Ultrasonic activity (cavitation) helps the solution to do its job; plain water would not normally be effective. The cleaning solution contains ingredients designed to make ultrasonic cleaning more effective. For example, reduction of surface tension increases cavitation levels, so the solution contains a good wetting agent (surfactant). Aqueous cleaning solutions contain detergents, wetting agents and other components, and have a large influence on the cleaning process. Correct composition of the solution is very dependent upon the item cleaned. Solutions are mostly used warm, at about 50–65 °C (122–149 °F), however, in medical applications it is generally accepted that cleaning should be at temperatures below 45 °C (113 °F) to prevent protein coagulation.
Water-based solutions are more limited in their ability to remove contaminants by chemical action alone than solvent solutions; e.g. for delicate parts covered with thick grease.The same fluid can be reused many times, minimizing waste and pollution.