Sensor Cleaning Technique


Today’s Question: I would appreciate any advice you could offer for actually cleaning the sensor regarding wipe technique and the loupe you recently recommended.

Tim’s Quick Answer: The approach I use is to use sensor swabs with a cleaning solution to swab the sensor. I then use a sensor loupe to confirm the sensor is clean, repeating the cleaning as needed until the sensor looks completely clean.

More Detail: In many cases you may discover that you need to clean the sensor on your camera because you notice dust spots in your photos. However, it is also a good idea to periodically check the sensor using a loupe with illumination, such as the Carson SensorMag loupe that I use (

When cleaning is necessary, I recommend using swabs with a special cleaning solution. I use the Visible Dust sensor cleaning kit (, though you need to be sure to order the correct swab size based on the size of your image sensor. For example, full frame cameras require a larger swab than a camera with a cropped sensor.

You’ll want to follow the instructions for the sensor swabs carefully. That includes not using too much solution on the swab, only using each side of the swab once, and only swiping the swab in one direction on the image sensor.

In most cases I’m able to get the sensor clean with a single swab. However, at times you may find that not all blemishes were removed with a single cleaning. In that case, resist the urge to re-use the swab, as you will very likely add debris back to the sensor. Instead, use a clean swab and begin the cleaning procedure again.

Continue this process until the sensor looks perfectly clean when using a sensor loupe to get a direct look at the filter on the front of the actual image sensor in your camera.