Ultrasonic cleaners employ a new method of cleaning via sound waves. These cleaners emit high-frequency sound waves that transmit through the aqueous solution of the cleaner to remove contaminants like rust, paint and oil from metal surfaces due to the vibrations. We have studied ultrasonic cleaning and observed that ultrasonic waves periodically produce low and high pressure fronts on the metal surface. The low pressure front initially causes formation of air bubbles. The high pressure front follows by breaking the bubbles and buffing away the contaminants. The effectiveness of cleaning can be enhanced by adding a detergent to the water that chemically reacts with the metallic surface too.
Things You’ll Need
- Bench-top ultrasonic cleaner
- Rusty parts
- Cleaning solution
- Remove the basket of inner parts of the ultrasonic cleaner and fill it with water.
- Then, add cleaning solution to the water. The type of solution is dependent upon the material you have to clean. The ultrasonic cleaner manufacturers sell compatible and appropriate cleaning solutions as well.
- To mix the solution evenly with water, allow the cleaner to run for 10 minutes before use.
- Take any rusty object that you have to clean and is small enough to fit into the cleaner. It could be a tool or a car part.
- Use a cloth to wipe away loose rust particles from delicate parts, or a wire brush from stronger parts to enhance the effectiveness of the cleaner.
- The basket removed earlier should be filled with the parts needed to be cleaned. Keep in mind that the cleaning solution can damage any rubber, plastic or wiring that is adjoined in the parts you are cleaning. If that is the case, it advisable to remove all incompatible objects.
- Place the basket back inside the cleaner such that the objects are immersed in the cleaning solution. Allow the parts to soak in the solution for at least 30 minutes. As the ultrasonic waves are transmitted, they cause minute jets of water to break against the metallic surface and remove the rust. This results in bubble formation and water becomes dirty depending upon the layers of rust on your objects.
- After the cleaning procedure is complete, take the basket out of the cleaner and rinse all parts with water to remove any cleaning solution from the surface.
- Carefully inspect the particles to ensure thorough cleaning and removal of all rust. There is a possibility of small patches of rust still clinging in some heavily rusted objects. To clean them further, the whole process can be repeated again with them in a fresh solution.
- The cleaning solution is not safe for disposal as it is. Consult your State and local regulations for waste disposal and neutralize the solution before disposing it off.
Tips & Warnings
- The ultrasonic cleaner has the added advantage of being able to clean small and intricate parts like ball-bearing assemblies and carburetors, with elaborate parts that could not be reached and cleaned manually.
- Ultrasonic cleaners are easily available in a variety of designs including simple tank-and-basket designs to more complicated models containing oil skimmers and agitating baskets. Various retailers now sell these ultrasonic cleaners.
- The cleaning solution used in the ultrasonic solution is a strong liquid that can be caustic to skin and clothing. Observe precaution like wearing gloves while handling the solution and placing or removing the basket from the cleaner.