How to Wet Clean Your DSLR Sensor in Less Than 5 Minutes

After I posted my last in-depth video on DSLR sensor cleaning, I decided to create a 5 minute version of DSLR sensor wet cleaning, so that our readers could see how simple the process actually is. I was getting the equipment prepped for Lola’s last photo shoot and while I was in the process of cleaning everything, I thought it might be a good idea to do a short version for the impatient ones out there. This wet cleaning process is easy, because I use ready-to-go tools (sensor swab + fluid) from VisibleDust. It is certainly not a cheap product, given the $3 cost of each swab, but it does a good job of keeping your DSLR sensor clean when compared to other solutions out there. Either way, the below process is much cheaper than sending your camera for $50 or more every time you need the sensor cleaned. As a photographer, you should learn how to do this yourself.

In the video, I mention that you should only use a swab once. You can also use the other side of the swab, but you might end up putting the dust back on the sensor if you don’t keep the swab properly angled. I find that it is best to use swabs once, but you might get better results. When inserting the swab, tilt it horizontally first, so that you do not touch the top and bottom parts of the chamber. Don’t forget to do the same when removing it. You might find some dust specs on the side of the sensor, where you picked up the swab. If those specs do not disturb you, just leave them there. If they do, then you have two choices – either to use corner swabs or a sensor brush to pick up those remaining dust specs. I personally do not worry about them unless the dust particles are huge.

I know that some people will try to reuse the swabs, but I highly recommend NOT to do it. Do not try to wash and dry the swabs either – this particular product is designed for one time use only. Trying to wash and reuse the product might introduce other nasty stuff besides dust on your sensor. You have been warned!

Let me know if you have any questions – below are the links to the three products in the video:

  1. Visible Dust Sensor Clean Solution
  2. Visible Dust Vswab 1.0x for full-frame cameras and Visible Dust Vswab 1.5x for cropped-sensor cameras
  3. Giottos Rocket Air Blower (Large)

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Avatar of Nasim Mansurov About Nasim Mansurov

is a professional photographer based out of Denver, Colorado. He is the author and founder of Photography Life, along with a number of other online resources. Read more about Nasim here.

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Victor

    Thank you. This is a simple but great instructions.

  2. Simple and nice, thanks for the video.

  3. 3
    ) John McMurdo

    Thanks Nasim for the great video. I have been very paranoid about cleaning my D700′s sensor but now feel much more confident. Have you also tried the Visible Dust “Arctic Butterfly” electrostatic sensor cleaning brush? I understand a lot of photographers are using this brush for simple dust cleaning and the Vswabs for tougher jobs. The brush is quite expensive by itself and even more so with the add-on “Sensor Loupe”.
    Would appreciate your opinion on what you think is really necessary for the job.
    Thanks!

  4. 4
    ) Dennis

    Thanks Nasim, great video!

  5. 5
    ) Roger Eamer (EAM9)

    Thanks for advice.
    I watched your three videos…and did clean the Leica M-9 that I just bought a month ago . When I used it the first time, there was already few dust spots and i did not know how to get rid of it…after watching your videos I did!
    Funny, I have been using a Nikon D-300 for two years and i change lenses very often…never a dust on the sensor!!!

  6. 6
    ) Ryan

    Nasim,

    Your website is an invaluable tool for photographers at all levels. I admire the example you set, and your willingness to share. Keep it up!

    Ryan

  7. I also found this quite useful. Like the other poster, I wondered why you did not go the brush route. I guess one obvious reason is cost. Is going brush first more cost effective than simply going to the wipes? Perhaps not.

  8. 8
    ) Lucas

    Very helpful video! Thanks a bunch.

  9. 9
    ) Subrato Mitra

    Thanks Nasim. It is great to have someone like you with a helping attitude. God bless you.

  10. 10
    ) Subrato Mitra

    Thanks Nasim. It is wonderful to have some one like you with helpful advice. God bless you.

  11. 11
    ) Ravi R

    Nasim,

    The new D7000 I bought had some oil spots. I saw this video and ordered the visible dust kit and cleaned it as you said in the video and now everything is clean and dandy.

    I tried the eclipse pre-moistened swabs(before i saw this video) on my D70s and wasn’t too happy with the results. For one, the swabs had dried out and I just got 3 in a pack and used them all to get it clean.

    With visible dust all i did was one swipe with one swab and the sensor was clean. But I did buy the 16 pack swabs and the liquid separately for future use, if needed.

    Thanks for the article and video !

  12. 12
    ) vasilis

    Hi there, i also own a D7000 and i just wanted to ask a question that might sound silly to you…well here is my question…does the dust on my sensor appears in videos also or is it just on photos? thanx in advance.
    vasilis
    Greece

  13. 13
    ) Bill Tucker

    Is this the best way to clean oil spots on my nikon d7000? The techichian where I bought my camera confirmeed they were oil spots and not dust. He said that he could clean it for $50.00 but that they most likely would return. He hinted around that I should learn to clean this sensor on the D7000 since it was going to reoccur. After talking to Nikon Service it is obvious that they were not going to admit the oil spots were a problem for the d7000 and eve n told me so in an email.

    thanks Bill

  14. 14
    ) Luc

    what size would you recommend for the rocket blower? they make the small, medium and large size.

  15. 15
    ) Mouhamad Tlebzu

    Hi Nasim,
    thanks for the tutorial,
    I got my D7000 sensor dirty, I managed to get rid of the majority of the dust , not all of it , any idea why some dust spots don’t want to be removed , ?
    another thing I noticed something different bigger than dust spot , please check the photo below I marked them with blue circles
    thanks in advance

    http://img22.imageshack.us/img22/7534/dsc0936v.jpg

    • 19
      ) Global

      Those look like oil spots — look up how D600 users are cleaning their oil spots (D600 leaks oil like crazy), which is different than cleaning dust. Dust is solid and not very sticky, oil is liquid and incredibly sticky.

  16. 16
    ) Fred Mueller

    Hi Nasim …

    What I do:

    - take a reference shot first to see if I actually have a problem (once you learn how to do it it only takes seconds)
    - if the sensor indeed looks dirty, I blow the sensor off first … lock mirror as you show, tip camera front facing down, carefully get blower tip into the mirror box about 1/2 way and blow a few times …
    - take a second reference shot to see if anything remains that will require a wet cleaning (very often not necessary)
    - if necessary wet clean as you demonstrate
    - make another test shot to see if I have in fact eliminated the “bunny population” – if you have, you are a certified member of the Elmer Fudd society, a true blue “wabbit” hunter …

    best

    Fred

    the point of blowing off the sensor first and making a test shot is that you don’t want to drag possibly damaging particles across the sensor, if that can be avoided, and in fact wet cleaning is the step of last resort and often a good “blow” or two will clean the sensor sufficiently

  17. 17
    ) Fred Mueller

    I should also add if after a good cleaning there are a few small lupine stragglers, I will make a test shot at f/11.0 to see if they are actually going to be visible at more normal f-stops – if they are not, I will ofter call it “good enough”.

    Also note that with most variable zoom lenses, the highest f-stop values are at the long end of the zoom; my 24-85 kit that came with my D600 closes down to f/29.0 at 85mm. At that small aperture you will almost always be able to find something. Sometimes if I am going off to a job (I shoot properties), I will make an f/29.0 test and f/11.0 test and just to have confidence in the state of my gear.

    Also, I luckily seem to have a D600 that behaves quite normally with respect to dust – in a way the whole issue has been good for me, because I have become a little more vigilant than I used to be about the cleaness of my camera sensors, and as you say, the cleaning routine is not at all difficult to learn how to do – in minutes.

    Fred

  18. 18
    ) Serge

    Hi Nasim

    Thanks a lot both for the website I’ve become a constant reader of, and for the current video on “How to wet clean DSLR sensor”. I have just bought D600. 200 test shots have been enough for the notorious oil/dust spots to start appearing. Damn! My question is: How safe is it to wet clean the D600 sensor (the low-pass filter, actually)? I wouldn’t hesitate cleaning it myself after watching your video tutorials. However, there’ve been quite a few warnings from some on-line “dslr experts” about the potential danger of that procedure. I want to believe / make sure it’s not as risky as some suggest. Please, advise. Thank you, Nasim!

  19. 20
    ) André

    Hi this is the second time i’ve tried to clean my sensor , this time i’ve bought the eyelead dust-sticking bar from you guys.
    First let me tell you I think blowing air around your lens mount is just retarded
    this is the second time i’ve attempted this being even more careful this time….I know a lot of people recommend this, but for me each times I ended up with particules of dust everywhere on my mirror etc , only this times I got dust particules that I can see trough my view finder and that I cant even remove anymore . those doesnt affect my shots but still bothers me a lot while looking trough the viewfinder….

    Second, I’ve past my dust sticking bar multiples times on my d7000 and theres is still spots that I cant remove at all I’m even wondering if those were there before I’ve blown dust with my rocket blower everywhere Inside my camera …

    This is very, very frustrating especially, when you are very gentle and do everything you’ve been told on websites etc…

    so how do I remove those dust particules that are not on my sensor, not on my mirror and not anywhere that I can see except trough my view finder ! … thanks Giotto rocket air

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