Magnasonic Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner
At a Glance:
Cost: $69.99 USD
Typical Cost: $40 USD
Power: 100-120 V
Warranty: 1 years
I've written elsewhere about my love of inexpensive jewelry that looks expensive. But my collection has lost its luster. I've tried various methods to shine and polish it, but I haven't been happy with the results. I needed a new approach, and I thought that ultrasonic cleaning might be just the thing!
Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaning
Professional jewelers use ultrasonic cleaners to clean the vast majority of jewelry. They also charge you for it. Lower-cost home units are available, but before purchasing one, it's a good idea to understand how they work, so you know their strengths and weaknesses.
Ultrasonics are very high-frequency sound waves. These waves create compression waves in the liquid solvent used to clean the jewelry and rip it apart, leaving millions of microscopic vacuum bubbles. (If you want to know more about this, look up "cavitation.") These bubbles collapse with absolutely incredible energy, creating temperatures on the order of 5,000 K (over 4,000 degrees C) and 135 MPa (1376 kg/sq cm) can be achieved. It is this collapse the does the cleaning. This sounds dangerous, but because the bubbles are so small, they just remove surface dirt and contaminants. The higher the frequency, the closer the bubbles are to each other, and the better they clean.
Limitations of Ultrasonic Cleaning
Because of the incredible force generated, objects with cracks or scratches can be damaged further or even destroyed. And some jewelry, such as genuine pearls, emeralds, amber, and opal, all of which are porous, should never be cleaned with ultrasonics. The solvent will be pushed deep inside the gem and destroy it! Fortunately, like everything else about me, my jewelry is plastic and fake as can be! It only looks nice.
Ultrasonic cleaning will also not remove tarnish stains. Tarnish is an actual chemical change in the metal caused by a reaction between the metal and the atmosphere or moisture. Ultrasonics can only remove dirt and contaminants, so other methods must be used to restore tarnished pieces. But ultrasonic cleaning can remove any cleaners used.
Ultrasonic cleaners are typically a few hundred dollars and quite large. This makes sense for a jewelry shop, but not so much for a single girl on a budget. Enter the Magnasonic, which is small and lists for $70.00 but is typically sold for $40. It is a steal at either price:
It contains a removable basket, which is nice because you can take it out and easily rinse off any detergents or other cleaners you use.
Its operation is straightforward. Place the jewelry you want to clean in the basket, place the basket in the Magnasonic, set the cleaning cycle, and press start. You can stop the cleaning at any time by hitting the off button.
The "cleaning" cycles advertised by Magnasonic are really just time settings. You have a choice of 90, 180, 280, 380, and 480 seconds. The unit defaults to 180.
One of my favorite jewelry pieces is the "Bimbo Choker," which I got from Be a Bimbo. It's beautiful and sparkly, but I've worn it so much that it has become absolutely coated with foundation and powder from my makeup. It looks so awful I can't wear it anymore! I've tried many times to clean it with a toothbrush and cleaning liquids, but without success. This was going to be a tough test of Magnasonic's cleaning ability!
To do the test, I used water mixed with a little Dawn dishwashing liquid. I knew it would be tough, so I ran the Magnasonic at the maximum time of 480 seconds. I saw immediate improvement, but it wasn't enough. I had to run this through the machine 10 times before I was happy with the results. But now it looks as good as new, and I couldn't be happier:
I then proceeded to clean the rest of my jewelry collection. None of these were as dirty as the choker, and I finished the entire process in 30 minutes. Each piece looks absolutely fantastic once again and with only one pass through the machine required for each one (and at a lower time setting).
I have some pretty big necklaces, and I was afraid they might not fit in the basket, but the Magnasonic was big enough for every piece I own.
After using the machine, I ran across more recommendations for using it. Several people recommended spraying hard to clean pieces with Windex window cleaner. (This contains ammonia, which is one of the main ingredients in professional jewelry cleaning compounds). I can easily believe this could have shortened the time I spent on the "Bimbo choker." People are divided on what cleaner to use. Some recommend Dawn, and others recommending the far more expensive dedicated jewelry cleaners. I was happy with the results I got using Dawn.
Of course, you are not limited to cleaning jewelry. Anything that is eligible for ultrasonic cleaning and will fit in the machine will work: Kitchen items, circuit boards from your workshop, keys, glasses (without scratches or breaks), keys. The list is endless.
There are concerns about the sturdiness of the unit. I've only had it a week, so it's hard to say. It seems reasonably well made for the price, but it is just a plastic case. I suspect that, with care, it should last quite a while. I will revisit this if anything happens to change my mind.
So let me know what you think and if you have tried other jewelry cleaning machines. To do that, you can message me on Twitter