Help – Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner Doesn’t Clean or Remove Tarnish

by Jane Jennings.

Help - Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner Doesn't Clean or Remove Tarnish  - Discussion on Jewelry Making Journal

Ring needing detailed cleaning

I have an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner (Boque systems, 1259), but find it doesn’t do much, either on tarnish or on dirty jewelry.

I have 2 filigree white gold rings which get gunked up and are very hard to get clean.

I run the machine over and over again, with little result.

I do use the recommended cleaner in it.

See picture – sorry it is not too clear, but may give you the idea.

Maybe this model is too cheap?

Anyone else have this experience, or recommendations for machines that really work?

Jane Jennings

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  1. Hi Jane, I haven’t used an ultrasonic cleaner myself. But I have heard of people having trouble with ultrasonic cleaners if the detergent solution is the wrong type or needs to be replaced with a fresh batch. Or if the temperature isn’t right. Or if it needs to have a de-gassing procedure done.

    Has your cleaner previously worked well, and just stopped? Or has it never really done a good job of cleaning?

    Hopefully someone with experience in ultrasonic cleaners will share some insights here! 🙂

  2. Judy Bjorkman says:

    Jane, my first thought is that an ultrasonic cleaner is not meant for removing tarnish. It’s meant for removing the gunk from wearing jewelry or from wheel-polishing it. I’d recommend your Googling “ultrasonic cleaner” and get the manual for your model of cleaner (if you don’t already have it). Also look through other information there (Wikipedia on this, is way too detailed!). This is some advice I got from the site at, long ago, from someone who had your experiences: “…Finally someone kindly told me that when you put in a fresh batch of water and cleaner, there are bitty air bubbles in the water, and nothing will happen. So – if your sonic does nothing – do this: put in fresh water, [+ the cleaner] turn on the heater if it has one and wait a few minutes until it makes happy sonic noises. Before that happens, it isn’t capable of cleaning. Test with aluminum foil. Stuff doesn’t clean well if it is in a plastic basket that absorbs the sonic vibes.” If you can get onto Ganoksin and look in their archives, there’s a lot more stuff. Good luck!

  3. Be careful putting jewelry in an ultrasonic machine. Same goes for steamers. Many of your stones are very easily cracked or broken. Gems like opal and fluorite can even crack just going from a warm house out into the cold. Just make sure you know what stone is in there beforehand. I personally only use warm water, mild dish soap, and a toothbrush. If you’re sure you have .925 (sterling silver) you can dip a polishing cloth or q-tip in tarn-ex and clean the metal. Make sure you wash it well when you’re done. Try not to get that nasty stuff on any gemstones unless you’re sure of what they are and that they won’t absorb the chemical. Once its clean, store it in a sealed ziplock bag. Air is the enemy. You can also put an anti-tarnish strip in the bag too.

  4. Do you have an old electric toothbrush? Not knowing what the stone is, I would heat up some soapy water with a tiny drop of ammonia and scrub the inside and outside with the soft electric toothbrush. The soft bristles may be able to reach the gunk in the setting. Rubbing the white gold surface with a “Sunshine” tarnish cleaning cloth will get rid of the surface tarnish without harming the stone. Or, take it to any professional jeweler and they will usually clean it for free.

  5. I have used a tumbler with all kinds of jewelry, pearls, gold silver (not opals), I have powder mixture and it all comes out sparkling. For copper and brass I use “works”, it’s an acid, it’s cheap, use gloves and keep the water running. It does not work on silver.

  6. DZappala says:

    Tarn-X works perfectly on silver.

  7. I have cleaned my silver and gold with toothpaste….. Yes toothpaste, not the gel kind but the gritty kind, usually Crest. I use a tooth brush and Kleenex, then a cloth, like flannel to dry, after I put then under the fawcett. I clean my diamond ring that way too. Fine it a try.

  8. My jewelry teacher always uses Fantastic.

  9. As someone above has said, ultrasonic machines are not meant for tarnish removal, just cleaning. I recently purchased this machine off Amazon and it works specifically at removing tarnish. Must tell you that if the tarnish is severe, you may have to do it a few times AND use an anti-tarnish cloth afterwards to get rid of tarnish that the machine “loosens” up. Hope this helps.
    Speed Brite Turbo Ionic Jewelry Cleaner 200SB

  10. I would not subject a stone like the one in your ring to an ultrasonic machine. Use a good silver polish like Hagerty’s or a good jewelry wipe (I use Connaisseurs) and clean around the stone. Chemicals are not good for stones. Ionic machines like the one Anita recommends are said by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong, a wirewrapping expert, to be safe for all stones and jewelry.

  11. I use Jewel Brite tarnish remover (a cream) and Jewel Brite Jewelry Cleaner (a liquid). Both are safe for all stones and are biodegradable. I use a battery-powered toothbrush to get in all the cracks and crevices. If the jewelry is dirty and slightly tarnished, soak for a few minutes in the Jewelry Cleaner, use the toothbrush to get in crevices, rinse and dry. If the jewelry is really tarnished – as in black – use the cream on a damp toothbrush, rinse and dry. I’ve successfully used both products on everything from pearls to turquoise to diamonds. You can find them at

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