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Ultrasonic Cleaners

Old 11-10-19, 10:06 AM
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Ultrasonic Cleaners

I thought Iíd seen an earlier thread regarding the use of ultrasonic cleaners for cleaning parts, but I couldnít find it. I just bought a small unit (3 liters) and am wondering what the best cleaning solutions might be. So far, Iíve just used Dawn dishwashing detergent and am looking at trying Simple Green, but before I go that route, I figured Iíd check here for and other suggestions. What experiences have you had with these cleaners? Thanks!
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Old 11-10-19, 10:17 AM
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I've used Simple Green for years in my ultrasonic cleaner.
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Old 11-10-19, 10:24 AM
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I put about an inch of water in my cleaner tank, then place a Pyrex beaker with cleaning solution into the water, which couples the ultrasonic energy efficiently into the cleaning solution. This eliminates having to clean out the tank between cleanings. I use Simple green, Dawn or odorless mineral spirits; the real stuff not the milky substitute. One could also use alcohol or really anything; Dawn and water work great on eyeglasses. It is kind of cool to turn on the agitation and see the gunk come out of the little crevices
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Old 11-10-19, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by dsbrantjr View Post
Dawn and water work great on eyeglasses.
Beware that if your eyeglasses have any kind of coating on the lenses, an ultrasonic cleaner may loosen it.
I learned that the hard way.
I'll never put eyeglasses in it again.
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Old 11-10-19, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by ddeand View Post
I thought Iíd seen an earlier thread regarding the use of ultrasonic cleaners for cleaning parts, but I couldnít find it. I just bought a small unit (3 liters) and am wondering what the best cleaning solutions might be. So far, Iíve just used Dawn dishwashing detergent and am looking at trying Simple Green, but before I go that route, I figured Iíd check here for and other suggestions. What experiences have you had with these cleaners? Thanks!
Water and heat do wonders in ultra-sonic cleaners.

Otherwise a shot of degreaser will finish the job.
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Old 11-10-19, 10:41 AM
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I use Simple Green in mine. More than doubles the life of a chain cleaned with the shaken plastic jar method.
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Old 11-10-19, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
Beware that if your eyeglasses have any kind of coating on the lenses, an ultrasonic cleaner may loosen it.
I learned that the hard way.
I'll never put eyeglasses in it again.
Thanks for the warning, I have been using Dawn solution on my co$tly Zeiss coated lenses for decades and have never had a problem. What cleaning solution did you use that caused the coating damage? I often hear an ultrasonic cleaner running at my eyeglass provider, but I will check with them at my next visit.
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Old 11-10-19, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by dsbrantjr View Post
Thanks for the warning, I have been using Dawn solution on my co$tly Zeiss coated lenses for decades and have never had a problem. What cleaning solution did you use that caused the coating damage? I often hear an ultrasonic cleaner running at my eyeglass provider, but I will check with them at my next visit.
Simple Green, as stated earlier.

Even more disgusting is that I was warned by a technician at my optometrists office about coated lenses, but I had already been doing it w/o problem. it was only after repeated cleanings that the coating loosened up. I'll bet the cleaner you heard running was cleaning frames w/o lenses installed.
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Old 11-10-19, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by dsbrantjr View Post
I put about an inch of water in my cleaner tank, then place a Pyrex beaker with cleaning solution into the water, which couples the ultrasonic energy efficiently into the cleaning solution. This eliminates having to clean out the tank between cleanings. I use Simple green, Dawn or odorless mineral spirits; the real stuff not the milky substitute. One could also use alcohol or really anything; Dawn and water work great on eyeglasses. It is kind of cool to turn on the agitation and see the gunk come out of the little crevices
I'll use some "nastier" solutions for some parts.
Little "snap lid" containers that are common in Oregon are handy.
Little plastic "meat tubs" with a Dawn solution for eyeglasses & such.
A rinse under the faucet and air hose-
Check your screws!
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Old 11-10-19, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
Simple Green, as stated earlier.

Even more disgusting is that I was warned by a technician at my optometrists office about coated lenses, but I had already been doing it w/o problem. it was only after repeated cleanings that the coating loosened up. I'll bet the cleaner you heard running was cleaning frames w/o lenses installed.
Simple Green is a pretty strong alkali IIRC. Thanks for the info.
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Old 11-10-19, 02:33 PM
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Thank you for the advice and opinions. Looks like Simple Green works for most.
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Old 11-10-19, 04:58 PM
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I can't really see where an ultra sonic cleaner will cleaner any faster or efficient (talking about grease and grime) than just blasting away with a good solvent cleaner and a little rubbing.
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Old 11-10-19, 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by coffeesnob View Post
I can't really see where an ultra sonic cleaner will cleaner any faster or efficient (talking about grease and grime) than just blasting away with a good solvent cleaner and a little rubbing.
Well, thatís what Iím going to find out. Another bike hobbyist said they work well, and the bike shop I worked at used one. So, weíll see.
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Old 11-10-19, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by coffeesnob View Post
I can't really see where an ultra sonic cleaner will cleaner any faster or efficient (talking about grease and grime) than just blasting away with a good solvent cleaner and a little rubbing.
It's lazy. Toss it in and go do something useful.
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Old 11-10-19, 07:05 PM
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+1 for simplegreen but I also have used liquid laundry detergent with a dab of dishwasher soap. If you have a kettle handy - boiling water in the sonic cleaner means it works much much faster. Just remember to oil any moving parts after cleaning.

Also, my go to for hand cleaner is laundry detergent which doesn't seem to dry out hands.
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Old 11-11-19, 01:15 AM
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Beware of Simple Green! I recommend finding another degreaser (there's tons of threads on all the things you can use here). Simple Green is an effective degreaser, but it's also corrosive. I've seen it eat the anti-rust coating off of two brand new chains after a single hot ultrasonic cleaner run.

Also worth mentioning: Simple Green is especially corrosive to aluminum and can eat away the nice anodized finish on your chainrings and high-end cassette. Be careful!
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Old 11-11-19, 06:25 AM
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Originally Posted by coffeesnob View Post
I can't really see where an ultra sonic cleaner will cleaner any faster or efficient (talking about grease and grime) than just blasting away with a good solvent cleaner and a little rubbing.
Lots of things I'd rather do for 10 or 15 minutes than scrub chains and spill solvent.
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Old 11-11-19, 07:13 AM
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The use of ultrasonic cleaners in the jewelry industry is ubiquitous. The solutions used have three principal components; a detergent, a de-greasing agent, and a surfactant (wetting agent). Since the first two components are generally well known, I won't waste time explaining them. The Surfactant/ wetting agent (basically the same type of stuff as Jet-Dri that one puts into the dishwashing machine) causes the cleaner to "break" or not cling to the surface of the item, usually in the form of water drops, . Thus the elimination of water spotting on glassware....
On the rare occasions when we needed a substitute for the commercially available ultrasonic cleaning solution, we found the all-purpose cleaner "Top Job" pretty effective. I suspect any cleaner containing these three components will work sufficiently well, as long as the de-greaser component is adequate for the grease present- jewelry usually isn't lathered in grease or oil; so the degreasing component isn't as proportionally high.
The heating of the solution is usually important to speed up the effectiveness of the cleaning process.
Depending on the strength of the transducers in the ultrasonic unit, there might be slight "etching" effect on some of the aluminum alloys when subjected to both heated solution and the caustic formulas. Caveat Emptor! So if you are cleaning alloy brake calipers or ungreased aluminum parts, you might want to do so with the heat turned off. Any thing greasy or oily, though, the heated solution is fabulous; especially cassettes, freewheel, and Chains!
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Old 11-11-19, 07:30 AM
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I just use dawn detergent. works fine.
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Old 11-11-19, 08:41 AM
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I’m learning a lot in this thread!
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Old 11-11-19, 09:03 AM
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I use a cheap Harbor Freight tank and Simple Green. For small items I place the item in a ziplock bag with dilute simple green, fill the the tank with warm water and place the bag in the water.
Same idea as the use of the glass beaker, I just don't have any. I did consider a water glass, then I considered staying married!

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Old 11-11-19, 10:30 AM
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Would an ultrasonic cleaner help accelerate the process of Evapo-Rust?
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Old 11-11-19, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by dsbrantjr View Post
I put about an inch of water in my cleaner tank, then place a Pyrex beaker with cleaning solution into the water, which couples the ultrasonic energy efficiently into the cleaning solution. This eliminates having to clean out the tank between cleanings. I use Simple green, Dawn or odorless mineral spirits; the real stuff not the milky substitute. One could also use alcohol or really anything; Dawn and water work great on eyeglasses. It is kind of cool to turn on the agitation and see the gunk come out of the little crevices
Yikes! I would NOT use anything flammable in a U/S cleaner. Almost all U/S cleaner instructions I've seen specifically warn against this. In most U/S units you have a heater. The U/S mechanism can be excellent for vaporizing stuff (there are U/S room vaporizers available). Hot vaporized min spirits or alcohol plus your heater = ???

Isn't one reason for the U/S cleaner to eliminate the need for flammable solvents?
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Old 11-11-19, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
Lots of things I'd rather do for 10 or 15 minutes than scrub chains and spill solvent.
I kind of enjoy piddling around doing that kind of stuff.
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Old 11-11-19, 01:15 PM
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I also use Simple Green, but agree with morelowgears that it will affect aluminum. It will leave a dull finish on aluminum, so be aware.

For me, some of my stuff was so dirty that that it didn't matter and I was able to get the finish back on the aluminum with fine sandpaper and then Scotchbrite.
You could degrease with a mechanical action like scrubbing with a brush. The advantage of the ultrasonic is that you put your parts in and in an hour come back and they are done. No effort required.

You may also want to check out Oz Cycling YouTube video where he compares chain cleaning methods. The ultrasonic didn't win.
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