Using an Ultrasonic Cleaner for Jewelry Maintenance

September 12, 2016 | Comment

Ultrasonic cleaning used to be a process mainly used for industrial purposes. Manufacturing plants, the food processing industry, laboratories, and pharmaceutical companies employ different types of ultrasonic cleaners to remove contaminants in various machinery components, sensitive mechanical parts, and sophisticated lab equipment.

Today, these devices have become a consumer product found in many households. The ultrasonic cleaner is a very diverse piece of cleaning equipment that allows the user to clean virtually any item or component that is too fragile or too complicated for conventional cleaning methods. One of the best applications for ultrasonic cleaning, in the commercial sense, is jewelry maintenance. Jewelry is one of the hardest, most time-consuming items to clean because of its uneven surfaces, the presence of tiny crevices, and the looming possibility of damage when the person doing the cleaning is not being careful.

Ultrasonic cleaners make the laborious task of removing dirt, dead skin cells, and dried up sweat in precious antique jewelry a lot safer and easier. But how do they work? How do they remove contaminants without damaging the items? What do consumers need to know to operate these devices in a safer and more effective manner?

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How Does a Standard Ultrasonic Cleaner Work in Effectively Cleaning Objects?

Ultrasonic cleaners are electric-powered devices that utilize ultrasound, or ultrasonic sound waves that are just beyond the hearing capacity of the human ear, to loosen and remove contaminants and dirt particles from almost any type of surface. It has become a common tool in the jewelry maintenance process because of its ability to loosen particles that stick into tiny crevices in most types of jewelry.

But ultrasonic sound waves are not the only component that ultrasonic cleaners use to effectively remove dirt particles; these devices also employ cleaning solutions of different kinds. Ultrasonic sound waves are much more potent underwater or in some type of liquid, hence the cleaning solution.

Items are cleaned by placing them inside a cleaning tank with the solution. Most ultrasonic cleaners come with a cleaning basket to keep items from touching the bottom of the tank, as this is said to be really effective. Once the device is powered on, it produces ultrasonic vibrations that run through the liquid cleaning solution, and together they loosen and break down dirt particles that have accumulated on the surface and tiny crevices of your jewelry.

Which Cleaning Solution Is Best for Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaning?

Most ultrasonic cleaners come with recommendations for the cleaning solutions are best suited for certain items and materials, as well as the device itself. What’s important when choosing a cleaning solution is that you think about the type of materials you will be cleaning. Stronger cleaning solutions could damage or discolor your jewelry if you’re not careful.

Moreover, you should also consider the ultrasonic equipment and see if the solution you’re thinking of using is recommended or classified as safe for your specific device model. Yes, there are plenty of cleaning solutions, so you need to remember that they are not created equally. Some solutions are designed for harsher contaminants and materials, while others are specifically made for sensitive items like precious antiques and jewelry.

Another option available is homemade cleaning solution, which is not as difficult as you might think. If you decide to use a homemade cleaning solution instead of buying one commercially, you only need tap water, ammonia, and dishwashing liquid. Mix these components together by pouring water into the ultrasonic cleaning tank, add the ammonia and dishwashing liquid, and then turn on the machine for five to 10 minutes without the jewelry.

For the cleaning process to be effective, you need to remember to use a hot (but not boiling) cleaning solution in the cleaning tank. Preheat the water on a stove and remove it just before it starts to boil. Or, you can choose to buy an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner with a built-in heater with temperature control.

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaning

If your jewelry collection needs serious cleaning, and you don’t want to take it to your local jeweler, below are a few simple steps you can follow to safely and effectively use your ultrasonic jewelry cleaner for your jewelry collection.

Making the cleaning solution:

  • Pour the right amount of water in the cleaning tank.
  • Add a tablespoon of ammonia.
  • Add some mild dishwashing liquid.
  • Turn the device on, without the jewelry, and let it run for at least five to 10 minutes, max. (This will help make sure that the solution and its components are mixed well)

Preparing your jewelry for cleaning:

  • Go over your jewelry one-by-one and separate the more sensitive ones from the group.
  • Do not mix jewelry pieces that can easily get scratched. Some pieces have sharp edges and pointy components, so be mindful of this.
  • Clean your jewelry in batches, and not all together in a single sitting.

Setting up and initiating the cleaning process:

  • Place the first batch of jewelry inside the tank filled with the solution. Remember to avoid placing too many pieces inside the tank, or you risk scratching some of your jewelry. (At this point, the cleaning solution should already be preheated for maximum efficiency)
  • Turn on the cleaner and let it run for two to 20 minutes, depending on how dirty the pieces are.
  • After the cleaning is done, turn off the device and let it sit for another five to 10 minutes to allow the contaminants and dirt particles to settle to the bottom.
  • Take out your jewelry and rinse it well with clean water to remove any residual particles. You can use a soft-bristled brush to gently remove residue from objects that have intricate

Place the pieces on a soft cloth and let them sit to dry. After which, you can start with the next batch.