How to Clean a DSLR Sensor

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Updated December 5, 2022

If you are new to the world of digital photography, you may wonder how to clean a DSLR sensor. Many of the best digital cameras, after all, are DSLR models, and these cameras require some light maintenance and cleaning. So why clean the best DSLR cameras, why single out the sensor, and how to do it? Keep reading to find out.


  • Cleaning a DSLR camera sensor is important to ensure your photos look their best.
  • Test the sensor first to see if it needs to be cleaned by setting the aperture low and taking a photo on a white background or white wall to look for dust spots.
  • Keep a clean sensor with a dedicated air blower, not compressed air, or use a sensor cleaning kit with wet sensor swabs.

Why Clean a DSLR Sensor?

If you are learning how to clean a DSLR camera, cleaning the sensor comes with the territory. As a matter of fact, cleaning is often the first step when wondering how to repair a DSLR camera. Keeping your sensor clean ensures high-grade and accurate images if you are wondering why your digital camera pictures are coming out pink.

Insider Tip

Some DSLR cameras have automatic cleaning modes that do all of the heavy lifting for you.

Experiment with different cleaning methods regarding the sensor when learning how to use a DSLR camera. This will ensure you get a good lifespan out of your camera, so you won’t have to wonder how much a replacement DSLR camera costs.

How to Clean a DSLR Camera Sensor

There are a few methods for cleaning a DSLR camera’s sensor, some of which are detailed below.

Test for Sensor Dust

Before cleaning your sensor, it helps to understand just how dirty it is. That’s where testing the sensor for dust comes in. Set your camera to a small aperture, like f/16 or f/22. Next, set the camera to its lowest ISO to reduce noise. Take a photograph against something white, like a piece of paper or a wall. Move the camera slightly as you snap the photo to blur it a bit to make the dust more visible. Check the photo for dust via the viewfinder screen or load the image to your computer. If you see obvious flecks of dust, it is time to clean your sensor.

STAT: Most camera makers have included a sensor cleaning function in newer camera models. However, sometimes this handy little feature just isn’t enough. (source)

Dry Clean Your Sensor

Set your camera to manual cleaning mode and hold the camera upside down so that the LCD screen faces the ceiling. Use a manual air blower to blow air onto the sensor but exercise caution not to touch the sensor with the tip of the blower. Do not use compressed air for this. Rely on a dedicated air blower for this task.

Wet Clean Your Sensor

You can wet clean the sensor using a dedicated cleaning swab. These ship in packs and are generally easy to use. Set the camera to manual cleaning mode and have at it.

Clean DSLR Sensor FAQs

What is camera sensor dust?

Dust gets everywhere, and cameras are no exception, even with a larger sensor size. This impacts the lens aperture, lens mounts, and more.

Why is sensor dust a problem?

Sensor dust gets on the sensor surface from time to time and ends up impacting the photos you take with the camera. These bits of dust negatively impact image quality.

Are self-cleaning cameras sufficient?

It depends on the camera. Some self-cleaning cameras adequately remove dust particles from the image sensor surface, and others struggle, forcing users to break out the sensor swab on the rear element.
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