Sonic cleaning is the practice of using sound to remove foreign and undesired materials from an object or group of objects. The process is not new, but has been modified to be used in a number of different ways, such as in the cleaning of jewelry and teeth, which are two of the more common home uses. It has also been used to clean even larger objects, such as industrial boilers. The sound may or may not be in a frequency range that humans are capable of hearing.
The effectiveness of sonic cleaning stems from the fact that all sound is the product of vibration. When vibration is directed towards an object, it has the ability to dislodge materials that are not supposed to be on the object, whether that is dirt, food particles, soot, or any other material that has not bonded to the object being cleaned. While it may not be possible to clean the object completely with sonic cleaning, it should be possible to do a great majority of the cleaning with the technique.
In the case of jewelry, and other small objects, a sonic cleaning machine may be used. Typically, in this case, a piece or multiple pieces of jewelry are inserted into the machine, which is also capable of holding some type of liquid. Typically, the liquid is a sonic cleaning solution that helps to weaken or loosen foreign materials from the object. The sound and the solution work together to provide a thorough cleaning and rinsing.
In the case of teeth, the cleaning process is somewhat different. While putting jewelry in a sonic machine is relatively easy, that strategy cannot be duplicated with natural teeth. Instead, a specialized toothbrush is often used to emit sound directed toward the tooth being brushed, which helps to dislodge any unwanted material. A sonic cleaning brush will be specifically marketed as such, and not all electric toothbrushes will be capable of producing sound suitable for cleaning.
Sonic cleaning systems may cost more than cleaning in a traditional way, but many see it as a matter of convenience and effectiveness. The cleaning may be more thorough and deeper than most can do by themselves. Therefore, the additional expense may be worth it based on the time saved and the better quality of cleaning.
Many retailers that sell jewelry and personal care products also sell some types of sonic cleaning systems. Larger systems and systems that specialize in cleaning bigger pieces of equipment or objects such as walls are often not available from typical retailers. Rather, they must be purchased from specialty dealers or rented from companies that focus in providing that type of equipment.