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How to Clean a Camera Sensor

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After finding the best digital camera, you need to know how to clean the lens of a digital camera and how to clean a digital camera sensor. The process of cleaning the sensor is pretty easy and quick. However, it can cause equipment damage if it is not done correctly. If you aren’t sure you can complete the cleaning process without damaging the camera, several camera stores offer professional cleaning services. And, if you are having problems with your camera’s batteries, find out how to clean corrosion off battery terminals in a digital camera.


  • To clean a digital camera sensor, you need a plain air blower or blower brush and brush.
  • Cleaning the image sensor includes cleaning the exterior of the camera and lens.
  • After removing the lens, blow lightly on the image sensor to remove dust.

Dust particles, dirt, and other debris can collect on the sensor, causing visible spots in photos. A dirty sensor leads to poor image quality. While some cameras have automatic sensor cleaning functions, manual sensor cleaning is sometimes required to remove stubborn particles. This involves using cleaning swabs, lens tissue, or wet cleaning methods to gently dislodge loose particles without scratching the sensor itself.

Take care to blow away any remaining dust. Sensor cleaning requires great care as the sensor is delicate, but cleaning it can avoid the need for expensive repairs or replacement. Always refer to the manufacturer’s guide for proper materials and methods before attempting to clean a camera sensor manually.

Cleaning a Digital Camera Sensor

When you want to check whether your digital camera sensor needs to be cleaned, you will want to first adjust the camera’s settings. Set your field depth to the highest setting and your ISO to the lowest. For a Sony camera, you will want to set it to Aperture Priority Mode with an aperture value of 11. Then, you will want to take a picture of a bright area, such as a white wall, white paper, a white computer screen, or the sky. Finally, look at the picture and see if there are spots. Alternatively, for a camera that you know inside and out, which makes it easy to clean, check out our guide to making a homemade digital camera.

Insider Tip

Use a plain blower to avoid damage that a brush blower can cause to the camera.

What You Need to Clean the Sensor

You will need a couple of items to cleaning tools for removing bits of dust from your digital camera sensor, including a plain blower or brush blower and a brush. Several retailers offer sensor cleaning kits with sensor cleaning swabs. Some brands recommend using a plain blower and brush for this process. You will need to be careful not to touch the mirror at all during this process. Brands also warn that the use of cleaning liquid or dry cloth can cause the coating on the sensor to peel off, thus damaging the camera.

It’s ideal to clean the sensor regularly, doing a couple of gentle passes with the blower to remove any loose dust. For stubborn dust, carefully use a swab dampened with cleaning fluid in gentle circles. Take care not to scratch the sensor surface since it’s fragile. With regular careful cleaning on a consistent basis, you can keep your camera sensor free of troublesome dust spots that can mar your photos.

Steps for Digital Camera Sensor Cleaning

STEP 1 Use the Automatic Cleaning Setting

Try to use an automatic cleaning setting or self-cleaning mode if applicable. Some cameras offer an option to have the image sensor vibrate to dislodge dust or dirt. If this step works, you could mitigate any chance of damaging the camera. To find this setting, check your owner’s manual.

STEP 2 Clean the Camera Exterior

Clean the exterior of the camera. Any dust or dirt that is found on the outside of the camera could slip into the chamber with the sensor once the lens is removed. You should use the brush to gently sweep dust and debris off the exterior of the camera. If you are worried about some of the more delicate parts, use a smaller brush for these places. You should use the blower to clean hard-to-reach places.

STEP 3 Ensure the Lens is Clean

Clean the lens before removing it. To do so, remove the front lens cap and blow the dust off of the lens. Don’t use the brush on the lens, as it may cause scratches. Replace the lens cap to avoid any dust getting on the lens after cleaning.


Do not use commercial cleaners or dry cloth when cleaning your image sensor because they can cause damage.

STEP 4 Detach Lens from Base

Detach the lens from the camera base. Many cameras have a button to release the lens, but the button type depends on whether you have a mirrorless or lens-style camera. However, the button is usually near where the lens and base meet.

STEP 5 Blow Out Any Dust

Tilt the camera slightly downward and blow dust and debris off the lens of the image sensor. Do not touch its surface or blow on it too hard, as this can cause damage.

STEP 6 Reattach the lens

After replacing the lens, repeat the photo-capturing process of a white wall, white paper, white computer screen, or the sky. You will want to check for dust spots and smears in the follow-up image.

STEP 7 Repeat if Necessary

If you still see spots after cleaning the camera, you may need to send it to a shop to be cleaned by an employee.

STAT: The sensor can be cleaned at any time using the Clean now option, or cleaning can be performed automatically when the camera is turned on or off. (source)


What is sensor dust and what does it look like?

Sensor dust consists of dust that has managed to get inside your camera and settle on your image sensor. In images, sensor dust looks like spots and smears on the image.

Why is sensor dust a problem?

Sensor dust causes blurry spots to appear in your pictures, especially if there is a lot. Because of this, it can decrease image quality.

Are self-cleaning sensors sufficient?

Some cameras offer self-cleaning sensor features, including a setting that vibrates the camera to dislodge dust. However, you may not have total dust removal using these settings.

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