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Ultrasonic Cleaner

In the past few years, the price of ultrasonic cleaning technology has dropped so low that a cleaner costs less than most power tools. Nowadays, you can buy an ultrasonic cleaner like the Sonic Wave CD-2800 for just $20 — and while it’s billed as a jewelery cleaner, you could just as easily clean small parts with it.  Just drop the parts in the one-pint stainless steel tank; the Sonic Wave’ll blast ’em for three minutes with 42kHz waves, then automatically shut off.

Ultrasonic cleaners work by creating cavitation bubbles in the cleaning solution. When these bubble collapse they release a lot of energy which breaks up and removes dirt from the objects in the solution. This means two things: the ultrasonic cleaner will clean faster and more uniformly than you could, and it removes dirt from all the nooks and crannies that you’d have a hard time reaching with anything else.

The Sonic Wave’s $20 price tag doesn’t include cleaning solution. Most retailers claim you can use water, but you’ll definitely get better results using the proper solution, which is also inexpensive and available at most places that sell this unit.

Street Pricing [Google Products]
Ultrasonic Cleaner [Harbor Freight]
Via Amazon(B000GTQUAO) [What’s This?] [What’s This?]


16 Responses to Cheap-Ass Tools: Ultrasonic Cleaner

  1. tooldork says:

    I boil a vinegar and water solution and have been able to remove rust from nuts, bolts and even delicate and intricate door hardware with great success.

  2. Old Coot says:

    tooldork: Would appreciate more details, such as ratio of vinegar/water and typical amount of time for reasonably good cleaning. Thanks in advance.

  3. james b says:

    I’ve done electrolysis rust removal with a battery charger and some Arm & Hammer laundry soda in a plastic tub of water. Clip the positive lead to a steel plate (I’ve heard a stainless steel skillet works well) and the negative to your part. It makes an electrical field in the water so get the steel plate facing the part and fire it up, then turn the part after a while. It should bubble hydrogen gas a little bit and the rust just sheets off the part. I did some steering knuckles like this.

    I’ll have to play around with boiling vinegar and water on small parts. My ultrasonic cleaner didn’t do much to clean my bolts or air-brush parts.

  4. eschoendorff says:

    I have never used the HF ultrasonic cleaner, but I have also never heard glowing remarks from anyone who did. That boiling water/vinegar idea sounds like it is definitely worth trying!

  5. Matt says:

    I have one similar. Doesn’t work at all. Buzzes away but doesn’t clean anything.
    Not at like a proper one.

  6. toolmonger says:

    Old Coot – Not an exact science, but I’ll pour an ounce or two for a small sauce pan. I’ll generally reach boiling point and then turn burner to low and wait till I see that most has been removed.

    The only caveat is that if you don’t clean/dry it upon removing, it may rust. But, even then, I just put it back in and it will be removed.

    Generally, I’ll use an old toothbrush to remove the stuff in the nooks.

  7. Old Coot says:

    Thanks…gonna try it as soon as wifey isn’t too close to the kitchen.

  8. bob says:

    We have an expensive ultrasonic cleaner at work & it never gets used because it doesn’t do a very good job. These might be good at cleaning finger gunk out of jewelry, but they won’t work for much else.

  9. SuperJdynamite says:

    I use Simple Green and hot water in my cleaner. It works really well.

  10. SuperJdynamite says:

    “Clip the positive lead to a steel plate (I’ve heard a stainless steel skillet works well)”

    Don’t use stainless steel. It has the potential to release chromium into the electrolyte solution. This is bad.

    When I do this I get a thin rod of hot or cold rolled steel from the metal section of a big box store. I bend it into a spiral around the side of a five gallon bucket. I think rebar will work, but then I couldn’t bend it into a spiral shape.

  11. Jeff says:

    I agree with SuperJdynamite. Stainless and also knives or steel that is brittle (as to hold an edge) usually contains Chromium, which is toxic. They usually also contain many more elements that are toxic.

    What a great idea to use spiral rods.

  12. Stuart says:

    I have used a mix of ethanol and water to clean up dirty metallurgical samples in the past. Good quality cleaners can even work loose diamond particles that become embedded during polishing.

  13. ds says:

    I’ve had good luck removing rust from small parts with a little vibratory tumbler. First it goes in with some pyramid shaped plastic bits that knock off the junk, then it goes through again with a polishing compound. The kit was about $75.

    I’ve also read about putting parts in a crockpot with water and detergent. Haven’t tried that yet, but when my current batch of pork and beans is finished, I might just.

  14. song says:

    I have bought the ultrasonic cleaner for $50 but it dosen’t work at all. I coundn’t see any bubbles at all. It’s just waist of money.

  15. Phill says:

    to see if your Ultrasonic cleaner is working turn it on (with water in it) an lower a piece of aluminum foil in it. If will dent up in little pockets where the molecules are ‘hitting’ it.
    Only leave for about 30 seconds or it will blow tiny holes in it.
    Hope this helps those that want to test their US cleaners.

  16. lionel says:

    please send me the new catalog on ultrasonic cleaner thanks address 34 dante avenue hicksville n.y 11801

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