When it comes to achieving a truly deep clean, you can’t beat ultrasonic cleaning. Here’s how to do it:
- First, fill your ultrasonic cleaner with water and your cleaning solution
- Run the cleaner for about five minutes; this is called de-gassing
- Place your jewelry in your basket or other holder and clean for three to five minutes
- Finally, rinse with clean water and gently pat dry
At this point you may be asking yourself some other questions, like:
- How do I choose the right ultrasonic cleaner?
- What cleaning solution should I use?
- Are there any safety concerns with ultrasonic jewelry cleaning?
- What kinds of jewelry can I put in my ultrasonic cleaner?
Choosing your ultrasonic cleaner
If you’ve done any looking at all, you know there are about a hundred different cleaners out there. For my money, it comes down to this: reputation and service. If I’m going to spend good money on a jewelry cleaner, I want something that will last, and that I can get serviced here in the USA. Amazon and other sites are flooded with cheap Chinese knockoffs – and some of them might be OK, but I don’t want to place a bet, I want clean jewelry.
The brands that I know and trust, and sell on my sites are Branson, Gemoro, and Sonicor. There are all dependable companies that make great cleaners, and have service centers here in the US.
Let’s say you have your cleaner and you’re ready to go – now what? Safety first, always. Here’s a few tips:
- ALWAYS fill your cleaner with water and cleaning solution before plugging it in or turning it on. Running an ultrasonic cleaner with an empty tank will destroy it.
- Never place your hands into a running ultrasonic cleaner.
- If your tank has a heater, the water will be HOT. So will your jewelry when it comes out.
Jewelry cleaning, Step by Step
OK, now we can start cleaning. First, actually read the manual that came with your cleaner. Different cleaners have different features, and you may miss out on something that will help you clean your jewelry quicker or more completely.
- Fill your tank with hot water, or if it has a heater, fill it and turn the heater on. Hot water not only cleans better on its own, but ultrasonics works better with hot water as well.
- MIx in your cleaning solution if you are using one. You can also try cleaning with plain water if you like.
- Run your cleaner for five minutes empty. This is called de-gassing, and will give you much better results if you take the time to do it. This will also thoroughly mix the solution and water.
- Place your jewelry in the tank, using a basket or other holder. Never place jewelry directly on the bottom of the tank – this is where the transducers are. Also, if you just drop your jewelry in there, how will you get it out of a tank of hot water?
Don’t crown your jewelry – ultrasonics will cause your pieces to move slightly, and you don’t want them rubbing against each other. If you have a lot of jewelry to clean, run multiple batches.
- Remove your jewelry and rinse off the cleaning solution, then pat dry.
What kind of solution goes in your ultrasonic cleaner?
Maybe none! If you feel like plain water works for you, go for it, but most people get better results using a solution of some kind. All good jewelry cleaning solutions have a couple of things in common:
- A surfactant – this is something that breaks down the surface tension of the water and lets the solution really get down into the nooks and crannies for deep cleaning. They also work great with ultrasonics.
- A saponifier – this breaks down the soils and helps separate them from the jewelry for easy removal.
My favorite homemade cleaning solution
Lemon Fresh Joy – That’s right, just a tsp for every pint of water in your cleaner will do the trick for most jewelry. It’s safe, mild, and even smells good.
We always recommend Gemoro or Branson jewelry cleaning concentrates. These are the solutions that your jeweler is using, and a single bottle is a lifetime supply for most people.
When to change your solution, and where it goes…
Most jewelry cleaning solutions are biodegradable and can be disposed of like any other soap. You should change your solution at least after every five uses, and more often if it looks dirty or cloudy.
How often should you use your ultrasonic cleaner?
As with most things, it depends. Most people clean their everyday jewelry a couple times per month, and special pieces before wearing them to those special occasions. IF you make a habit of removing your jewelry before gardening, housework, and other chores, you can stretch this out.
What not to put in an ultrasonic cleaner
Great as they are, ultrasonics are not good for everything. Softer stones can be damaged, and older costume jewelry can come apart if it has glued parts. Here’s a list of jewelry and gems that you should NOT put into your cleaner:
- Gold or silver inlaid jewelry
- Gold or silver filigree
- Old costume jewelry
- Antique jewelry
If you have any doubts, always ask your jeweler first.