Beginners Guide to Ultrasonic Cleaners

Written by: Maz P
Updated on:
Watchmaking Tools

With daily wear, even the most well cared for timepieces will be subject to dirt and grime. Over time, your watch inevitably accumulates various forms of debris and filth. Even if you think your watch may be clean, your timepiece is regularly subjected to sweat, dead skin, hair and oils alongside dust and other particles.

Neglecting to clean your watch allows this dirt to build up causing your timepiece to lose its luster and aesthetic appeal. This dirt also accelerates the aging process of a watch which reduces the value of the timepiece. Not only does this build up of dirt dull your watch’s appearance, it is also unhygienic to let it build up as your watch is essentially an extension of your hand.

There is no doubt that cleaning is a big part of your regular watch maintenance routine and one tool that can enhance and streamline the cleaning process is an ultrasonic cleaner.

What is an Ultrasonic Cleaner?

Ultrasonic Cleaner

An ultrasonic cleaner is designed to clean watches and jewelry by using ultrasonic frequencies to clean. They stand out as the most optimal and efficient cleaning tools for watches.

They are hailed by watchmakers as the ultimate cleaning solution with the ability to reach the deepest and most hidden areas of any timepiece to ensure a thorough cleaning. An ultrasonic cleaner for watches is a great investment for any watchmaker that also has the great advantage that you can use it to clean any jewelry you may have too.

How Does an Ultrasonic Watch Cleaner Work?

Using ultrasonic frequencies, typically between 20 – 40 kHz, the ultrasonic watch cleaner effectively works to clean timepieces. The ultrasonic cleaner generates ultrasonic waves causing vibrations that give rise to a process called cavitation. During cavitation, tiny bubbles form and implode.

The implosion of these tiny bubbles generates pressure that effectively dislodges dirt and grime from the watch’s surface. This dynamic water movement eliminates and dissolves dirt, resulting in a thorough cleaning of the item.

Do You Need to Use an Ultrasonic Watch Cleaner?

There is no doubt that once you have invested in an extraordinary timepiece, you want to take care of it and that includes regular cleaning. A regular cleaning and maintenance routine ensures that your watch stays in top condition. Whilst your timepiece can be cleaned in many ways, an ultrasonic watch cleaner is one way to make the process quicker and more efficient.

Whilst no, you do not need to use an ultrasonic watch cleaner, using one is an incredible advantage. If you are regularly cleaning your timepiece or you are a watchmaker with multiple watches you work on, an ultrasonic watch cleaner is a huge benefit.

Cleaning your watch with an ultrasonic watch cleaner takes approximately 15 minutes but is a fully automated process allowing you to get on with other tasks whilst the ultrasonic cleaner works. Not only is it a much quicker process than manually cleaning watches, it is also more efficient at performing the job.

An ultrasonic watch cleaner can get into even the tiniest corners that regular cleaning tools would have a hard time cleaning. This ensures that your watch is spotless and receives the best clean for optimal performance and aesthetics.

Considering the value they hold in the world of horology, ultrasonic watch cleaners are also highly affordable. You can pick up a great quality ultrasonic cleaner for under $50 and for an affordable initial investment, you will get a tremendous clean and a tool you can use for years to come. Whilst you do not necessarily need an ultrasonic watch cleaner, if you are serious about watchmaking or taking care of your personal watch, it is a tool that you will reap the benefits from.

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Tank Capacity:
3 Litre
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Tank Capacity:
6 Litre
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$299.99 ($56.60 / kg)
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Tank Capacity:
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How to Use an Ultrasonic Watch Cleaner

One thing to note is that it is important not to place the entire watch in the ultrasonic cleaner as this can cause damage to the watch movements. Whilst it is possible for an ultrasonic watch cleaner to clean the entire watch, it is not advised. Even if your watch is waterproof, the vibrations of the ultrasonic cleaner can cause damage to the movement resulting in inaccurate timekeeping as well as early wear to rubber gaskets that make the watch waterproof.

Using an ultrasonic watch cleaner is great for cleaning watch bands or straps. Using a spring bar tool, you can quickly and efficiently remove the watch band from the watch case. You can also clean watch parts in an ultrasonic watch cleaner as long as the watch is disassembled.

Make sure not to place the most delicate parts into the ultrasonic watch cleaner such as the mainspring, balance and pallets. These parts can be efficiently cleaned using a soft brush or cloth.

Step 1: Disassemble your watch, whether that be simply removing the watch band or disassembling watch parts for a more thorough watch clean. Set aside any delicate parts.

Step 2: Pour your preferred cleaning solution into the tank of the ultrasonic watch cleaner. Typically, stainless steel ultrasonic cleaners have a basket to hold your watch or jewelry during the cleaning process. Place your watch band and any parts to be cleaned into the basket of the ultrasonic watch cleaner.

Step 3: Set the timer and wattage level before turning the machine on. For more ultrasonic cleaners, you want it to run for 15 minutes to achieve the best clean.

Step 4: Flip your watch parts mid-way through the cycle for optimal cleaning. You can do this using a delicate pair of tongs or tweezers.

Step 5: Following the cleaning process, run three rinse cycles to ensure all dirt, grime and debris is flushed away.

Step 6: Remove parts from the ultrasonic cleaner and dry immediately. The parts should be dried individually to ensure that they are completely dry and smaller, more delicate parts should be dried using an air blower.

Step 7: Once dry, reassemble watch.

Using an ultrasonic watch cleaner is a highly effective way to clean your watch in a short amount of time. It reaches the hardest corners within 15 minutes and achieves beautiful results. The watchband gets dirty the quickest so if you have recently worked on your timepiece and cleaned the movements, you can simply remove the watchband using a spring bar tool and clean the strap solo. Regular cleaning will ensure your timepiece stays in stunning condition.

Ultrasonic Watch Cleaning Solution

Whilst regular water is commonly used for ultrasonic cleaning, opting for deionized water offers the best results. Deionized water acts as a natural solvent without the impurities and salts found in regular water. This is crucial as the impurities in regular water can potentially tarnish the watch’s appearance post-cleaning. The purity of deionized water eliminates this concern making it the ultimate cleaning solution for an ultrasonic watch cleaner.

If you are looking for additional cleaning, dish soap is also used as a homemade ultrasonic cleaning solution. The dish soap helps to break up dirt and grime for a more effective cleaning process.

Whilst alcohol is often noted as an effective cleaning solution, it is not recommended for cleaning watches or used in an ultrasonic watch cleaner. Alcohol can negatively impact the inner parts of your watch as well as any rubber gaskets for waterproofing. If alcohol is used, it should be used exclusively for cleaning the surface of the watch face.

Regardless of the chosen cleaning solution, it’s recommended to follow up any cleaning procedure with a thorough rinsing process. Rinsing is paramount to remove residual dirt and other particles that might compromise the watch’s appearance and shine.

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Ultrasonic Watch Cleaning Solution
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Volume:
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Ultrasonic Watch Cleaner FAQ

It is safe to put Rolex parts in an ultrasonic cleaner, however, it is not advised to put the whole watch in. This method of cleaning should only be used for watch bands and disassembled watch parts as it can cause damage to the movement of the timepiece.

There are a variety of solutions that can be used in an ultrasonic cleaner for watches including regular water, deionized water and homemade cleaning solutions. Deionized water achieves optimal results whilst homemade cleaning solutions using the likes of dish soap prove to be extremely effective in the break up of dirt and grime.

Regular cleaning is essential to keep your timepiece in optimal condition, however, how often you clean it varies from person to person. If you wear your watch daily, a deep clean is recommended once a month. However, if you are a watchmaker or collector with multiple timepieces, you can afford to go longer between cleaning routines as they are not subject to the same daily dirt and grime.

If you think I’ve missed anything or have anything to add, please comment below.

AUTHOR

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I started WatchmakingTools to share my passion and knowledge with those already bitten by the watchmaking bug. I’ve often spent hours searching online for answers on a specific issue, and even though there is a wealth of information out there, it hasn’t always been very useful, hence why I wanted to share my own findings.

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