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SafeWipe Sensor Cleaning Swabs

Wet cleaning is the next step in sensor cleaning and becomes necessary when bits, such as pollen, are stuck on the sensor surface, that dry-cleaning fails to remove. It is also the only way to effectively remove smears and oily spots.

Click to see close view of swab head.With the right tools and the right instruction there’s no need to be frightened of wet-cleaning the camera sensor.
Yes, you need to take care and to make sure every other cleaning step has been carried out, before attempting wet-clean.

By always exposing test images at each cleaning step, you will quickly learn whether the spots are loose particles, stuck bits or smears.

I have been using Microfibre Swabs for several years (see right side column), due to the effectiveness of microfibres.
However, new swab types are now on the marked that are very effective. But my advice is to stay clear of polyester swabs, due to static and wetting properties.

So how do you use the swab?
With the mirror up and shutter open in Sensor Cleaning Mode (refer to your camera instruction manual), you gain access to the sensor surface. To be totally correct, it is not actually the sensor itself that is cleaned, but rather the filter which covers it. But I will refer to it as the sensor.

Cleaning the sensor inside the cameraTop-bottom cleaning of sensor surface.The surface may be cleaned by wiping from side to side or from top to bottom. Normally side to side is the easiest, but on some cameras there’s more room to wipe from top to bottom.

You will find more recommendations in the guides supplied with the cleaning kits, and sometimes in the camera user manual.

Swab size vs sensor size:
Regardless of size all sensors can be cleaned with the 17mm
Standard size swab. On larger sensors you simply wipe two or more times to cover the entire area.
However, if yours is a full frame camera (24mmx36mm) you would probably choose the
24mm swab since it covers the entire area in one sweep.

Cleaning Liquid:
Dust-Aid Ultra Clean sensor cleaning liquidFor several years I have been using
DUST-AID ULTRA CLEAN as my preferred cleaning fluid.

It is fast evaporating, non-volatile and travel safe.

Some particles and smears require a slower acting, more penetrating liquid, in order to dissolve sticky matter.
The use of Kodak or Tiffen Professional Lens Cleaner has been effective, but new products for newer camera sensors are now marketed by other companies, such as  The Dust Patrol.
Below is short movie showing how I clean with swabs.

About swabs - the quality, type and use!


by Ben Vang

Various wet-cleaning methods have been promoted over the years, from tissue wrapped spatulas to fluid filled swabs.

The criteria for any optical cleaning tool is that it must be SAFE, contaminant free and effective. We tested all methods on that basis.

Tissue wrapped spatulas were low cost and did work, but there was too much handling and the risk of contamination high.

Cloth or sponge type swabs would not fully remove particles, but merely wipe the bits out to the side of the sensor, without removing them.

Pre-wetted and filled swabs seemed a good idea at first, but when tested, these swabs would often leave streaks behind on the surface. The swabs were not easy to manoeuvre, and too much liquid was easily applied, risking seepage into the sensor.

The winner …
Having good experience with MicroFibre cloths we decided to test microfibre hooded swabs.

By using optical quality material, and applying liquid of our choice and volume.

The result was SafeWipe Swabs produced by a manufacturer specialising in Clean-Room products. For the last 10 years SafeWipe swabs have been sold by us and used by technicians all over Australia.

But all good things come to an end. So, with the closure of my business of cleaning products, a new supply is needed.

I would like to recommend that clients take a look at the products produced by  US company The Dust Patrol. Their swab design is excellent and the material is a good substitute for microfibres.

NEW sensor cleaning kits now available