Cleaning your own sensor


In the heat of the moment, I am not always the most disciplined with the way I change my lenses. I sometimes get a lot of dust on my sensor and it can be tedious editing it out of my images. Over the years I’ve always taken it to a local camera store and they usually do an ok job, the last few times they have done a really bad job. I finally got fed up with paying them to do a bad job.

Does anyone clean their own sensor and have advice on how to go about it? I am a little scared of damaging my sensor but after reading articles like this one I think I could pull it off. Looking for a bit of reassurance I suppose :slight_smile:

Brent, I have been cleaning my sensors for years now, and would not even think of allowing anybody else to touch my sensors. It is really easy and risk-free if you use the right product and follow the instructions EXACTLY as stated. I use products from Visible Dust. Others may also be good, but these have always worked very well for me, and they have tons of easy to follow tutorials on their website. It is like learning to wear contact lenses, which I did when I was over 50 - once you lose the fear of touching your eyes - or touching your sensor - it is no big deal and you wonder why didn’t you start much sooner.
One caveat: I only use Sony mirrorless cameras. If you use DSLR’s there is the extra complication of making sure that the mirror does not flip on you, and the sensor is a bit deeper, but I’m sure that all of this is easy to deal with.

We use Visible Dust too, but periodically and when our “usual” method simply won’t do the job.

Our usual method?

Rightly or wrongly, we remove the lens, put the shutter on B, then point the lens mount down and press the shutter release to raise and hold the mirror. Then we use a bulb to gently “blow out” dust particles. No, it’s not perfect. But it’s a very useful field expedient in dusty settings. I try to take a break once a day to point the camera at a blank sky or wall and look through the viewfinder to check for spots. You’ll see most if any are there, or at least the most worrisome for editing.

Brent, I’ve been cleaning my own sensors for a decade. I use a blower bulb to blow away the larger, non-sticking dust and then clean with sensor swabs and the proper cleaning solution. The size of your sensor determine which the swab size and the coating type determines the type of cleaning solution. On occasion, I’ve had to clean twice, but the directions that come with the swabs are clear and the result is a clean sensor.

Thanks, all. It makes me feel better to hear that it’s not a big deal if I take the time to do it right. I’ll give it a try before my next trip and let you know how it goes.

Visible Dust products are awesome. With cleaning, work slowly and make sure that your camera batteries are fully charged. …Jim

Brent, like the others, I have been cleaning my sensors for years. I have never had anyone else clean them, and yes, at first it is quite un-nerving.
Look online to make sure you get the correct product for your particular camera. Some liquid products are not recommended for some sensors. There have been many times when I have had to use a liquid in order to remove a stubborn spot, but many people swear they only need to use a dry brush.
When you start cleaning, you need to make sure your mirror doesn’t move. Some people recommend plugging your camera into the wall, but I just put a newly charged battery into mine, like Jim says above.
Do this in a clean, quiet room, where there isn’t a lot of air movement and dust floating around.

Don’t pay anyone else to do a job you can do better yourself. As mentioned, Visible Dust products and processes are great. I also use Arctic Butterfly. I find the newer cameras have better sensor cleaning vibration systems than those from a few years ago.

I do mine and others as well. IMO, you’d have to do something pretty boneheaded to damage your sensor. One tip I would give you is if you use fluid to not put many drops in place. It can get behind the sensor and create micro bubbles in all of your pictures. It will dry with time, but you’re camera will be benched until it does.

Also, some of the newer cameras have the fancier stability, which makes the sensor have more movement. You’ll want to make sure you do not apply much pressure at all and let the cleaning tool to the work.

Update: I finally did it myself. It took maybe 15 minutes and worked way better than my shop did it. I feel dumb not starting years ago!


Hi Brent-
Just saw this discussion. I too have been cleaning my own lens for about a year and am happy with the results. Of course I still fail to clean before a shoot on occasion but that’s another discussion. Glad you took the plunge.