for a set time (between 2 and 30mns depending on the model) and then it switches off. If you are going to be using it for hours at a time (rather than a few minutes at a time) get the professional model, you can run it for up to 80mns, then run it again, all day.

You must use hot water. If you intend to use the cleaner for one or two items per day, boil a kettle, no problem; if you intend to use the cleaner several times per day (or all day long) you will find it tedious to keep boiling the kettle, so go for the professional model, it has a built in heater.

TAKE CARE IF CLEANING GEMSTONES

Take great care before placing gemstones in the ultrasonic. Most gemstones are OK, but you won't necessarily know which.

Do not place the following in an ultrasonic:

- anything soft or porous, including pearls, opal and resins (e.g. amber), these will be destroyed.

- anything coated or dyed, including some jade and beads of all types, you will wash the dye out, they will appear to change colour

- emeralds, they can contain fine fissures, so the supplier will fill them with oil which makes the fissure 'disappear', then the ultrasonic washes the oil out and the emerald looks as if it has developed cracks.

- some gemmologists say peridot is prone to cracking, though more likely due to being plunged into near-boiling water than the ultrasonic waves.

If you are a gemmologist, check carefully to see what you are cleaning. If you are not a gemmologist, you may wish to avoid cleaning jewellery with gemstones - except for diamond which is quite safe.

HOW TO USE

Models without a heater: fill the tank with hot water (e.g. from a kettle). It's wise to let the water cool for a minute or two, merely to lessen the chance of scalding yourself. Models with a heater: allow time for it to heat up (of course, you can save time by starting with hot water).

For metals only (gold, silver, platinum, copper...any metal) you can make yourself a powerful cleaning fluid: one drop of detergent + one drop of household ammonia in hot water. Or you can buy ammonia-free cleaner designed especially for cleaning jewellery in ultrasonic cleaners.

Ideally, the items should not touch, so place them, in the tank, slightly apart from each other. With the large (professional) model, hang cord across the 'cage' and hang the items from that (maybe make yourself wire hooks) - that way it's easy to fish the items out of the tank.

For models with a timer, run the timer (two to four minutes is long enough for all but the grubbiest of items), very dirty items can be brushed with a toothbrush while the item is in the ultrasonic. It's quite safe to put your hands in the water while the machine is running, just check that the water isn't too hot.

Remove and dry the jewellery. For the model without a timer, just turn it on (and turn it off, or fish the items out, after two or three minutes).

RECOMMENDATIONS

The small cleaner is for occasional use, it is large enough to clean a handful of items at a time e.g. a handful of rings or a couple of bracelets or a large bangle. It has a timer with two settings, 3mns or 6mns.

The medium size cleaner is suitable for regular use in a shop, it is large enough to clean several items at a time, e.g. about a dozen rings, or 3 or 4 bracelets, or one or two bangles. It has a timer with four settings, 2mns, 4mns, 8mns, 10mns.

The large cleaner is suitable for cleaning many items of jewellery at a time, e.g. for regular use in a retail shop or small workshop, timer adjustable in 5mns steps from 5mns to 30mns.

The heavy duty 3 Litre model is suitable for use all day in a workshop, includes heater to heat the water, three cleaning modes, timer adjustable in 1mn steps from 1mn to 80mns, three cleaning modes, large capacity.


RELATED ARTICLES

How to polish jewellery

How to remove tarnish from silver without using polish

Ultrasonic cleaning

Styles (types) of jewellers pliers and cutters

 

 


 

 

 

QUICKTEST, Watford, WD18 8PH, Tel. 01923 220206, email info(at)quicktest.co.uk