Cleaning Solutions for Ultrasonic Cleaning Tasks - Elma Ultrasonic Cleaners (2024)

The old saw “the key to good work is using the right tool for the job” applies equally well to ultrasonic cleaning jobs. In this case the “tool” is selecting one of the many ultrasonic cleaning solutions available to assure the desired results. As you will learn here, there are many cleaning solution formulas available. This post will help you make the right choice(s). There may be instances where you may need more than one formula.

The Ultrasonic Cleaning Solutions Market

Definitions might seem confusing. In some cases cleaning solutions are called chemicals, in other cases “soaps.” In any case, these solutions represent a major market. According to a Dataintelo report “The ultrasonic cleaning chemicals market was valued at USD 2.1 billion in 2018. The report projects a “CAGR of 4.4% during 2019-2030.”

First Step in Cleaning Solutions Selection

To help assure best results, you must be aware of these critical points.

  • What is being cleaned? As you might surmise the requirements to clean engine and drive train assemblies, plastic injection molds, PCBs, and surgical instruments vary substantially.
  • What are the contaminants? Gross deposits of grease and grime; burned on residues, oils, flashing and grease; solder flux, blood and other contaminants require different procedures.
  • What is the product made of? Aluminum, steel, glass, plastic, and composites are examples. (Note that chromium-plated products are not suitable for cleaning with ultrasonic energy.)
  • Product configuration is important. Simple? Complex? Characterized by blind or narrow holes?
  • Are there post-cleaning requirements? Some may require one or more rinsing steps to remove cleaning bath residues either for sanitation reasons or to prepare the product for further finishing steps such as painting, plating or powder coating.

Second Step in Cleaning Solution Selection

Cleaning solutions can be classified in by pH and if they are emulsifying or demulsifying. Being aware of this is helpful if you are not a trained chemical engineer – let us explain.

The pH designation helps classify the formula as acidic, alkaline or neutral with high pH values associated with alkaline and lower as acidic.

The emulsifying or demulsifying designation deals with what happens to contaminants removed during the ultrasonic cleaning process. The designation applies particularly to cases when products are heavily contaminated with oils and greases.

An emulsifying cleaning formulation keeps contaminants in suspension where they accumulate and begin to lower the effectiveness of cleaning solutions. These contaminants may also adhere to the product when it is removed from the cleaning tank, possibly necessitating a rinsing operation. Below we offer points on what to do when cleaning efficiency drops to unacceptable levels.

Demulsifying cleaning solutions allow contaminants to float to the surface where they can be skimmed off and set aside for later disposal. Industrial ultrasonic cleaners may be equipped with sprays and weirs to direct floating impurities into a collection vessel. But as with emulsifying formulas cleaning efficiency will drop off with continued use, necessitating solution replacement.

A Snapshot of Cleaning Solution Applications

Here’s a general overview on where these formulations find application. The examples given are but a few of the many choices available.

All dilutions are with water.

  • To remove light oil, grease, fluxing agents, dust and fingerprints from electronics and fine optics, alkaline emulsifying elma tec clean A1 in dilutions to 3 to 10% is a good choice. PCB manufacturers and operators of PDA repair services use this product when either producing PCBs or removing soils and contaminants that accumulate during use.
  • Grinding and polishing media, greases and oils are quickly removed from nonferrous and precious metals with alkaline emulsifying elma tec clean A2. Its ammonia content brightens brass and copper products. Normal dilutions are to 5 to 10%.
  • Clean medical and dental instruments using with MedClean C7 diluted to 1 to 3% before disinfecting or sterilizing.
  • Remove oil, grease, soot, co*king, forge dust and fingerprints from a broad range of surfaces including stainless steel, steel, iron and gray iron, aluminum, light metals, brass, glass, quartz and rubber using alkaline mostly demulsifying elma tec clean A4 diluted to 1 to 5% in an ultrasonic cleaner or to 10% for cleaning without ultrasound.
  • Remove burnt on residues from costly injection molds using our mold release formula diluted to 50%.
  • Clean all metals, plastics, ceramics, glass and rubber with neutral emulsifying elma tec clean N1 in dilutions to 2 to 5% for ultrasound or to 10% for cleaning without ultrasound.
  • Remove rust, lime, oxide films, grease and oil from nonferrous heavy metals, stainless steel, aluminum, brass and plastics among other surfaces with emulsifying mildly acidic cleaner elma tec clean S1 diluted to 1 to 5%.
  • Remove epoxies, resins and paints from spray gun parts with CLN-SC75 diluted to 50%.
  • Firearms are cleaned and protected against further corrosion by first cleaning with GunClean L6 diluted to 10% followed by a bath in GunLube L5 full strength.
  • For temporary protection against corrosion on steel, grey cast iron and hard metals after aqueous cleaning use elma tec clean KS diluted to 0.5%.
  • Remove ink, dyes, grease, heavy soils and varnish from metal parts and printing plates with HydroSonic non-ammoniated cleaner, 8 gallons per bottle.
  • Remove a broad range of contaminants from volumetric and lab glassware with Elma LabClean A20SF diluted to 1 to 2% with water.

For a broader list of widely used ultrasonic cleaning solution chemistries and packaging choices please visit the chemicals pages of our sister website

Cleaning Solution Disposal

When cleaning efficiency drops off, the cleaning solutions must be replaced. While most of today’s ultrasonic cleaning chemistries are biodegradable, local regulations must be followed regarding disposal. After the tank is drained take the time to clean it following directions in the instruction manual. Replace and degas a fresh batch and you are ready to resume operations.

A Wrap-up on Selecting Ultrasonic Cleaning Solutions

We’ve touched on but a few examples of ultrasonic cleaning solutions available to solve virtually any cleaning challenge.

Contact the scientists at Tovatech who are ready to assist you in selecting the correct formulation for your operations – as well as the ultrasonic cleaning equipment that does the job most efficiently.

Cleaning Solutions for Ultrasonic Cleaning Tasks - Elma Ultrasonic Cleaners (2024)


What is the best cleaning solution to use in an ultrasonic cleaner? ›

We recommend UP 132-B, a mild phosphoric acid solution designed to safely clean at low temperatures. This environmentally-friendly detergent is commonly used on brass instruments but is suitable for many other applications. It's compatible with copper, aluminum, stainless steel, bronze, plastics, glass, and ceramics.

Can you put anything in an ultrasonic cleaner? ›

The first requirement the item must be one that won't be damaged by immersion. The second requirement is that the item must be able to dry easily. What can you clean in an ultrasonic cleaner? Any hard durable content “glass, metal, plastic, ceramic and some electrical.

Can I use dish soap in ultrasonic cleaner? ›

If you are trying to remove dirt from jewelry, a cleaner such as dish soap may be appropriate . For parts with grease and contaminants, we offer a proprietary water based cleaning solution that will get the job done.

What Cannot be cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner? ›

Certain Gemstones: Certain gemstones like opals, pearls, emeralds, and some types of turquoise are delicate and can be damaged by the ultrasonic cleaning process. Some Plastics: Not all types of plastic are suitable for ultrasonic cleaning.

Can I make my own ultrasonic cleaning solution? ›

Fill the tank with distilled water, ensuring that your items are fully submerged. Add 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the water. The vinegar helps break down dirt and grime. Add a few drops of dish soap.

Can I just use water in ultrasonic cleaner? ›

Sure you can use tap water in an ultrasonic cleaner, or I do in mine. Using purified, or filtered water is typically only necessary with devices that the water goes through a filter, some tubing, or has a lot of small parts the water goes over/through like coffee maker, or a humidifier.

What liquid to use in ultrasonic cleaner for electronics? ›

Selecting your Ultrasonic PCB Cleaner Solution

For PCB cleaning we recommend elma tec clean A1 formulated to clean PCBs, mother boards, electronic parts, fine optics and plastics. Elma tec clean A1 should be diluted to 3 to 10% with water before use.

Can I use isopropyl alcohol in an ultrasonic cleaner? ›

The short answer almost always is, NO, don't do this. It can be extremely dangerous.

Can you use hydrogen peroxide in an ultrasonic cleaner? ›

Studies have shown that using an ultrasonic cleaner with hydrogen peroxide is more effective than brushing your dentures. With the Dental pod, I recommend using our sterilizing tablets instead of peroxides.

Can I use CLR in an ultrasonic cleaner? ›

Yes! Heavy Duty Cleaner & Degreaser makes an excellent parts solution. In tank style parts washers, mix 3:1 water to Heavy Duty Cleaner & Degreaser. In dip tanks & ultrasonic parts washers, mix 25:1 water to Heavy Duty Cleaner & Degreaser.

What is one of the drawbacks of ultrasonic cleaners? ›

However, ultrasonic cleaning is not without its drawbacks. One of the potential issues is that it can cause overheating, cracking, or warping of your parts, especially if they are made of thermoplastic materials or have thin walls or delicate features.

What happens if you put your finger in an ultrasonic cleaner? ›

It will feel to you like a mild electrical shock. And it will remove the dirt from deep within your skin and the oils you don't want to leave your finger in the ultrasonic cleaner for very long because it will clean the oil right out of your skin and you'll wind up with a very dehydrated finger.

Can I clean my diamond ring in an ultrasonic cleaner? ›

Diamonds are among the hardest gemstones and can be safely cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner. However, it is vital to check for any loose stones or damage to the jewelry before cleaning. Silver is a soft metal that is prone to tarnish. Ultrasonic cleaning can help to remove tarnish and restore the jewelry's shine.

Should you use distilled water in an ultrasonic cleaner? ›

For the best possible results, we should use DI water in all stages of a counter-current multi-stage cleaning system to avoid re-contaminating parts. This will also leave a spot-free surface behind when dry. It's important to understand that not all parts can be cleaned only with DI water.

Can I use Windex in my ultrasonic cleaner? ›

You certainly can. You might want to put a cover on it if it does not have one. You can also use Simple Green, soap and water (easy on the soap!), and most of the surfactant cleaners.

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