Ultrasonic cleaning

I was wondering if anyone has been cleaning metal type using the ultrasonic cleaning method. If so, I would be interested to hear about the results.

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I use ultrasonic unit to clean my numbering machines. You will need to use a cleaning agent designed to clean the contaminant you desire to remove from the type. If it is dried ink, be careful with any petroleum solvents as they will become heated, increasing their volatility. Some sort of caustic (high pH) cleaner may be effective for ink. Remember to rinse well, dry thouroughly, and give a light coat of light oil to reduce subsequent corrosion.

John Henry
Cedar Creek Press

John is right on; using an ultrasonic cleaner is very effective, see my post from Dec, 19, 2010. I use a dilute concentration of lye, be careful with this stuff, actually read the instructions. And the light coat of oil afterwards is absoutey essential. I also do jewelry!

Thank you John and Dan, I will procure a ultrasonic unit. It’s indeed to get rid of dried ink. I imagine that a rub with a cloth soaked in oil will be sufficient. And I will check out the post from 2010!

Just me but I would completely soak it in paint thinner with a bit of oil mixed in, I found type would corrode if left bare metal. Experiment.

Hello Dan, earlier today I tried paint stripper (a mild one) and had acceptable results, but I had to spent a lot of time brushing and wiping etc. While doing that, I started thinking about ultrasonic equipment as jewelers and dentists etc. seem to be using this equipment.

I also use an ultrasonic cleaner and am pleased with the results. I use “Super Clean” degreaser found at hardware and auto parts stores as the liquid. It is concentrated and can be diluted. It is as John Henry pointed out a strong alkalye and very good at dissolving dried ink. (also very good at cleaning up old presses as it is a very good degreaser)

A method I have used for decades is to take an old (chipped or unwanted) ceramic mug and add warm water. Put in an Efferdent tablet (used for cleaning dentures) and add the article to be cleaned. The tablet will fizz like Alka Seltzer. In the morning you can pour everything out.

I actually use this to clean intricate jewelry (chains, etc.) and it works like a charm. An old antique dealer taught me this decades ago.


Thanks Rick, I will give it a go. I should be able to get something like Efferdent here in the Netherlands as well. Interesting information!