Your browser is out of date.

You are currently using Internet Explorer 7/8/9, which is not supported by our site. For the best experience, please use one of the latest browsers.

How Does an Ultrasonic Cleaner Work

Ultrasonic cleaners are essential tools in various industries, offering an efficient and gentle cleaning method for a wide range of materials. In this guide, we delve into the science behind ultrasonic cleaning, explore its numerous applications, and discuss the advantages of this versatile technology. 

Aqueous Cleaning

Components of an Ultrasonic Cleaner

  • Tank: The ultrasonic tank holds the cleaning solution and the parts to be cleaned. It is usually constructed of stainless steel, which is resistant to corrosion and compatible with most ultrasonic cleaning solutions. 
  • Ultrasonic transducer: These devices generate ultrasonic waves (high frequency sound waves) within the cleaning solution. They are usually made of piezoelectric materials, which can convert electrical energy into mechanical vibrations. 
  • Generator: The generator is responsible for producing the electrical energy that drives the transducers and controls the frequency and power of the ultrasonic waves. 
  • Control panel: The control panel allows users to adjust settings such as the cleaning duration, temperature, and ultrasonic frequency. It includes a timer that helps users to monitor and control the cleaning process, ensuring consistent results. 
See All

The Science Behind Ultrasonic Cleaning

A key component in understanding how the ultrasonic cleaning process works is the concept of ultrasonic waves. An ultrasonic wave is a type of sound wave that has a frequency above the human hearing threshold. The frequency used in ultrasonic cleaning is usually between 20 and 200 kHz. The transducers generate these waves in the cleaning solution, resulting in ultrasonic vibrations, which initiate a process called cavitation. 

Cavitation involves the formation of microscopic bubbles within the cleaning solution. These cavitation bubbles form in low-pressure areas of the ultrasonic waves and then implode when they reach high-pressure areas, releasing a significant amount of energy. This energy creates a microscopic scrubbing action that removes contaminants from the surfaces being cleaned. 

The nature of the ultrasonic cleaning process means that the cleaning action is not limited to the visible surfaces of the items being cleaned. The microscopic bubbles can penetrate the tiniest crevices and blind spots, ensuring a thorough, precision cleaning process that is difficult to achieve with traditional cleaning methods. 

Choosing the Right Cleaning Solution

To optimize the efficiency of an ultrasonic cleaner and ensure it's effectiveness for your particular application, it's essential to choose the right cleaning solution. 

There are a couple of key factors to consider when selecting the right detergent. One is material compatibility—the cleaning solution must be compatible with the material being cleaned to prevent damage or discoloration. The second is the contaminant type—for example, harsher detergents are required for removing oil and grease, while dust and dirt removal can be achieved with gentler solutions. 

Most cleaning solutions are water-based, and water is often used alone for gentle cleaning applications. Types of detergents include alkaline, caustic, acidic, and enzymatic.  

Ultrasonic cleaning solutions must be handled appropriately and disposed of to ensure safety and environmental responsibility. Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations for using and disposing of cleaning solutions. 

Applications of Ultrasonic Cleaning

Ultrasonic cleaners have a wide range of applications thanks to their versatility and effectiveness. Some common uses include: 

  • Automotive and aerospace parts: Ultrasonic cleaning is often used to clean engine components, fuel injectors, bearings, and other automotive and aerospace parts. Precision cleaning in these industries can help ensure optimal performance and reduce the risk of mechanical failure. 
  • Medical and dental equipment: Ultrasonic cleaners are widely used in hospitals, dental clinics, and other medical centers to clean and sterilize instruments, ensuring patient safety and hygiene. 
  • Electronics and delicate items: Sensitive electronic components, such as circuit boards and connectors, can be cleaned using ultrasonic technology without causing any damage. 
  • Firearms: Firearms tend to be intricate devices, but using an ultrasonic cleaner can drastically reduce cleaning time while ensuring all parts are completely residue-free. 
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturing: Ultrasonic cleaning is ideal in pharmaceutical applications and offers fast, thorough cleaning for complex components, including valves, filters, and hoses.  
  • Musical instruments: Even delicate musical instruments can be cleaned using an ultrasonic cleaner.  

Ultrasonic cleaners come in various sizes, with different capacities to suit everything from jewelry to tubas.  

Advantages of Ultrasonic Cleaning

When exploring the concept of ultrasonic cleaning, it's essential to recognize its advantages over traditional cleaning methods. These benefits include: 

Thorough and Gentle Cleaning 

The microscopic scrubbing action of ultrasonic waves ensures thorough cleaning, even in hard-to-reach areas. At the same time, the process is gentle enough not to cause any damage to delicate or sensitive materials. 

Speed and Efficiency 

Ultrasonic cleaning can remove contaminants much faster than manual scrubbing or soaking. This can save time, improve productivity, and free up employees to perform other tasks. Improved efficiency can also lead to cost savings in terms of materials, labor, and energy consumption. 

Less Harsh Chemicals 

An ultrasonic cleaner typically requires less harsh chemicals than traditional cleaning methods, making it a more environmentally friendly option. The use of gentler detergents can also reduce the risk of injury to workers and minimize damage to equipment.  

Final Comments

Ultrasonic cleaners work by harnessing the power of ultrasonic energy and resulting cavitation. These devices can effectively and efficiently clean the entire surface area of a variety of materials. With a broad range of applications across a diverse set of industries, it's not surprising that ultrasonic cleaning technology continues to grow in popularity. 

Ultrasonic cleaning can provide a fast, efficient, and environmentally friendly way to maintain the cleanliness and performance of your equipment. By understanding how ultrasonic cleaners work and selecting the right equipment and cleaning solution for your needs, you can take advantage of this innovative technology to improve the quality and efficiency of your cleaning processes. 

Need help deciding if ultrasonic cleaning is right for you? Contact us today. 


Why Choose Ultrasonic Power Corp?

As a “Made in the USA” ultrasonic equipment company, we leverage the latest in technology to ensure our customers get the most effective and efficient ultrasonic cleaning machine solutions. Our products are built with highly durable stainless steel and will outlive and outperform anything else on the market. We provide fit-for-purpose technical assistance, components for preventative maintenance, training, and other support solutions. Our portfolio of products and services differentiates us as an innovative brand with the utmost integrity.

Working with UPCorp is a seamless process, from the moment you contact our team of experts to receipt of your precision cleaning system. And it doesn't stop there as we provide an industry-leading warranty as well as a range of post-purchase support and maintenance services. Find out today how UPCorp can help you improve your operations with a superior industrialultrasonic cleaner.

Learn More About Us
Our Services & Differentiators

Cleaning Test

Send your parts to UPCorp for free evaluation and sample processing in our testing lab. You'll get them back promptly with a detailed process sheet showing how tests were conducted, suggestions for improving current processes, and recommended machinery. After our ultrasonic cleaning test services you will understand the benefits we offer... seeing is believing!

Free Parts Testing


Need assistance in procuring your new industrial ultrasonic cleaner? We offer a variety of leasing options and can provide you with a speedy quote on your estimated monthly payment.

Get Financing