A Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Your Camera Sensor

The idea of cleaning your camera’s sensor fills many photographers with dread. It may seem difficult or complicated but it is actually much more straightforward than you may think. In this article, I will give you a simple guide on how to check for sensor dust and how to effectively clean your camera’s sensor.

Today I carried out one of the most daunting yet important tasks when it comes to photography: I cleaned my camera’s sensor myself. Whilst I had previously taken it to a camera store to have it cleaned, thought it was important to be able to do this myself. After researching numerous sources on the correct way to do this, I decided to write one comprehensive guide on how to do it properly, effectively, and (most importantly) safely!

Apologies for the disclaimer but this is just a guide to best practices. You should take extreme care in carrying out this task as it is very easy to damage your sensor rendering your camera in need of vital and expensive repairs.

Table of Contents

What Is Sensor Dust and What Does It Look Like?

Every time you change a lens on your camera, you are exposing the inside to potential dust and dirt contaminants.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Your Camera Sensor

You should try to protect the inside of your camera as much as possible when changing lenses—it goes without saying that you should not change a lens in an environment that will lead to unnecessary dirt entering your camera, such as a sandy beach or on a windy day—but obviously it is not always possible to do this. Inevitably, dirt and dust will enter the camera and ultimately show up in your images.

Sensor dust will show up in your images as blurry spots which will look something like the spots circled below:

There are a few important things to note:

How to Test to See Sensor Dust

Before You Attempt to Clean Your Sensor

I would suggest that you first try to use your camera’s auto-clean mode if it has one to see if this makes a difference in removing dust or dirt. Some cameras do this automatically when turned on or off but it is worth trying first.

Important: Make sure that your camera’s battery is fully charged as it may turn off mid-clean and damage the sensor if it runs out of power.

Things You Will Need

How to Dry Clean Your Sensor

How to Wet Clean Your Sensor

If you see streaks on the sensor then this means that you have used too much solution. Wait a few minutes and then repeat the process with less solution. Two drops are usually enough.

You will now have a clean sensor. When done properly with the correct equipment it is quite a simple process to clean the camera’s sensor. Although a little daunting the first time you do this, you will be saving yourself the unnecessary expense and inconvenience of being without your camera by using a professional cleaning service.

I hope this tutorial helps to explain how to clean your sensor in a straightforward way.

About the author: Antony Zacharias is a Florida-based Commercial and Fine Art photographer with roots in London. To see more of his work, head over to his website or give him a follow on Facebook, 500px, and Instagram.