Steps to clean the sensor on your SLR

I read many web sites on this topic before I started cleaning my camera. This is one of the best. I found some things did not work for me as described and so I am writing down my procedure to help you and so I can refer back the next time I do it.


Tools and materials



  1. Get a test photo before cleaning. Make a white monitor screen in Photoshop. Set camera to Aperture priority, f22 or higher, zoom in, any manual focus, lowest ISO, hold camera 1 inch from screen, move camera while taking photo, import into Lightroom, make a preset for: Highest contrast, highest clarity, near highest whites, lowest blacks, adjust exposure to get middle gray. Large dust spots should be really obvious when viewing at full screen and you will see more when you scan the image at 1:1. Apply Photo/Flip Vertical. This will make image on screen oriented the same as looking at sensor in step 2.
  2. Set camera for cleaning mode, place on back with top of camera away from you, remove lens and set aside.
  3. Look for dust with loupe. Place your eye close to the lens and move loupe around.
  4. Blow off dust with blower. Do not put tip of blower inside camera. You will probably find that blower does not remove much dust.
  5. Look again with Loupe.
  6. Blow off brush several times. Wipe brush across sensor. Blow the brush again. Go all around edge and use the brush to push dust towards the sides and corners. Brush tip will go over edge of sensor and into a small space at edge of sensor.
  7. Take another photo. The photo will reveal much more dust then you can see with the Loupe. If there are no dust particles or only very small ones you are done. It is almost impossible to make it perfectly clean, so it is best to give up when you are close. If you are not satisfied, repeat 6 but aim brush this time only where you see dust in the image.
  8. If brushing does not remove one or more dust spots or if there are smudges, you will need to use the wet method. Cut the spatula to be the width of your sensor. See here for reference, but I do not do it on a table. Wrap a wipe over the end and fold each side in so it is tight and no wider than the spatula. Use tape to make it tight. Add 3 drops of cleaning fluid to the tip. Wipe all the way across the sensor. Repeat in the other direction. You can press pretty hard. Go back to step 5. Best to make brushing the last step.