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Noob watch parts cleaning questions

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Hi All

I know some of the viewers reading this post will cringe when they read this but, keep in mind that I am working on <$10US watches from thrift stores that do not run now. So... a watch that will run for 6 ~12 months before needing to be cleaned again is just fine at time.  

As stated, I am a noob at watch repair/cleaning. I have read a few places about watch cleaning solutions (L&R, etc.) that I should use. The problem is, I am on a budget and I want to spend the right money at the right time. By that I mean I am spending my money on basic tools (screw drivers, etc.) and not $40EU/$50US per liter for watch cleaner and the same again on watch rinse. With that being said, I am seeking help - What chemicals can I get locally (Walmart, Target, Home Depot, etc.) that will work for cleaning watch parts?

Can I use Isopropyl 70% Alcohol?

Can I use peroxide 3%?

Can I use Easy-Off oven cleaner?

Can I use paint thinner?

Can I use concentrated Ammonia (via dilution ratio)? 

Can I use CLR - Calcium, Lime, Rust remover (US based product)?

Can I use lighter fluid?

Can I use carburetor clearer - what type? 

Is there something else that will work that don't know about? Also I found a simple ultrasonic jewelry cleaner for $7 (which I think will be useful)


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Hi and welcome to the forum, Regarding cleaning and the fluids to use, In the beginning steer away from household cleaners as you have no way of knowing how they will react with the different metals in a watch. To start with use either Isopropyl alchohol 99% or carburetter cleaner ( no Residue) or simply use Naptha  (lighter fuel) ronsol being one, there are several to choose from. Remember all these products are highly inflamable so must be used in controlled circumstances. All the above will do the job while you are learning. Once your level of competence gets better then move on to some branded cleaner.  It is best not to use the above chemicals in an ultrasonic as is but put water into the ultrasonic put the chemical in a small jar with the parts and put into the machine keeping the water level below that of the jar. The waves will pass through the jar cleaning the parts. But be carefull as these chemicals are INFLAMABLE.

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I have been using lighter fluid for years with no issue at all. It evaporates completely after use. I also use a small artist paint brush and clean all the parts by hand.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

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