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How to Make Clock Movement Cleaning Solution

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The clock movement is the arrangement of gears and wheels that runs a mechanical clock. Each part interacts with another, ultimately moving the hands, chimes and other features of the timepiece. The motion of the parts produces friction that requires adequate lubrication. Over time, even well-lubricated movements collect dirt and dust that interfere with the proper working of the clock movement. The movement must be cleaned using a specially prepared clock movement cleaning solution.

Place the 1-quart container in a well ventilated area. Pour the oleic acid into the container. If pure oleic acid is unavailable, Murphy’s Oil Soap may be used a substitute, as it is essentially the same substance, and works well as an ingredient in clock movement cleaning solution.

Add the acetone to the oleic acid. Slowly pour the ammonium hydroxide into the mixture of oleic acid and acetone. Do not pour too quickly, or the mixture will splatter. Ammonium hydroxide, 26 degree Baume, is a common, commercially available preparation of ammonia. The 26 degree Baume refers to the strength of the solution, and is equal to a solution that contains roughly 30 percent ammonia by weight.

Let the mixture stand for a few moments after adding the ammonium hydroxide. Clumps of soap-like material will begin to appear on the surface of the mixture. Lightly cover the opening of the 1-quart container. Do not seal it airtight. Leave the mixture in the container for about two hours, or until the clumps have completely settled out into the mixture.

Pour one gallon of water into the large container. Add the contents of the 1-quart container to the large container to form the clock movement cleaning solution.

Things You'll Need:

  • 1 quart container
  • 4 ounces oleic acid
  • 8 ounces acetone
  • 12 ounces ammonium hydroxide solution, 26 degree Baume
  • Large container – 5 quarts or more
  • 1 gallon water


If using the clock movement cleaning solution in connection with an ultrasonic cleaner, dilute the finished solution with an additional one quart of water.

If making larger or smaller amounts of clock movement cleaning solution, increase or reduce the ingredients proportionally.


  • Wear rubber gloves when working with ammonium hydroxide. Avoid breathing in the fumes.
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