Spotless – How to Clean a DSLR Camera

Living in the tropics has taught me a lot about maintaining things. Here the humidity and salt in the air deteriorate everything at an incredible rate. If you’re not careful, the elements will take your electronics, metals, and really anything that’s left unattended. Because I love taking pictures my number one priority is to make sure that my camera gear stays in tip top shape. It’s how I make money, have fun and is the outlet I use to express my creativity.

In the grand scheme of things I’m a pretty new photographer. With a DSLR camera I’ve been taking pictures for a little over two years now, but in those two years one of the most important thing I’ve learned is how to keep my camera spotless; so today I’ll be giving you guys a run down on how I clean my gear. Note that this will not include sensor cleaning simply because I don’t have enough experience doing it so I wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing what I know, or think I know =P.

What You Will Need:


Soft Brush: This is to get sand and dirt off of the camera.
Air Spray: For the hard-to-reach places as well as optical surfaces. Don’t wipe any optics without air spraying them first!
Clean Micro Fiber Cloth: For the glass on the lens.
Regular cloth: To clean the outside of the lens and camera body.
Lens Cleaning Liquid: To clean the glass of the lens.
Ear Swabs: These are optional. I’ve never actually used them but can see them being helpful for some hard-to-get places if the camera is as dirty as the one above.

How to Clean a DSLR Camera:

Step 1: Make sure you either have a lens on or a cap over the front of the camera body. With a soft brush, dust off any debris. Use the air sprayer to get into the cracks and corners.

Step 2: Grab a damp cloth and rub the entire outside of the camera with it. This will ensure that any small particles are taken off of the camera. Dust and debri is a lot smaller than we can see. By using a damp cloth you will make sure to pick up any remaining particles that would otherwise slowly eat at the coating of your camera.

Step 3: Do a front flip, just because.

Cleaning Your Lens:

Step 1: With a light feathered brush dust off the outside of the lens. Then grab a damp cloth and wipe the outside of any remaining dirt particles. I recommend doing this especially if you live in a sandy or salty climate. Even using the brush, salt particles remain on your lens, slowly eating away at the coating. So make sure to give it a nice clean =).

Step 2: Take off the lens cap, then, using the air sprayer, spray off any little particles you see on the lens. I usually hold my lens with the front facing down so anything that is blown off falls to the floor and not back on the glass. You’re going to want to do this for a while, especially if you live in a sandy/dusty area, just to make sure. One little grain of sand is enough to scratch your lens.

Step 3: Use your breath to create moisture on the lens, then, using a clean microfiber cloth, dab the lens. If your breath doesn’t do the trick, use a very small amount of lens cleaning fluid. From a distance spray lens cleaning liquid onto the glass, or directly onto the cloth, and with a clean cloth dab the glass. You never want to rub the glass because if you missed one little piece of sand or anything, you could give your lens a nice big scratch. I usually do this a few times so that I make sure I’ve gotten everything off. Also, with the air sprayer, you’re going to want to spray into the corners of the glass to make sure there isn’t any fluid left. If you leave it moist or wet this is a perfect chance for mold and dry water marks to stay on your lens. Put the lens cap back on and on to the next step.

Step 4: Do a back flip. You deserve it, you just cleaned your gear. “High Five”.

Some extra tips:

– After I clean my camera I like to take it back out into the wilderness and take some pictures. This will get some air circulating around the camera, some sunlight to dry anything I could’ve missed and it will get everything moving. Not only that, but it’s another reason to take pictures =D.

– When taking off your lens to clean your camera remember that stuff builds up around the seal in between the lens and the body. Before removing the lens, brush or and air-spray the area. Hold the camera at an angle so that when you remove the lens any remaining loose debris will fall onto the ground and not into your lens or body.

– Store your lens with the front glass facing up. This will make it so that any debris in the camera will fall out of the lens instead of onto the glass. Better quality lenses like the L series from canon have systems in place to help prevent this from happening but I’d still recommend storing those facing up as well.

– It’s the little things that count. Keep up to date with your camera cleaning and your gear will last you significantly longer. Little things add up!

Photo Credits:
Dirty Camera Picture: CameraEgg


  1. I have to admit…I really wanted to have you tell me about the sensor…well, I’ve done. I know how to do it, but I was hoping you’d let me in on the magic secret…of how to do it easier. Anyway, great post and important! I hate, hate, hate seeing somebody’s beautiful shot online with a big ol’ spot in it. I feel bad for them! Thanks for your post!
    Corinne recently posted…Elephant Orphanage in Sri LankaMy Profile

    1. Yea the thing with the sensor is that it’s very delicate and tricky so I’d rather simply recommend that you bring it in for service if it really needs cleaned.

      I know how you feel! My brother came to visit for the weekend and he is also a photographer. He lent me his wide angle and the lens was soooo dirty. It have me inspiration to write this =P

      Thanks for stopping by! =D

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