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How to Clean your DSLR's Camera Sensor - Camera Spring Cleaning

Updated on August 30, 2011

Clean Your Camera's Sensor Regularly

If you notice spots on your photos it my be time to clean your camera's sensor.

Is your Camera's Sensor Overdue for a Cleaning

Must people will clean the front of their lens frequently to remove dust from the lens. However, many of them completely overlook Cleaning the Sensor. New Digital SLR owners may go years without cleaning their camera's sensor.

Unless you are changing your lenses in a clean room you may be getting dust into your camera each time you change the lens. Even if you never change your lens the dust bunnies will still find there ways into your camera's sensor and onto your photos.

Take your Camera to the Doctor

If you have never cleaned your camera's sensor you probably should bring it into a trusted camera shop and pay for them to clean it. You can expect to pay between $50 - $100 to have your camera's sensor professionally cleaned. Obviously you can clean the camera sensor much cheaper yourself, but if you have not been cleaning your sensor regularly, you will have your work cut out for you. So bring it in for a full cleaning and let them clean up the mess. Many camera shops will clean the camera in front, so watch them to pick up on the techniques that they use. Also ask them questions, must will be happy to give you tips on keeping your camera in good shape.

Clean your Camera Sensor Yourself

Now that your sensor is all cleaned up you will want to keep it that way. By following the steps below you can keep your cameras sensor clean and your pictures free of specs of dust.

Here is what you will need to clean the Camera Sensor on your DSLR.

Air Blaster

The First thing you should use when cleaning your camera sensor is an Air Blaster. Follow the instructions in your camera's manual to lock the mirror up and expose the camera sensor.

When using the Air blaster you are not just cleaning off the censor, you are blowing the dust out of the entire area around the sensor. Hold the camera upside down, so the dust will fall out of the camera and not back onto the sensor.


Use a steady hand and take care not to poke the sensor or the camera's shutter curtain. Do not use canned or compressed air as they can cause damage to your camera. Never try to clear debris from your camera's sensor by blowing on it. The moisture in your breath can damage the sensor and you can ruin your camera if you accidentally spit on the sensor.

Camera Sensor Cleaning is not for everyone. If you are not comfortable cleaning your camera's sensor yourself seek out an experienced professional to clean it for you.

Sensor Cleaning Brushes

After blowing all of the dust you can out of the camera you will want to use a Sensor Cleaning Brush to remove any remaining debris from the Sensor.

Lightly brush any of the dust off, cleaning your brush off after each wipe to remove any dust it picked up.

Only use a clean Sensor Cleaning Brush on your camera's sensor or you may be brushing dust onto your sensor.

Some of the better Sensor Cleaning Brushes have lights on them that can help you better see the dust that you are trying to wipe away.

Sensor Cleaning Solutions

If there is anything on the sensor that you can not remove with the Sensor Cleaning Brush you will want to move to a wet cleaning solution to remove the hard to remove dust. These solutions are typically alcohol based so that they will evaporate quickly and not leave moisture inside your came. Only move to this step if you have stubborn dust that is fussed to the sensor.

Apply the Sensor Cleaning Solution to a Sensor Cleaning Wipe and wipe it across the entire sensor in a single even swipe from one side to the other. Make sure to read the instructions on the solution and the wipes before you use them.

Prepared Sensor Cleaning Swabs

You can purchase Prepared Sensor Cleaning Swabs that already have the solution applied to them.

These are much more convenient and ensure that you have the proper amount of solution on the swab, but also more expensive then buying the solution separate from the swabs.

Sensor Cleaning Loupe

If you plan on cleaning your own sensor you should invest in a Camera Sensor Loupe.

A Camera Sensor Loupe is a magnifying glass that is specially designed to fit over a camera's sensor. There are lights inside the loupe that shine on the sensor so that you can spot any dust or debris that is on your sensor.

Other Sensor Cleaning Systems

There are other methods available for cleaning your camera sensor, like vacuum devices for pulling dust out from your sensor. I would be skeptical when looking at methods like the vacuum systems. The methods described above are widely used in the photography industry and will clean your camera's sensor with minimal risk to your camera. 

Video on How to Clean Your Camera's Sensor


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    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 6 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Yowza. This sounds complicated. I will probably leave the cleaning to the experts. Some things are just worth the money.