Ultrasonic cleaning

My ultrasonic cleaner came up in the thread about wheel storage (of course, right!). So, just forking the thread here so that it’s more findable later.

I used to use a plastic Park Tool chain cleaner, but it’s seriously messy business. I read in forums about ultrasonic cleaners and thought I’d give it a go. I bought a 3L unit off Amazon for about $70. It’s large enough for chain and 11-28 cassette in the same cycle. If you ran larger cogs, you might have trouble getting it fully submerged.

My protocol is:

  1. Fill cleaner with hot water and add a squirt of dish detergent and degreaser. Heat up to about 120f/50c.
  2. Take bits off the bike and drop in the cleaner and run a cycle for 10-15 mins
  3. Take the bits out and put them in a bucket with warm soapy water and give them a scrub with a dish brush
  4. Return them to the ultrasonic cleaner and run for another 10-15 min cycle.

While all that is running I wash my bike on the stand in the driveway. By the time the drivetrain is cleaned, so is the bike and I put the bits all back on and leave it to dry in the sun for a bit. Everything comes out amazingly clean and it’s a lot less mess and hassle.

Any other experiences with ultrasonic cleaners out there? Anyone do something different in terms of process?


I got on the ultrasonic cleaner wagon earlier this year myself. Works wonders on chains and drivetrain parts! Have to admit though, I generally don’t take the chain or cassette off the bike to ultrasonic clean it. I’ll only clean them that way if I have those pats off the bike for some other reason. Otherwise, a hose, citrus degreaser, and a brush works just fine during the season for weekly cleanings.


Thats what I used to do, but made my driveway/front yard all messy with grease == not happy wife

Dang, I was eyeing a 3L ultrasonic cleaner on Amazon… but I ride an 11-32 cassette. It would suck to order it and find out my cassette doesn’t fit. :frowning:

(slowly moving over to waxed chains, although still evaluating whether wax is best on my commuter bike or not)

@matthew.weigel According to this site, a 32 is 8mm wider than a 28. Just fill the tank a little higher, you’ll have no trouble :smile: I was talking more about the dinner plate cogs you can get on 1X drivetrains. :plate_with_cutlery:

Ah, okay. Disaster averted! :laughing:

1 Like

I think ultrasonic cleaning the cassette is overrated. They clean up just fine with soapy water and a bristle brush. Chains, though, totally worth it, especially if you start waxing them. I think mine is a 1.5L or 2L model and it’s sufficient for chains and all the small cogs if you insist. The large cogs just need 2 cycles, rotated so different parts are submerged.

1 Like

Agree it’s not essential, but by the time I’m all setup to clean the chain, it’s nothing to whip the cassette off and dump it in. I wouldn’t do it just for the cassette.


Off topic, but what is that tool board? I’m in the market for one to tidy up my pain cave/man cave currently

It’s two 16*16 pegboards I got from Lowes:

I also got an accessory set, something like this:

Total investment was less than $50 and about an hour to put it up. Great to keep everything nice and tidy and within easy access.

Here’s my process which differs on a couple key steps:

-Heat water on the tea kettle
-Remove chain and cassette. I run a zip-tie to keep the cassette together and reduce fiddle factor.
-Put the bike hardware in a zip-lock bag, pour in preferred cleaning agent. I use Simple Green.
-Put zip-lock in the ultrasonic cleaner and then add the hot water to cover the parts fully.
-Run it on the longest setting.
-Remove hardware, rinse it off, pour out “dirty” Simple Green.
-Pour in fresh Simple Green, pop it back in and repeat the cycle.
-Once done, I will rinse again under hot water, blow it off with an air compressor (really gets in the crevices of the chain and hang dry.

This process has a couple key benefits: you don’t burn up the heater on the ultrasonic cleaner to heat the water from tap temp. The kettle does the heavy lifting and the ultrasonic can just keep it hot and then secondly, by putting the hardware in a zip-lock you use a lot less cleaning agent than you would filling the whole tank, the hot water still fills the basin so the “sonic” effect can be conducted and then you don’t have to clean out your tank because all the mess happened inside the zip-lock which gets tossed.

I do a couple chains at a time and then wax. I don’t always clean the cassettes each time, especially now that i wax as it doesn’t often need it but it’s easy. Between the waxing and the cleaning I’m getting roughly twice the lifespan out of my chains/cassette, my wife doesn’t complain about grease stains on the carpet, I don’t mess with chain cleaning/lubing ever, and oh by the way, there’s some saved watts allegedly. Seriously, if you’re not waxing by now…


Does that pegboard come with mounts to go straight onto sheetrock? Or did you have to space it off? I’m off to Lowes tonight … and that looks pretty ideal.


Sorry, I don’t recall exactly what is included regarding mounting. For the price I would say likely not, but a few bucks on drywall anchors and you should be set.

Sorry if this is a dumb question that has been asked already. Is it possible to take a new chain and use the ultra sonic cleaner to remove the factory grease and prep it for waxing?




That’s insufficient. Hit it with mineral spirits a couple of times then finish with denatured alcohol to get all the remnants off.



Well that’s ANOTHER gadget I need to add to the bike bits and bobs then.

In all honesty I was looking at them to go to waxed chains as on this small island there is salt everywhere and I’m fed up scrubbing drive chains of chain lube, road and MTB.

1 Like

Do it. It’s an easy maintenance step that saves chain ring and cassette wear as well. The cost of an ultrasonic cleaner, $10 used crock pot and a years worth of wax will be saved in lube and degreaser expense alone.

Folks is there any reason not to drop the jockey wheels in the ultrasonic cleaner? My Red AXS has ceramic bearings, do I remove the bearings from the jockey wheels. I’m assuming it is best to remove the bearing from the jockey wheels?