Posted on by Tycho Smith

How to clean your DSLR lenses and the camera Sensor


The lens of your camera is the window for your photography. No matter how careful you are with taking care of your camera, dust happens – you’re inevitably going to get dust or smudges on your lens over time. A dirty lens means smudged, blurry or occluded pictures, all of which will affect the quality of the images you take. Instead of trying to “Photoshop” out of the dust and smudges, here are the proper ways to clean a DSLR lens.

Pro Tips: While you should clean your lenses on a regular basis, do not clean it unnecessarily (definitely NOT daily) to avoid potential scratches or damages from contact.

STEP #1: DE-DUST

TOOLS: Air blower (a must have lens cleaning tool), and a soft brush/cleaning pen

The first step is to blow off any little particles from your lenses (front and back). The air blower is the ideal tool as it avoids direct contact with the lens, and is therefore less likely to scratch your lens.

Hold the air blowers a couple of inches away from the lens and blow a few air puffs across the lens surface.

Do this to the lens surface, as well as the rear element.

Do NOT use your mouth as the air blower as you can blow saliva and bacteria onto the lens!

Sometimes the blower may not be sufficient, and you will need a soft brush as well: gently brush the lens surface to remove dust.

Do NOT touch the brush tips before using it to avoid getting oils from your fingers to the lens, which can be challenging to remove.

STEP #2 SMUDGE REMOVAL

TOOLS: Dedicated Lens Cleaner (Cleaning Fluid), Microfiber Cleaning Cloths

After removing dust from the lens, you can now use a piece of microfiber cleaning cloth to clean the lens surface and the rear element thoroughly.

Make sure to keep the microfiber cleaning cloths clean, as you will not want to use a dirty cloth on your lens. You can wash the cloth, but do NOT use softener to avoid leaving behind a chemical residue on the fabric.

An alternative is to use disposable lens cleaning tissues.

When choosing a cleaning fluid, stick with a solution made with denatured alcohol, as detergent/water-based fluid only works with water-soluble smudges - and can potentially make certain smudges much worse. You can check the lens manufacturers’ recommendation, as they often market specially formulated cleaning solutions.

Simply apply a few drops or one spray of cleaning fluid onto the microfiber cleaning cloth – Do NOT spray or pour cleaning fluid onto the lens directly.

Then gently and steadily wipe across the lens surface and the rear side. Finally, let it air dry.

STEP #3 SENSOR CLEANING (FILTER CLEANING)

If the image still has a smudged spot, you may need to clean the sensor. If you are not comfortable with doing this, please contact a professional for help.

If you want to try it yourself, you can use the following steps – but remember to be patient and careful.

To test whether you have any sensor dust, take some pictures of a blank wall or blue skies with the smallest aperture. Then look at the images on your computer (preferably in Photoshop) to see if there are any “dark spots.”

1. Try the camera’s auto cleaning. Many DSLR cameras come with an auto clean mode. Before you turn on the auto cleaning, make sure that your camera battery is fully charged, because if it turns off in the middle of a cleaning job it may damage the sensor or shutter.

2. Dry Cleaning. Just like we already did to the lens above, dry cleaning is step one to get rid of any tiny particles on the sensor. Again, make sure the camera battery fully charged.

To access the sensor, you can usually find the “cleaning mode” listed under settings as “sensor cleaning” or “mirror lock.” When you turn it on, you can hear a flip sound and see the sensor exposed.

Use one hand to point the camera vertical or downward to avoid getting more dust on the sensor and use the other hand to hold the air blower and gently puff a few air bursts.

3. Wet Cleaning. If you have to proceed to this step, make sure you purchase a specialized sensor cleaning kit and refer to the information on the manufacturer’s website about proper sensor cleaning.


Conclusion

We hope this article explains how to clean your lens and sensor in a helpful and straightforward way. If you need the proper tools to do the job, check out our DSLR Cleaning Kits below.