Author Topic: Ultrasonic Cleaner for Cleaning/Smoothing Key Switches  (Read 748 times)

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Offline Kavik

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Ultrasonic Cleaner for Cleaning/Smoothing Key Switches
« on: Wed, 28 November 2018, 22:34:34 »
I've seen a few threads on GH about cleaning keycaps with an ultrasonic cleaner and one in which XMIT cleaned dirty ALPS switches with one.

I'm thinking of getting one to clean some MX Blacks I got from TKC's batch of Cherry G80 harvest PCBs. The PCBs are a bit dusty, and the switches are decent but not incredibly smooth. Does anyone have experience with putting disassembled MX switches in an ultrasonic cleaner? Does this help with MX switches in terms of making them smoother? Do I need any special solvent or cleaning agent?

Online LightningXI

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Re: Ultrasonic Cleaner for Cleaning/Smoothing Key Switches
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 28 November 2018, 22:39:14 »
I've seen a few threads on GH about cleaning keycaps with an ultrasonic cleaner and one in which XMIT cleaned dirty ALPS switches with one.

I'm thinking of getting one to clean some MX Blacks I got from TKC's batch of Cherry G80 harvest PCBs. The PCBs are a bit dusty, and the switches are decent but not incredibly smooth. Does anyone have experience with putting disassembled MX switches in an ultrasonic cleaner? Does this help with MX switches in terms of making them smoother? Do I need any special solvent or cleaning agent?

You won't need any solvents or cleaning agents in the tub of water. The ultrasonic action is really what does the work.

It's okay to put all the pieces into the ultrasonic cleaner, as long as you remember to take out any parts with metallic pieces and put them to dry so as to not cause them to corrode from being submerged for a long period of time (in case you forget).

The use of a sonicator is simply a slightly better way to clean these switch parts than using, say, denture tabs. Sonicating will dislodge smaller dust and crud particles that may be stuck on the pieces.

Online JianYang

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Re: Ultrasonic Cleaner for Cleaning/Smoothing Key Switches
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 28 November 2018, 23:46:31 »
A surfactant will help remove oils, so I add a bit of dish soap. (Make sure to rinse it out thoroughly with clean water)
While you have them open, you might as well lube them.

Offline garbo

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Re: Ultrasonic Cleaner for Cleaning/Smoothing Key Switches
« Reply #3 on: Thu, 29 November 2018, 01:21:50 »
The surfactant does more than remove oil, it reduces the surface tension of the water to promote cavitation. You can get special ultrasonic cleaning fluids but standard dishwashing detergents do work fine.

Offline TheGlyph

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Re: Ultrasonic Cleaner for Cleaning/Smoothing Key Switches
« Reply #4 on: Thu, 29 November 2018, 02:58:05 »
I refer to my ultrasonic as a "placebo cleaner." In extensive and moderately scientific tests it has shown to offer zero performance increase over just rinsing things in soapy water, but it sure does feel like it makes them cleaner!
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Online vegs

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Re: Ultrasonic Cleaner for Cleaning/Smoothing Key Switches
« Reply #5 on: Thu, 29 November 2018, 03:40:14 »
A few weeks ago I tried cleaning out a particularly dirty batch of vintage MX Blacks. I first tried with some standard dishwasher soap, but the results were pretty bad.

I then added some of this stuff, and tried again. The solution helped get rid of all the gunk and old lube on the switches. Highly recommended :thumb:

I agree though in most cases dish soap does seem to do the trick. But for real filthy stuff something stronger seems necessary.
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Offline wholypantalones

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Re: Ultrasonic Cleaner for Cleaning/Smoothing Key Switches
« Reply #6 on: Thu, 29 November 2018, 06:52:34 »
I usually just throw them in some 99% alcohol. No rust, it evaporates and it cleans the crap out. No issues so far.

Online JianYang

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Re: Ultrasonic Cleaner for Cleaning/Smoothing Key Switches
« Reply #7 on: Thu, 29 November 2018, 07:44:11 »
I refer to my ultrasonic as a "placebo cleaner." In extensive and moderately scientific tests it has shown to offer zero performance increase over just rinsing things in soapy water, but it sure does feel like it makes them cleaner!

I can see oily residue being emulsified off dirty parts in mine, definitely gets into small cavities that I would not be able to clean otherwise.

The surfactant does more than remove oil, it reduces the surface tension of the water to promote cavitation. You can get special ultrasonic cleaning fluids but standard dishwashing detergents do work fine.
I know, but I am way too lazy to explain all that.

Offline HouseofSuffering

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Re: Ultrasonic Cleaner for Cleaning/Smoothing Key Switches
« Reply #8 on: Thu, 29 November 2018, 09:37:25 »
I am a firm believer in the powers of the ultrasonic cleaner.

I bought a cheap one off Amazon and some actual ultrasonic cleaning solution and it does wonders with very little effort on my part.

here are some pics I have on my phone of some Vint black that I cleaned before selling to someone.





huge difference.


Offline HouseofSuffering

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Re: Ultrasonic Cleaner for Cleaning/Smoothing Key Switches
« Reply #9 on: Thu, 29 November 2018, 09:48:37 »
and some Hirose Bottoms I did a comparison on.




with a UV Flashlight to show that this residue that was on all the swithces was completely removed.


Offline Kavik

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Re: Ultrasonic Cleaner for Cleaning/Smoothing Key Switches
« Reply #10 on: Thu, 29 November 2018, 10:49:54 »
Thanks for the replies, everyone. Definitely helpful!  :thumb:

Offline Kavik

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Re: Ultrasonic Cleaner for Cleaning/Smoothing Key Switches
« Reply #11 on: Fri, 11 January 2019, 10:51:37 »
I finally got one of these, a 120W 3.2 liter model. I cleaned some MX Blacks in it, and I can't tell a difference. I don't know if that's because they are just scratchy and not dirty or because I didn't clean them right. I did two batches: one with two offbrand camelbak cleaning tablets and dishwashing detergent and one with two tablets and dishwashing liquid (lathering kind one uses when washing in the sink).

Possible sources of error: I only washed them for 8 minutes a piece, and this wasn't long enough for the water to get above ~35 degree C. Cleaning tablets weren't completely dissolved the first time.

As another test, I put the bottom piece of my Aeropress in it and cleaned it for 20 minutes @ 50 degrees C with just the dishwashing liquid. It cleaned maybe half the gunk off of it (it had some weird brown [coffee?] gunk in the crevices).