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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 recommend using Microfibre Swabs ahead of anything else. Reading the right side column, will help you understand why I recommend and use microfibre swabs and cloths in the workshop.

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 liquidAfter much testing different types I settled on
DUST-AID ULTRA CLEAN as my preferred cleaning fluid.
It is fast evaporating, non-volatile and travel safe.

Small bottles have been produced, especially for us, by Dust-Aid Ltd USA and are included with our kits.

Some particles and smears require a slower acting, more penetrating liquid, in order to dissolve sticky matter.
To get what we wanted in the end meant mixing our own, and PRO-CLEAN is the result. The liquid is mixed to our own recipe, with just the right amount of cleaners, alcohol and surfactants, before being carefully filtered and bottled.

Use the liquids is explained in the kit guides, but it is basically straight forward.
After removing a new swab from the foil packaging, you apply a few drops of
Ultra-Clean to each side of the swab edge. The sensor is then wiped, in one sweep, from side to side. The swab is turned and the wiping repeated. Occasionally a very dirty sensor may need repeated cleaning, but is most cases once will be sufficient.

We made a short movie showing how it is done.

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.

And the winner …
Having good experience with MicroFibre cloths we decided to make and test a microfibre hooded swab.

By using optical quality material, and, by having a dry swab, we could apply liquid of our choice and volume.

The result is the swabs we use today - SafeWipe Swabs - and these have been produced at a factory specialising in Clean-Room products.

SafeWipe swabs are made using finely woven microfibre cloth. They are individually wrapped, easy to manoeuvre, and made in sizes for use with all sensors.

Since we introduced our swabs several other types, with various types of swab material, have come onto the market. They are all good, however, microfibres are, in my opinion, superior.

Using a new ultra clean swab and applying the fluid best suited for the job, means you get the best option for a good result.

Learn more about microfibres and how they clean, here!

NEW sensor cleaning kits now available Visit online shop