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How Do Ultrasonic Cleaners Work?

When cleaning delicate items, traditional methods might not be sufficient. That’s where ultrasonic cleaners step in, but how exactly do ultrasonic cleaners work?
At the heart of an ultrasonic cleaner lies a process called cavitation, which is the formation and subsequent collapse of tiny bubbles in a liquid when exposed to ultrasonic waves. These waves are high-frequency sound waves with frequencies above the range of human hearing, typically around 20 to 400 kHz.

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Here’s how it works:

The Bath

Items to be cleaned are placed in a bath filled with a cleaning solution. This solution can be water but often includes detergents or solvents tailored to the cleaning task.


The ultrasonic cleaner contains a transducer, usually a piezoelectric one, which generates the high-frequency sound waves which are then transmitted into the cleaning solution.


As these waves pass through the liquid, they create alternate high-pressure and low-pressure waves. During the low-pressure phase, tiny bubbles or voids form in the liquid. These bubbles grow in size until they are unable to absorb any more energy, at which point they collapse or explode violently.

This implosion releases tremendous amounts of energy in a small area, creating intense localised jets of liquid. These jets effectively scrub away dirt, grease and other impurities from the surfaces of items placed in the bath.

Cleaning Action

The process of cavitation creates a scrubbing action that reaches into even the tiniest crevices, removing contaminants without the need for abrasive scrubbing. This makes a large ultrasonic cleaner from a specialist like https://www.hilsonic.co.uk/ ideal for cleaning intricate items or components with complex geometries.

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Rinsing and Drying

Once the cleaning cycle is complete, it is usual to rinse items with clean water to get rid of any remaining cleaning solution. They can then be dried with gentle heat or air.


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