Sensor Gel Stick Maintenance

The best part about the Sensor Gel Stick, is that it can be re-used over and over again and with normal use can last for a long time. But what happens if the gel tip gets less sticky overtime or potentially even completely lose the stickiness property? Some of our customers apparently use the product heavily (even some gear rentals companies use the Sensor Gel Stick) and one of our customers reached out to us asking what to do in such situations. I forwarded the email to our German manufacturer and the response I received was quite simple – just wash it! Apparently, you can safely wash the Sensor Gel Stick with just tap water, let it air dry and it will be as good as new again. I had a hard time believing this, so I decided to test it out on my stick and then use it on my camera to make sure that it actually works. To my surprise, it worked perfectly fine and better yet, it became even more effective than before!

Sensor Gel Stick

Here is the process for properly washing the Sensor Gel Stick:

  1. Wash your hands with soap first to make sure that there is no oil / grease on your fingers
  2. Wash the Sensor Gel Stick under clean, running tap water using your fingers – do not use any cleaning chemicals or solutions
  3. Shake the water off, then air dry the gel part by leaving the product in a dry, dust-free environment
  4. Once the gel is completely dry, use Sticky Paper to clean up the gel before first use

So if you end up dropping the Sensor Gel Stick on the ground or drop it on unclean surface, you do not have to waste your sticky paper – just give it a wash and you will be good to go!

If you end up with oil / grease on the gel and it won’t wash off, some liquid dish detergents can be safely used to remove oil / grease as well (only do this as a last resort though).

Moose Peterson followed the above procedure and he seems to be very happy with the outcome.

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Sergey Nikitin
    July 25, 2014 at 2:16 am

    Is there any solution to clear translucent mirror of sony SLT camera?

    • July 25, 2014 at 2:22 am

      Sergey, do not use the Sensor Gel Stick for that – it can potentially affect the mirror coating. The best thing to do is to use a dry, lint-free cloth or a brush to clean the dust off. I would not use any chemicals on it.

  2. Profile photo of duc.nguyen306
    3
    ) duc.nguyen306
    July 25, 2014 at 2:27 am

    It sounds like the Gel Stick can last forever.

    • July 25, 2014 at 2:34 am

      Duc, I guess you could say that. If service centers and gear rental companies use it for months before replacement, you know it could last a very long time. Originally, the manufacturer told me that expected life is no more than 1-2 years. But now that we know this simple fix, that was surely a heavy understatement…

  3. 5
    ) Manuel Lopez
    July 25, 2014 at 4:28 am

    A little of topic here but, is the sensor stick sake to use on the D810 since ot doesn’t have a low pass filter?

    • 6
      ) Manuel Lopez
      July 25, 2014 at 4:29 am

      *safe

      • 25
        ) Cornell
        July 25, 2014 at 8:58 am

        Is the sensor stick safe to use on the Nex 6 and Nex 7?

        • July 25, 2014 at 9:35 am

          Cornell, only the Sony-specific version is safe to use on the NEX-6 / 7. The Sony version will be here in about a week (still awaiting shipping info from the manufacturer).

    • July 25, 2014 at 4:45 am

      Manuel, of course it is. Although there is no OLPF filter on the D810, it does not mean that there is no filter at all – there is still a filter stack that is comprised of the UV filter in front of the sensor :)

      • 10
        ) Manuel Lopez
        July 25, 2014 at 4:46 am

        Thank you for your quick response.

  4. 7
    ) Chris K.
    July 25, 2014 at 4:38 am

    Nasim thanks I saw Moose Peterson article on that and I did wash it under tap water but after I just shook it and put it back in the plastic case, is that ok?

    • July 25, 2014 at 4:45 am

      Chris, no, please let it air dry first – the plastic case will not let it dry.

      • 13
        ) Chris K.
        July 25, 2014 at 4:49 am

        Ok it’s been in the plastic case for 2 day’s now, do I just take it out or was it again? thank you.

        • July 25, 2014 at 5:12 am

          I don’t think you need to wash it – just make sure that it is dry and it should be good to go.

          • 16
            ) Chris K.
            July 25, 2014 at 5:13 am

            Thank you;)

  5. 11
    ) Greg Heller
    July 25, 2014 at 4:46 am

    Thanks for the heads up Nasim

  6. 15
    ) mark
    July 25, 2014 at 5:13 am

    This material has been around for a while but not used in this manner. It is not a miracle but you have to beware that there are different manufacturers and materials. It will not last forever and will deteriorate. I had one and it left smears and smudges. I would not jump to this process.

    • July 25, 2014 at 5:23 am

      Mark, did you use our product, or some other product? Which one left smears and smudges?

  7. 18
    ) Louie
    July 25, 2014 at 5:31 am

    Will this work on my canon dslr’s 7D and 5DM3?

  8. 20
    ) Earle
    July 25, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Hi Nasim:

    Wonderful news but I’d like to add one caveat — all tap water isn’t created equal and contain a variety of minerals and additives. Perhaps a better option is to use distilled water. (Which is recommended in everything from auto radiators to sleep apnea machines).

    Now I could be just overly concerned but when I lived just a couple counties north of where I do now, the tap water was notably harder than it is where I am now. Also, some communities add a small amount of fluoride to the water, etc.

    • July 25, 2014 at 6:08 am

      Earle, those are good thoughts for sure. If one is concerned, I guess distilled water would be safer to use. Thanks for sharing!

    • Profile photo of Mike Banks
      22
      ) Mike Banks
      July 25, 2014 at 7:23 am

      Earlel and Nasim,

      I read this article last night and since I have been using, (perhaps over using), the gel stick before every paid assignment I took a look at it and decided to give washing it a try. Then I thought about the water and decided to use some of the distilled water my wife adds to her piano since I won’t even drink tap water here in Virginia.

      I would like to add a bit of information regarding drying. When I finished washing the head in distilled water I thought just standing the gel stick up in the drain board at the sink would not be a good idea as the air in Virginia is full of dust and pollen that gets everywhere. I stood the gel stick up in a small glass and covered it with a one gallon food storage bag being careful not to allow the bag to touch the gel stick. This morning upon inspection with my sensor loupe the head was perfect.

      Thanks for letting us know about this procedure.

      • 24
        ) Rafael
        July 25, 2014 at 7:44 am

        Or you can dry it inside a frost-free refrigerator. It sucks up the humidity and I believe that it could be used for the sensor stick as well. I do that when I want to quick dry small stuff… :)

        • Profile photo of Mike Banks
          26
          ) Mike Banks
          July 25, 2014 at 9:13 am

          Rafael,

          Although you are correct, a frost free refrigerator will dry the gel stick, I wonder, since there must be moisture in the gel part itself, if this method won’t dry out the gel stick.

        • July 25, 2014 at 9:34 am

          Rafael, that one I am not sure about :) Make sure to warm it up in room temperature before using though – you don’t want to put icy gel on your sensor filter.

      • July 25, 2014 at 9:33 am

        Mike, that’s an excellent suggestion, thank you!

  9. 23
    ) Rafael
    July 25, 2014 at 7:38 am

    Wow, that is awesome.

    I’m willing to buy the sensor gel stick, but have not done so yet because I still have a pair of Sensor Swabs (yup, the one with methanol in it) still new. So, if I’d buy the stick by now I’d have to wait until I use all the swabs as I don’t want to waste them; I barely use them to clean my sensor (maybe twice a year) because I don’t change lenses too often in “unfriendly” environments.

    So what’s the best estimate on how long the sensor gel lasts (expiry date) if I keep in its sealed packaging? 2 years? 5 years? So I could have it already on hand after my last sensor swab goes away…

    Thanks!

    • July 25, 2014 at 9:29 am

      Rafael, keep those Sensor Swabs for wet cleaning – you will need them! The product works very well in combination with wet cleaning, because it picks up any residue that’s left after wet cleaning and it does a good job with picking up remaining lint/dust after you use a swab. Wet cleaning is still a good method to clean when sensors get really nasty (especially when oil ends up on the sensor).

      The product won’t expire / deteriorate in a box…

  10. 32
    ) Rafael
    July 25, 2014 at 11:05 am

    Thank you, Nasim! :)

  11. 33
    ) Bob Dennis
    July 25, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    This is slightly off topic. I have a stick and it is great on a D800 but I also have an older NEX5 that I sometimes use when travelling light. You market a different (less sticky) stick for newer Sony cameras but I do not know whether that is needed just for the later models or also earlier ones. Do I need the special one for the NEX5?

    Thanks, great site, great product, fantastic that you respond to comments

  12. Profile photo of Narendra
    34
    ) Narendra
    July 27, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Dear Nasim:

    I bought Gel Stick and Sticky papers earlier this year; after I saw oil spots on my D7000. I had already sent my D7000 to Nikon and they did do cleanup and it seems OK now. But; I have not used Gel Stick yet; as a matter of fact to protect from drying it out; I have kept it in original sealed mailed package that you sent to me.

    But, I have few Questions:

    Q-01. Should I try to clean D7000 sensor twice a year with Gel Stick even if I do not notice any spot? Is it recommended to clean twice a year?

    Q-02. I think you mentioned that it is Ok to store for a long time; but, should it be kept/placed in protected mailed PKG (including box) until I am ready to use; since I have not opened it yet?

    Q-03. Last stupid question; when should D7000 be cleaned with Gel Stick? Schedule I clean every six month regardless use or after heavy use and what is considered heavy use in number of shots/pictures that are taken? (I am not professional Photographer, but as a hobby; I take several pictures).

    Thank You in advance to for your help.

    Sincerely yours,
    Narendra M.

    • 35
      ) Geno
      July 28, 2014 at 3:33 pm

      Hi Narenda,

      For the most part, dust is invariably going to settle on your sensor and during recent review of the web related to this topic I found this (albeit I fail to recall the original reference article and unfortunately cannot give credit to the author – but can attest to the accuracy because I used this as a guideline to establish how dirty my sensor was and then assess it again post cleaning utilizing the Gel Stick):

      >>>want to detail how to check and see if your sensor has dust issues. First, set your camera to aperture priority at the lowest ISO setting possible. Then set the aperture on the lens to the lowest setting, i.e. f/22. Take a photo of a white piece of paper filling the entire frame with the paper. Note that the camera doesn’t have to focus here since we are imaging the sensor, not the paper. I usually turn the autofocus off. You will end up with a gray image since the camera’s exposure meter will make the white paper gray. Now, take that image and download it to a computer, open it in Photoshop and select Image > Auto Tone from the top file menu. Selecting Auto Tone in Photoshop will automatically adjust the levels so you can more accurately see what is on your sensor. This is the technique I use and have been using for ten years or more to see what is on the sensor. The Auto Tone will show you way more dust spots than you can see on just that gray image. I will say that the demonstration shown in the above video and on the F-Stoppers website is sub-optimal for checking your sensor and how much dust is on your sensor. You really need to use the Auto Tone feature in Photoshop to see everything on your sensor when cleaning it<<<

      The Gel Stick worked perfectly for me. I have kept the stick stored in its original shipping container that I ordered from this site and have used it time and again with stellar results repeatedly. As to your establishing a routine or cleaning schedule, I guess it really depends on your use of your camera, frenquency of lens changes, and environment in which you shoot having an impact with resulting particulates on the sensor. The above cited article has helped me assess my camera's need for cleaning and may be of benefit to you (singly or in addition to a defined schedule / process).

      Best Regards and Thanks to all the posters (a rare and truly gifted site in such a sea of noise)

  13. 36
    ) winn
    July 30, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    I have both Sony camera and Nikon camera. If I buy only Gel stick for SONY will do the job? I don’t want to buy 2 sticks.

  14. 37
    ) ed
    August 1, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    Just wanted to thank you for the stick. It did a bang up job on my d800.

  15. Profile photo of Edgar L Guaymare R
    38
    ) Edgar L Guaymare R
    August 4, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    Hi,

    I m planning to buy the sensor gel stick. I would send it to a friend who lives in florida. I do not live in the states, but I would like to know when will it be available?…thanks

  16. 39
    ) Gary Wilson
    September 4, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    Is Eyelead the manufacturer of Sensor Gel Stick ? Is it based in Germany? They have no facilities in China? Are you the only distributor in the US?

    Thank you
    Gary

    • September 4, 2014 at 9:37 pm

      Gary, yes, Eyelead is the manufacturer of the Sensor Gel Stick and it is made in Germany. There is a facility in China, but it only manufactures the aluminum and external case. All other parts come from Germany.

      And yes, we are the only distributor of the product in the USA.

  17. 41
    ) Steve Hadeen
    October 6, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    Amazon has this product from Eyelead on their site. Are you the distributor through Amazon or are you no longer the only distributor? What is interesting is that 10 sticky papers come with this product on Amazon. My understanding is that it is supposed to come with 12 sticky papers….

    • October 6, 2014 at 11:41 pm

      Steve, no, I do not resell through Amazon. The only legitimate seller on Amazon is Eyelead Germany – you can find the products at Amazon.de. Please do NOT buy from any other reseller, since those are all fake units! I have had a number of people complain, with one person having their AA filter replaced, since the fake version ripped the AA filter right out of a D4 camera!

      Sadly, that’s what happens when a product becomes popular – bad guys want to monetize on it by making fakes…

      • 51
        ) Steve Hadeen
        October 11, 2014 at 12:50 am

        Thanks for your response, Nasim. I do know that fakes can abound. This particular Amazon posting says it is Eyelead that is selling it. However, I will stick to buying from what I know will be a reputable site and business when the time comes.

  18. Profile photo of Yury Prilutsky
    43
    ) Yury Prilutsky
    October 7, 2014 at 12:47 am

    Sorry for the long post below.
    I posted this originally on the product review page (where I think it belongs, as it may help others researching the product):
    ———
    : I bought the orange Sony version to use on my Sony A7s sensor as it accumulated a few large dust spots. After the first use the original spots were gone, but the was a lot of dirt left on the sensor that looked like residue left from the stick. I did repeat the procedure a few times to no effect. I must note a few things here: I did use the sticky paper before the first use and between subsequent uses. During the first run the gel felt more sticky then on subsequent runs. I even washed the stick once as it was suggested that it may restore the stickiness. If it did, it was barely noticeable (I would not expect much of a change for a new gel stick). Anyway, the gel stick would not pick the dirt from the sensor. I guess my next step wold be to have it wet cleaned in a shop, I am not sure I am up to doing it myself. Are there any other options to try?
    ——-

    The review was TAKEN DOWN (!) and I received an email reply asking me to post it in this thread instead(which I am doing):
    —–
    In regards to your sensor, there should be no residue left whatsoever, since this particular product does not leave any (and we have tested it extensively). What you are seeing is probably oil or some other dirt that got moved around (which explains why the product was sticky at first, then got less sticky). Please keep in mind that while the product is great for removing dust and fresh oil, if you have any other foreign material and old oil spots from the shutter mechanism, those might not get picked up. If you see anything like that on the sensor, I would not use the stick all over the sensor and only concentrate on the affected area, then clean the gel head in-between. In your situation, the best thing to do at this point is probably to get it wet cleaned, then use the sensor gel stick afterwards to clean up the remaining stuff from the wet cleaning. Before you do that though, please make sure to wash and air dry the sensor gel stick. Wet cleaning is very easy and you can use a number of different products to do that. My personal recommendation would be to get Visible Dust’s V Swabs with their sensor cleaning liquid. Hope this helps! P.S. We have sold over 400 units of the orange Sony version and we have not seen a single complaint. Both LensRentals and BorrowLenses use our products (regular and Sony version) to clean hundreds of cameras every day.
    ——-

    : Well, it may have been a user error, it may have been a faulty gel. In my case the sensor looked mostly clean with the exception of two visible dust specs that were stuck. Now, what’s left on the sensor looks more like like lint or gel residue with a few line patterns in some places (my guess is it’s from the edges of the gel rectangle). Unfortunately I do not have any means to photograph the sensor with the appropriate lighting.
    I will see if BorrowLenses shop can fix it for me, luckily I live close to one.

    Yury
    P.S. Good job on keeping your product review page clean!

    • October 7, 2014 at 1:01 am

      Yury, I only took down the comment from the product page, because it was a question, rather than a review. I thought it would have been more meaningful to discuss the issue, rather than leaving an unanswered question.

      If you have no experience with the wet cleaning process or do not want to try it, I would be happy to clean your camera sensor for you. I won’t charge you for it, since I would like to see what happened and hopefully get your confidence in using the product in the future. If there is a fault in the product, I will replace it free of charge as well. While I have personally tested the orange version extensively on many Sony cameras (including the A7 and A7R), there is always a chance that either the product itself was defective, or something else happened.

      Please let me know how you would like to proceed. Again, my goal is to make sure that your frustration is fully taken care of and I promise to do everything I can to make you a happy customer.

      • Profile photo of Yury Prilutsky
        46
        ) Yury Prilutsky
        October 7, 2014 at 1:16 am

        Nassim, thanks for the offer to clean the sensor for me, but I’d rather not get into shipping the camera back and forth if it can be done locally (I am in SF Bay Area, CA and you are in Colorado, based on the G+ profile, correct?). I’ll check with BorrowLenses in the next few days and see how it goes from there.

        • October 7, 2014 at 1:18 am

          Yury, yes, I am in Denver, Colorado. See what they will charge for cleaning – it might be cheaper to send the camera to me rather than paying for the service. I will get it cleaned fast and you can use something like USPS Priority Mail, so that it does not cost too much to send the camera…

      • Profile photo of Yury Prilutsky
        49
        ) Yury Prilutsky
        October 7, 2014 at 1:31 am

        Nassim, you mentioned that you tested the stick with Sony A7 and A7r. I have an A7S. Could there be a difference in the sensors surfaces that would explain my case?

        • October 7, 2014 at 1:33 am

          Yury, there is a probability, but a very small one. I don’t think Sony would use different coating on the A7S…that would be odd. That’s why I am wondering what happened and want to take a closer look…

    • October 7, 2014 at 1:02 am

      Кстати, со мной можно говорить по-русски, если так легче…

      • Profile photo of Yury Prilutsky
        47
        ) Yury Prilutsky
        October 7, 2014 at 1:17 am

        Ну если прижмет…;)

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