Can You Use Ultrasonic Cleaner to Strip Metal Miniatures?

ultrasonic cleaner for miniatures

I love collecting miniatures! I have plenty of them in my collection!

And I am proud to own some of them like my “Eiffel Tower”, “Statue of Liberty”, “Warhammer”, “Daemons” and many more.

I also spend good time for cleaning, stripping and repainting my miniatures at least once a year.

And from my personal experience, I can say stripping the paint and coatings from miniatures is the toughest of the most tasks that can’t be performed with simple tools.

But to make the task easy and safe, there are ultrasonic cleaning machines with high-tech features that can help.

Yes, ultrasonic cleaning devices make stripping of the miniatures easy. And if you know how to use the machine safely, you can do it comfortably without damaging your collection.

Typically, these are the cleaning equipment that can be used for cleaning the stains and other impurities that are hard to remove by any other means.

Not only for miniatures, but ultrasonic cleaning can also be used for stripping the paint from metal objects like old tools, machinery, automotive parts, airbrushes, and many more.

Ultrasonic Cleaning for Miniatures – How It Works?

The ultrasonic cleaner machine works automatically to create millions of microscopic bubbles for cleaning the items.

The bubbles generated are small enough so that it reaches every microscopic crevice to clean the miniatures very effectively.

After the few minutes of the cleaning cycle, the machine’s auto shut feature shuts off the unit automatically.

When you are using an ultrasonic machine for cleaning the metal miniatures, you need to make sure that:

  • The item you are wishing to clean is dirt free and wiped off before you place them in a digital ultrasonic cleaner device
  • Never turn on the unit without the water or cleaning solution in it
  • The unit should not be left unattended while in operation – it should be kept safely out of the reach of children
  • You use only the approved cleansing solution should. Any deviation from it can wreak damage on your items to be cleaned

Usually, an ultrasonic cleaning process (in an ultrasonic cleaner device) can take from two minutes to thirty minutes to get completed.

It actually depends on the type and condition of the miniatures you have for cleaning.

Frequency Range for Stripping Miniatures

In general, ultrasonic cleaning devices are designed to operate in three frequency ranges: 25 to 40 kHz, 40 to 70 kHz, and 70 to 150 kHz

An ideal frequency range at which an ultrasonic cleaning system should be operated usually depends on what type of items you want to clean and the quality of cleaning you need to achieve.

While the lower frequency and stronger cavitation seem to be impressive, it should be noted that stronger cavitation produced may damage the intricate parts and also the ultrasonic cleaning tank.

  • 25 to 40 kHz frequency range provides faster scrub cleaning and is suited only for parts that do not have delicate intricate details
  • 40 kHz is the best suited for most of the items (having intricate details or orifices) that needs a regular cleaning job
  • 70 to 150 kHz frequency is recommended for cleaning of most sensitive items that need very fine gentle cleaning

The good thing is – these devices can help in cleaning a large number of items very quickly.

What are the Best Machines to Strip the Miniatures?

Since there are many brands and products available to buy, you need to identify your needs and figure out what you want to get exactly.

Below are three good cleaning devices that I found useful for stripping miniatures.

1- iSonic Ultrasonic Cleaner

iSonic P4820 is a great commercial grade ultrasonic cleaner with a heater that comes with 2.5L tank capacity.

IMO, this is one of the best paint stripping machines you can buy for refinishing your old miniatures.

It includes a stainless-steel wire mesh basket and a built-in heater option for achieving the most efficient cleaning results within no time.

  • 5 working cycles to choose (90, 180, 280, 380, 480 seconds)
  • Large digital display timer for controlling the cleaning time easily
  • Heater preset at 149F/65C with cooling fan and overheat protector for extra safety

Above all this iSonic P4820 device works quieter than as compared to other competitor’s devices which comes with similar features.

2- DK SONIC Ultrasonic Cleaner

DK SONIC Digital Ultrasonic Cleaner with heater offers professional cleaning results much to the delight of everyone.

The equipment features with 2 transducers that is the reason behind the superior cleaning you get. The adjustable heating element of the device lets the user set the right temperature without risking the parts within.

Few unmatched features that come with the device include:

  • Bigger easy to read digital display
  • Stainless steel body with a small parts basket
  • 5 to 55 minutes of continuous cleaning run-time
  • Built-in heater to heat the solution up to 149 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Built-in frequency sweep feature with automatic shut off feature and 1-year warranty

Overall, this DK SONIC Digital Ultrasonic Cleaner device is good for both domestic and commercial usage and may be acquired from various online stores at an affordable price.

3- Tek Motion or CO-Z Ultrasonic Cleaner

Tek Motion or CO-Z Digital Ultrasonic Cleaner is an advanced multipurpose machine that can be easily used for cleaning various items at home or at stores.

The unit, just like other devices, uses the process of cavitation (which alternates between high and low pressure) for effective cleaning.

The Tek Motion CO-Z unit comes with these best features:

  • 68-140 ℉ cleaning temperature
  • Pre-set cleaning time options (1-30 minutes)
  • Large 15L extra-thick stainless-steel tank for sturdiness and durability
  • 4 industrial grade ultrasonic transducers and convenient temperature settings

Above all this hi-tech device is also backed with dual fuse protection (to prevent the burn-out) and 1-year limited warranty so that you can use the device safely for various purposes.

What Type of Ultrasonic Cleaning Machine Is Good to Buy?

When you want to buy a cleaning machine for miniatures, choosing the right ultrasonic cleaner could be the key to your success.

Opting for a digital ultrasonic cleaner is a wise decision when you are buying the device. It is important to choose a model that is easy to understand and will allow you to operate easily.

Thus, it is advisable to buy a model that has an easy to read digital display panel.

Heater based unit is good to opt for the most advanced cleaning results. As heating enhances the cleaning process it is better to go for a unit that has a built-in heater.

Especially if you want to clean the stubborn paints, oil, lubricants, dirt, etc. opting for a heater based commercial grade ultrasonic cleaner is a wise decision.

Generally, it comes with an additional price and if you can’t afford, you can use slightly hot water in the tank which can serve the same purpose.

The size of the cleaning device is also important when you want to pick one for the stripping of miniatures.

If you make a mistake and order a cleaning machine that is too small to handle your pieces, you will likely end up shelling out extra money in the long run.

Likewise, if your machine is too large, you will have spent excess money that you could have invested elsewhere.


Other Methods That Can Be Used for Cleaning Miniatures at Home

Natural methods for cleaning miniatures at home are always preferred by individuals who are not fans of modern harsh chemicals. Here we discuss few home remedies for cleaning miniatures.

  • When a miniature has just got the dust deposited on its surface, a soft cloth, soaked in water or boiled water, maybe gently rubbed on the affected portion to remove the foreign matters.
  • Another way is just to squirt the ketchup or sauces like tobacco sauce. The acidity in them would remove the tarnish on the metal, which is due to slight surface oxidation. So, go on gently rubbing with a soft cleaning cloth, till the tarnish disappears.
  • If the miniature is stained by oil, then apply some powder like flour or baby powder and allow it to settle for some time so that it absorbs the oily residue. You may also use corn starch powder or baking soda, instead; but remember the abrasive nature of these powders may cause scratches on the skin of the object if rubbed extra.
  • Another method would be to moisten a white cloth with olive/ mineral oil and rub the same gently and generously over the tarnished parts of the material, till the stain gets removed.
  • The ashes of the burnt cow-dung, when applied and gently rubbed on the miniatures will also have a good cleaning effect and can be tried out for cleaning old miniatures naturally.

If the above methods for cleaning the miniatures do not give successful results, you may try to give the material a hot vinegar treatment.

Cleaning miniatures with vinegar is very efficient and can be tried out for cleaning the antique items at home.

For this you need to boil the vinegar solution in a stainless-steel vessel, submerge the object in the same for about 30 seconds or more, till the tarnish goes off.

Then, allow it to cool and rinse to remove the vinegar traces from the item. Wipe it out and finally polish it dry.


Can You Clean and Strip the Paint of with Other Chemicals?

The task of cleaning and removing the plating (on miniatures surfaces such as plastic or metal parts) can also be accomplished by using strong chemical solutions such as Hydrochloric acid (muriatic acid), Sulfuric acid or Sodium Hydroxide.

But as these solutions are highly volatile, toxic, and even carcinogenic, care has to be taken while employing this method.

You should also be careful while cleaning with these chemicals as these can damage the product forever.

A weak paint coating can also be removed by using household products such as homemade abrasive, an oven cleaner, a household bleach, an automotive brake fluid, etc.

Proper handling and care are much needed while utilizing these methods and products as these are toxic in nature and can harm your body or product that needs to be free of paint.

Besides all the above, methods such as abrasive blasting, sandblasting, bead blasting, etc. can be utilized which can help you to remove the plating from the required product.

A fine-grain medium is used in this process for blasting the surface so that there the underlying metal does not get any damage.

Although all the above processes are easy to do, this cannot be done without professional help.

It is therefore important that you should take proper care and get professional help (if needed) to get the job done. This will safeguard your body as well as protect your product from getting damaged.

The Bottom Line

Ultrasonic cleaner device and technology used, has made cleaning of items lot easier than what it was before.

The best thing about using an ultrasonic cleaning machine for stripping the miniatures is – you can do all the cleaning single-handed at your home without the need for any professional advice or help.

Basic precautions are however essential to take, while you are using the device. Care that it is well placed and the settings you use while cleaning/stripping are appropriate.