DIY Sensor Cleaning - TUTORIAL

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Hi guys,
thought of sharing with you all how to clean your sensor on your own. Of course... Oly users won't have to clean their sensors... *grrr* Don't u just wish all DSLRs will have Oly's technology?

I strongly recommend sending your camera to their respective service centers for cleaning!

However, for those people who are nowhere near a service center (like me... in Thailand in the middle of nowhere) or for those who dont wish to pay for a clean when your warranty has run out, this might just work for you!

DIY Sensor Cleaning Tutorial

*Disclaimer: I have done this successfully but I will not guarantee (along with other companies who sell their DIY sensor cleaning products) that you will not damage your camera. Please exercise common-sense and follow the instructions carefully before attempting to clean your camera's sensor.

Before you do this, please:
1) Clean your hands
2) Have everything you need ready: Your camera, Blower, A filter, Fresh Batteries/External Powersource, Cable Release *for D100/S2Pro etc, Cleaning Fluid/Chemist's Methanol, Lint Free Lens Tissues, Scotch Tape (or anything of its equivalent), Your Home-made sensor swab stick & Yourself.

Step 1: Making your sensor swab: Choosing the material

Figure 1: Choose a material that isn't too hard or rough. I've chosen a piece of laminated cardboard from a 'Glade' box. Notice that it's smooth and folded. I recommend using a folded piece of laminated card like what I've used. Why? The lamination means it can resist the cleaning fluid - it won't become soft on contact with the liquid. It's also stiff but not rough - the laminated side is really smooth and straight; just what we need!

Step 2: Sizing your sensor swab

Figure 2: I have cut the card to size - approx 22mm x 55mm. The top is tapered and measures exactly at 20mm. This was cut to fit the Nikon D100's sensor. Have a look at your camera's sensor and determine the dimensions.

Step 3: The 'SWAB' :)

Figure 3: Take a piece of lint-free lens tissue and cut it so you get a piece that's about 40mm wide. It can be wider but only slightly. Fold it in half or you can cut a little more and fold it three times to get a thicker swab.

Step 4: How your swab should look like and how to hold it in place

Figure 4: Attach the lens tissue to your cut out card. I've used Scotch Magic Tape to secure the lens tissue to the card. If you wish to reuse the card (which i do), stick the tape 1/2 way around the side of the lens tissue so that you will be able to remove it easily later. Don't tape it all around. Ensure that the tissue is secure.

Step 5: Applying the cleaning fluid to your sensor swab

Figure 5: Take lens cleaning fluid or Chemist's methanol (i've used both and they work just as well) and apply very very sparingly onto the tip of your 'swab'. You might need to repeat this several times to get it right and not put too much fluid on it. Too much fluid will tear your lens tissue.

Step 6: Preparing your camera for the clean!

Figure 6: Place your camera on a non-abrasive surface and remove the bodycap or lens. For cameras without mirror lock-up to clean the camera, set your camera to 'BULB' mode and use a cable release. ENSURE THAT YOUR BATTERY POWER IS FULL OR USE AN EXTERNAL POWER SOURCE! Lift up your camera body and blow out any dust that could be on the inside. A few powerful blows on your sensor would be good too, to remove as much dust as possible before wiping it down.

Step 7: Cleaning your sensor

Figure 7:

*Before you attempt this step, you might want to 'TESTDRIVE' your new sensor swab on a filter. Hold the swab firmly and start in one smooth stroke from LEFT to RIGHT without stopping or moving back. How did you do? Once you're able to do it without leaving streaks behind, you're ready to move on! PS! This is also a good time to see if your swab is level!

Take your wet swab and start from the left. Hold the swab firmly and as you bring it across the sensor, apply light pressure as you sweep across.

Step 8: Final step!

Figure 8: If you have done it right, there will be no streaking. DO NOT USE YOUR SWAB AGAIN - REPLACE THE LENS TISSUE before attempting to pass the swab across your sensor again. If you don't replace the tissue, you might get more dust on your sensor or scratch it if there's anything abrasive on the sensor or the swab.

You now have a clean sensor! Cheers!

Photographs & Tutorial by Nathaniel Tan - ParkertR


New Member
Apr 5, 2005
Outstanding tutorial Nat....

where can i get some of that fluid?


Senior Member
Jan 27, 2002
Good job, Nat!! Your tutorial gave me confidence to do my own cleaning!

Sticky this!! :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:


Senior Member
Oct 27, 2004
I have an easier way. I just use my 1200W household vacuum to suck all the dust out and I am not joking. This method works with my 20D. But don't blame me if your camera is damaged using this method ;p


New Member
Feb 25, 2003
Punggol 21
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joeyao said:
I have an easier way. I just use my 1200W household vacuum to suck all the dust out and I am not joking. This method works with my 20D. But don't blame me if your camera is damaged using this method ;p
I did the same yesterday. :bsmilie:

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