Cameras and shooting equipment aren’t cheap, ant they are often your chief travel companion, or money maker, so it only makes sense to take the best care of them that you can. There are a few common mistakes photographers unknowingly make when it comes to cleaning, that can sometimes do more harm than good. This guide will help you identify those errors and learn to avoid them.

1: Activate the Camera’s Sensor Cleaning

Mirrorless cameras and modern day DSLR cameras most often have a cleaning mechanism that will vibrate either the sensor itself, or a filter above it, to shake loose particles of dust or hair. If the system is activated it can be very effective at ridding debris that may be causing marks on your images.

It is worth noting that you can choose when the cleaning occurs, whether that is as you are turning it on or off. If you activate the cleaning during power up there will be a delay between turning your camera on and it being ready to shoot. This may not be an issue with landscape photography but if you need your camera to be ready quickly, for action shots or street photography for example, you may want to do this as you power the camera down.

2: Clean, Don’t Clone

If you often find yourself cloning out marks from the same point in your images when at the editing stage, it may be worth cleaning your cameras sensor. Prevention is better than cure, so dealing with the problem at the source will save you a great deal of time.

3: Dry and Clean As Soon As Possible

This one is fairly obvious, but if your camera gets wet or dusty clean it as soon as possible, even if it is a weather and dust proof camera. Absorb as much of the moisture as possible using a soft, lint free cloth to dab the camera dry. Next use a dry brush to wipe off any dirt or dust.

Windy beaches can be particularly harsh on your camera with abrasive and corrosive salt and sand being blown at your gear. Salt is best removed with a damp cloth, after drying off initial moisture. You can also use canned air or a blowing brush to remove sand, but you should research these thoroughly as they are not appropriate for use on all parts of your camera. 

4: Clean in the Optimum Environment

It would be great if you could always get your camera cleaned professionally, in a dust proof booth, but this isn’t really feasible. Although you won’t get the results of a professional clean at home, there are a few things you can do to improve.

Don’t clean your sensor in a dusty or dirty environment. If you are trying to shoot and notice your camera is on the dirty side you may want to give it a clean, but you are likely to do more harm than good, as dust and debris from the shoot location will add to your issues. Instead, clean in a dust free room. Cleaning in your bathroom right after the shower has been running is one tip, as the moisture pulls dust out of the air.

5: Invest in Quality Cleaning Equipment

A standard cotton bud isn’t appropriate for camera cleaning as they shed fibres which will attach themselves to your camera lens or sensor. Quality swabs are more expensive, but they are worth the investment, as they are packaged in dust free environments. This means they won’t shed fibres or add any more foreign bodies to your sensor. Also, be careful when swabbing that your fingers don’t touch the sensor as this can transfer grease which can be very difficult to remove.