The development of ultrasonic machines and cleaning dates back 70 years when a laboratory at the Radio Corporation of America discovered the cleaning action of ultrasonic energy. The technicians were using freon to cool radio components when they observed a wave action around a crystal operating at 300 kHz. The concept was not actively applied as a cleaning mechanism at the time until the 1950s when ultrasonic cleaning machines were developed. The pioneers began by designing machines with a frequency of 18-40 kHz, and later in the 1980s, commercial systems were invented that operated at 25-40 kHz. Modern technologies have spawned the invention of systems with higher frequencies (up to 45 kHz) that are portable and designed for both domestic and industrial use. Here, you’ll find five different models of the best ultrasonic cleaners from $17 up to $130.

What You Will Learn from This Guide:

How it Works

Ultrasonic cleaners use a process known as cavitation to clean items. This process occurs when ultrasonic energy leads to the rapid formation and collapse of cavitation bubbles. The electrical energy is converted to ultrasonic energy through the transducer, leading to the creation of high-frequency sound waves. The bubbles induced by high-frequency sound waves stir through a liquid, causing dirt, oil, rust, pigments, dust, and other contaminants adhering to items made of glass, ceramics, rubber, metals, and plastics to come out. The idea is to alleviate all the traces of contamination embedded on the jewelry or other items. Regular cleaning solutions like dishwasher soap can be added to the ultra-sonic cleaner, but some users prefer adding ammonia or a degreaser. The efficiency of the transducer determines the amount of time spent cleaning the items and how fast the surface gets clean. Poor quality transducers increase the cleaning cycle and the power consumed.

What to Look for When Buying

  • The Size

Check the capacity of the tank; it should match your cleaning needs. Ultrasonic cleaners with tanks that have a capacity of 600-750 ml are ideal for basic cleaning purposes. Industrial cleaning may require larger tanks.

  • The Frequency

Ultrasonic cleaners are designed with the right frequency and power for various operations. As such, when buying the device, consult a qualified ultrasonic dealer to help you choose the right machine for your application. Most cleaning applications require a frequency of 40-45 kHz, but special cleaning requirements like of delicate jewelry items need a higher frequency (68-130 kHz).

  • Cleaning Solutions

The majority of ultrasonic applications are water-based, but users can add solvents or cleaning agents for a faster cleaning process. Ask the manufacturer about the best cleaning solution to use in the machine to avoid destroying the inner wall.

  • The Cleaning Process

The ultrasonic cleaning machine has a set dwell time and temperature usually indicated on the manufacturer's manual. Be sure to follow this guide. Also, look at the cycle time; if you can turn on the heater during the cleaning process, look for a machine that has low cycle times. However, if you are looking for a machine that requires minimal supervision, choose the one that has longer cycle times (15-30 minutes).

Top 5 Best Ultra-sonic Cleaners

Ultrasonic Cleaner, Myriann Mini Cleaning Machine


Myriann Mini Cleaning Machine: photo
The ultrasonic cleaning machine is an excellent option for those looking for a portable and affordable machine for cleaning fragile items like jewelry, eyeglasses, or sunglasses. It's pretty easy to operate; plug in the batteries and press the play button. It uses 2 AA batteries, generating a powerful frequency of up to 40 kHz. Its design allows the cleaning solution to remove all the gunk, leaving your sunglasses, rings, or other items sparkling clean. And, if you don't want to lay the eyeglasses directly into the cleaning solution, the contact lens holder allows you to put the contact lens at full length, exposing all the parts for cleaning. The package comes with a two-head screwdriver for tightening the frame glass in case the screw gets loose after washing.

Pros: Cons:
Its lightweight nature enhances portability; you can carry it to the office or when traveling Too small for cleaning large items like watches
Has a rubber suction leg holder that ensures the cleaner remains firm on the surface  
Does not have a timer  

Famili FM8000WW Ultrasonic Polishing Jewelry Cleaner with Digital Timer


Famili Ultrasonic Polishing Jewelry Cleaner: photo
This ultrasonic cleaning machine is ideal for cleaning waterproof watches, dentures, jewelry, ancient coins, shaver heads, CDs, and DVDs. With a capacity of 600 ml and a vast chamber, you can clean a range of items. The basket protects your items from scratches while the disc hoist ensures the discs remain in place during the cleaning process. The cleaner has five pre-set cleaning cycles (90,180, 300, 480, and 600) that allow the user to choose the appropriate setting based on the nature of the item. It comes with a watch holder accessory that will enable you to lay the piece at full length to expose all the hard-to-reach areas.

Pros: Cons:
Five pre-set cleaning settings The LED light stops after several minutes of use
An automatic shut-off feature  
Large enough to clean a range of items  
It is portable  

Magnasonic Professional Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner, Dual-Wave Heavy Duty Cleaning


Magnasonic Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner: photo
This spacious ultrasonic cleaner is ideal for heavy-duty cleaning hence, can be used for commercial cleaning of jewelry. It uses dual-wave frequency technology that generates quiet and stable circuitry, creating millions of microscopic bubbles for a thorough cleaning of hard-to-reach areas. With the Magnasonic ultrasonic cleaner, you never need to add harsh detergent or scrub off the dirt during cleaning; add tap water, and you are good to go. With up to five pre-set cleaning cycles, you can choose a suitable frequency based on the nature of the material you want to clean. The digital display allows you to count down the length of time it will take to clean the watch, necklace, tools, instruments, combs, and utensils, among other objects.

Pros: Cons:
Has an automatic shut-off feature Not ideal for cleaning glasses that have cracks in the coating
Five pre-set cleaning cycles Items that have a silver coating may lose luster
Can also be used for commercial purposes  

Branson Model B200 Ultrasonic Cleaner, 120V


Branson Ultrasonic Cleaner: photo
The item is excellent for microscopic cleaning of clock parts, metallic machine parts, and electric components, among other small items. The machine operates on 50-60 Hz and is fitted with a five-minute timer that allows a quick and efficient cleaning process. The package comes with a basket where you can place the items for a safer cleaning process.

Pros: Cons:
Great for microscopic cleaning of dental appliances It is tiny
Its lightweight nature enhances portability Is not that durable
The five-minute timer improves microscopic cleaning  

CO-Z 3L Professional Ultrasonic Cleaner with Heater


CO Z Professional Ultrasonic Cleaner: photo
This industrial-grade ultrasonic cleaner is excellent for cleaning large and small items. It is fitted with two powerful transducers of 60 W each. The CO-Z 3L professional cleaner features the latest technology in ultrasonic cleaning that increases its versatility; you can use it for cleaning, cavitation, oxidation, and maintenance, among other uses. What's more, its 3L stainless steel chamber is thick and sturdy, so your items are safe during the cleaning process. For optimal cleaning performance, users can set a cleaning temperature range of 68-140 degrees Fahrenheit and select cleaning time options of 1-30 minutes. It has a dual fuse system protects it from burn-outs caused by frequent turning on and off.

Pros: Cons:
It is versatile Short warranty time of one year
Sturdy construction for industrial use  
The dual-fuse system prevents frequent replacement of the fuse  
Has a digital display  
Reinforced with a cleaning tank on the inner wall  

Comparison Chart

Name Capacity Frequency Weight Price
Myriann
Myriann Mini Cleaning Machine min: photo
300 ML 40 kHz 165 g  $13.99
Famili
Famili Ultrasonic Polishing Jewelry Cleaner min: photo
600 ML 42,000 Hz 9 pounds $32.99
 
Magnasonic
Magnasonic Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner min: photo
850 ML 42,000 Hz 4 pounds  $29.96
Branson
Branson Ultrasonic Cleaner min: photo
150 oz 55 Hz 87 pounds  $122.61
CO-Z
CO Z Professional Ultrasonic Cleaner min: photo
3L 120 W 40kHz transducer 9 pounds  

FAQs

How Can I Enhance the Cleaning Process?
It depends on the item you intend to clean and the type of ultrasonic cleaner you are using. However, for optimal cleaning, set a suitable temperature and timing for the cleaning process. The size of the ultrasonic cleaning machine and the cleaning solution used also determines how well it cleans the item.

Which Jewelry should I not Clean Using an Ultrasonic Cleaner?
Ultrasonic cleaning machines use sound waves to remove dirt that has accumulated on the surface of your jewelry. As such, not all jewelry materials can be cleaned using this machine. For example, diamond jewelry loses clarity and develops internal damage when cleaned using an ultrasonic cleaner.

How Long Should the Items Remain in the Cleaner?
It depends on factors such as the temperature, solution, the degree of cleanliness required, and the dirt present. For jewelry, experts recommend cleaning them for 5-10 minutes. You will see the dirt removal within a few minutes of use.

Which Cleaning Solutions Should I Not Add to the Water?
Solutions that have low flash points should not be added. The cavitation process works by releasing energy, which is converted to heat and then to kinetic energy. As a result, high-temperature gradients are generated in the solutions. Using flammables, bleach, acids, or other such agents produces even higher temperature gradients that can be extremely risky. Here is a list of effective cleaning solutions:
  • Alkaline Solutions: With a pH of 10 or higher, they are great for cleaning stainless steel, metals, zinc, tin, copper, and cast iron. Alkaline solutions also work well when cleaning ceramics, glass, and plastic materials.
  • Acidic solutions: they have a pH of 5 or lower hence, more aggressive than alkaline solutions. As such, acidic solutions are used for cleaning specific materials, e.g., removing oxides from metals as long as the solution contains inhibitors that protect the base material.
  • De-ionized water: it is great for cleaning all kinds of material-metals, plastics, rubber, glass, and fabrics.
  • High Caustic solutions: these are special alkaline solutions used for removing waxes, heavy grease, and oils from steel, cast iron, and stainless steel.
How Does degassing Aid the Cavitation Process?
Degassing occurs when the gases in the solution are removed, creating a vacuum. Cavitation is only possible when the gases are removed to enable the formation of bubbles in the vacuum. The bubbles collapse once they are hit by the sound waves to release energy that enhances the breaking down of dirt particles from the item.