What Solution Should I Use With My Ultrasonic Cleaner?

Do you know that using ultrasonic cleaners are effective in cleaning a lot of items and objects in your home and office? Cleaning solutions have a large influence on the cleaning process and ensure more effective cleaning.

  • Ultrasonic cleaning solutions can remove tons of contaminants that water alone can’t. Is the contaminant you want to remove on the list?
  • There are different types of ultrasonic cleaning solution, including acidic solution, alkaline solution, neutral solution, and more. Which is the perfect type for your item?
  • Choosing the right cleaning solution for your ultrasonic cleaning machine and items depends on some factors like contaminant type, contaminant nature, and more. How and why?

Cut the chase, read further, and learn more!

Different Types of Ultrasonic Cleaning Solutions


There are different types of ultrasonic cleaning solution. These include the acidic solutions, alkaline solutions, high caustic solutions, de-ionized water, enzymatic solution, neutral solution, and mildly alkaline solutions. Let’s expatiate more on them so you can have a general knowledge of the solutions available.

Ultrasonic solution type


Acidic solutions

5.0 pH or lower, and formulated for removing lime deposits, scale, rust, and mineral from ferrous metals

Alkaline solutions

10 pH or above, and used for cleaning tin, brass, zinc, copper, stainless, steel, cast iron, and steel

Enzymatic solutions

Formulated to remove protein-based contaminants from plastics, glass, aluminum, brass, titanium, and stainless steel

High caustic solutions

Works well at removing heavy waxes, oils, and grease from steel, cast iron, and stainless steel

Neutral solutions

Helps to remove pigments, grease, dust, and other organic compounds

De-ionized water

It can be used on any material safely

Specialized cleaning solutions

Often used to remove resins and waxes, soot and smoke damage, and maintaining first-responder equipment and firearms

1. Acidic solutions – These are solutions that have a pH of 5.0 or lower. They are formulated for removing lime deposits, scale, rust, and mineral from ferrous metals. This type of ultrasonic cleaner solution is not for machines made with materials that are susceptible to corrosion. If your ultrasonic cleaner tank is not protected, do not use the acidic solutions. You can protect the tank using a plastic insert.

2. Alkaline solutions – This type of ultrasonic cleaning solutions often have a pH of 10 or more. They can be used for cleaning tin, brass, zinc, copper, stainless, steel, cast iron, and steel. You can also use the ultrasonic cleaner solution to clean plastic materials, ceramics, and glass.

3. Enzymatic solutions – these are the type of ultrasonic cleaning solutions that are used in food and medical industries. They are formulated to remove protein-based contaminants from plastics, glass, aluminum, brass, titanium, and stainless steel.

4. High caustic solutions – After using the moderate alkaline ultrasonic cleaning solution and it doesn’t work, the high caustic solutions can be used. It works well at removing heavy waxes, oils, and grease from steel, cast iron, and stainless steel.

5. Neutral solutions – These types of solutions for ultrasonic cleaners are used to remove pigments, grease, dust and other organic compounds from all rubbers and metals, glass, and plastic. They also work well with jewelry, precious metals, and ceramics.

6. De-ionized water – This ultrasonic cleaner solution can be used on any material safely. De-ionized water work well on rubber, plastics, glass, fabrics, and metals.

7. Specialized cleaning solutions – Sometimes these solutions for ultrasonic cleaner are made available to take care of certain cleaning tasks. They are often used to remove resins and waxes, soot and smoke damage, and maintaining first-responder equipment and firearms. 

Furthermore, the formulation of the ultrasonic cleaning solution can be classified into two groups, and these are the demulsifying formulation and the emulsifying formulation.

    • Demulsifying formulation -

      When using demulsifying formulation oily contaminants from the items you are cleaning comes to the surface of the tank where they can be removed — removing the oily contaminants extend the performance of the cleaning solution. Using this kind of ultrasonic cleaning solution formulation will require that you drain the tank, clean it and refill it.
    • Emulsifying formulation –

      the way contaminants are removed when emulsifying formulation are used as ultrasonic cleaning solution is different. The contaminants are held in suspension and accumulate in the solution over several cleaning cycles. This continues to happen until it starts affecting the efficiency of cleaning. The accumulated contaminants often come out with your items when you bring them out of the tank. It means a rinsing cycle will be required to ensure you achieve the level of cleanliness you desire. Also, you might need to drain the solution in the tank, clean it and refill it with another ultrasonic cleaning solution.

What Are The Contaminants That Can Be Removed By Ultrasonic Cleaning Solutions?


There are lots of contaminants that can be removed from an item this includes:

  • Old paint or tarnish on copper, brass and other surfaces

  • Dirt, soils, and fingerprints on optics

  • Contaminants on dental and surgical instruments

  • Lapping, polishing and grinding of items and parts that are fabricated

  • Contaminants such as powders and much more on firearms

  • Grime and grit on your valuable items such as jewelry and vinyl LP records

  • Salt, soldering residues, and other residues on scuba gear, PCBs, and other items

  • Grit, grime, and grease on drive train components, engine components, and other instruments, tools, or items

  • Stains and dirt from fabrics

How to Choose the Right Cleaning Solution for Your Ultrasonic Cleaner

With the different solution formulation and types of cleaning solutions for ultrasonic cleaners available, it can be daunting to select the one that is perfect for your machine and items. There are some key factors you need to consider for you to make the right choice of ultrasonic cleaning solution. This includes what the contaminant is, the contaminants nature, the item you want to clean, steps involved after cleaning, and rinsing steps.

1. What is the contaminant type you want to remove?

Above, you have seen the different types of contaminants ultrasonic cleaning solution can remove. But do you know that one solution type cannot get rid of all the contaminants? There is a difference between removing coolant and chips from an item and removing tissue and blood residues from a surgical instrument, isn’t it? Of course, it is! So, you need to know the type of contaminant you want to deal with, so you can choose the perfect solution to use with your ultrasonic cleaner and get rid of the contaminants easily.

2. The contaminants nature

The nature of the contaminant you want to remove will determine the type of ultrasonic cleaning solution formulation you should use. For example, if you want to get rid of contaminants like grease or any oily contaminants, you will need an emulsifying cleaning solution formulation. This will cause the oily contaminants to floats so you can remove them from the solution easily without the need to drain the tank and clean it every time.

3. The item you want to clean

The item you want to clean can also help you choose the right solution to use with your ultrasonic cleaner. Take note that every item that you can wet safely can be cleaned by ultrasonic energy. You can clean polished surfaces, rubber, precious metals, fabricated metals, iron and steel casting, glass, ceramics, and plastics. Do not clean items that are plated with chromium ultrasonically.

4. Steps involved after cleaning

The post-cleaning steps can also be a determinant to ultrasonic cleaning solution selection.

  • It is possible that nothing happens so you will just clean and reinstall
  • You might need to remove residues of the solution by rinsing
  • There may be no residues
  • Government agency or professional association steps can be recommended
  • The protection of the surface such as temporary rust protection may be required

5. The steps involved in rinsing

It is done by immersing your cleaned item or product in the ultrasonic rinsing tank and washing with water spray. This washes away the residuals that are caused by drag out. While doing this, ultrasonic cleaning solutions that are specially formulated to remove rust should be used. Alternatively, rust inhibitors should be added to the rinsing tank or the solution.

What Cleaning Solutions Should You Avoid?

 cleaning solution

You should avoid using flammable liquids with your ultrasonic cleaner. Do you know why?

The ultrasonic uses a cavitation process, and this process generates heat which can result in dangerous conditions. However, there can be exceptions sometimes. Cleaning some items or equipment requires that cleaning residue should be absent completely. Such items can include inkjet cartridges, medical and surgical instruments, printed circuit boards, and surgical implants that are newly manufactured. To get the required cleaning result, you may need to utilize flammable solvents such as toluene, MEK, and IPA. Take note that all these solvents can cause an explosion in an ultrasonic cleaner.

Some explosion-proof ultrasonic cleaners are designed specially for this cleaning task. The design of these types of ultrasonic cleaners ensures that the flammable ultrasonic cleaning solution does not come in contact with the internal electronics that can cause ignition in the tank. The spark source is fully isolated in high-density foam to prevent solvent vapor or spilled solvent from getting near it. Additionally, ultrasonic cleaners that are explosion-proof need a controlled environment.

How to Get the Best Result from Ultrasonic Cleaning Solutions

If you want to get the best results from your ultrasonic cleaner and cleaning solutions, some factors can help you. It includes having the perfect tank size, the cleaning cycle length, managing the ultrasonic cleaning solution type used, selecting the best operating temperature, and choosing the correct frequency for operation. Keep the following in mind if you desire an optimal performance from your ultrasonic cleaning solution and cleaner.

    • Allow the correct and right amount of cleaning time – If you want to achieve the desired level of cleaning with your cleaning solution and ultrasonic cleaner do not use less than the required cleaning time.
    • Maintain the proper operating temperature required by the cleaning solution and material – Ensure you maintain the optimal level of heat required so as not to degrade the cavitation process 
    • Do not use fresh ultrasonic cleaning solutions for each cleaning – if you notice that the solution is degrading, fresh solutions are required as degraded agent or solution can slow the cleaning process.
    • Select the correct ultrasonic cleaning solution – as mentioned, the type of contaminants, contaminants nature, the item you want to clean, and the cleaning you desire will help you make the correct selection of solutions to use.
    • Make sure the machine is degassed after filling it with fresh ultrasonic cleaning solution. This will eliminate any hindrance in the cleaning ability which can result from dissolved or trapped oxygen in the solution.

When Can You Change The Ultrasonic Cleaning Solutions?

Cleaning solutions should only be changed when required or necessary and when can that be? When you notice that the cleaning cycle is not effective again or there is a decrease in its effectiveness you can change the cleaning solutions. Also, if you notice that the fluid contains debris or dirt and it is in a great amount it means the tank needs to be filled with fresh solutions. Take note that you need to clean the tank of the ultrasonic cleaner after draining the solution and before filling it with another ultrasonic cleaning solution.

What Cleaning Solution Should You Use For Your Item?

    There are many cleaning solutions made available by different manufacturers. But knowing the exact and perfect one that fit your items and the contaminant you want to remove from them can give you the best, expected, and desired result.

    Before making a purchase go through the different types of ultrasonic cleaning solutions and how to choose the right solution section of this article to be sure of what you are looking for. Once you are convinced of what you want, check the different stores to see the cleaning solution product that will work well for your best ultrasonic cleaner and the items to clean.

    Finally, we know that getting an ultrasonic cleaning solution can most of the time be expensive. Fortunately, you can make use of ingredients you already have at home to create a homemade cleaning solution. But you still need to be sure of what you are mixing together so as not to damage the ultrasonic machine and your items.