What's the best way to keep your camera clean?

No more excuses! Keep your camera and lenses clean with these handy tips

Cleaning your camera isn't like cleaning your car. You're not trying to make your camera and gear look their best - you're fine-tuning a piece of precision equipment and maintaining delicate tools that can cost a small fortune to replace.

When cleaning is about making your camera work its best, it stops being sensible to just give your camera the once over and call it quits. No, you need to know what needs cleaning, how to clean it, and how to avoid damaging or lessening the effectiveness of your gear. Well, don't worry, because we've got you covered.

How to clean your camera's sensor

Cleaning a camera's sensor feels so risky to many photographers that they'd rather take it to a professional. While this level of caution is sensible - the sensor is a vital part of your camera, after all - it's also unnecessary. Sensor damage may be the worst case scenario, but it's also easily avoidable, and the task of actually cleaning your camera's sensor is pretty easy once you know what you're doing.

First, let's answer the glaring question - do you really need to clean the lens on your camera? The short answer is yes; every time you change lenses, you're exposing your lens to dust and dirt. It's an unavoidable process, and all that dust will build up over time, creating blurry spots that harm your photos.

Before manually cleaning your sensor, check whether your camera's auto-clean feature can do the job for you. You lose nothing by running this feature, so give it a try or two and see whether the issue is resolved.

If not, you'll need cleaning swabs designed for your camera's specific size, cleaning solution, an air blower, microfibre wipes, and a trustworthy light source and magnifier.

To clean your sensor, set up in a clean, still environment. Making sure you have a full battery, find the menu option for manual cleaning and select it. This will expose the sensor, allowing you to apply the blower (though be careful not to touch the sensor with this tool.) Now, test your camera. If the dust is gone, your job is complete. If not, move to wet cleaning.

To wet clean your sensor, remove the lens and again select the manual cleaning option. Add two drops of solution to your swab, then - with great care - gently swipe the sensor with the swab. Inspect using light and magnification and test/repeat as needed. If you see streaks on the sensor, you've overdone it on the solution and will need to wait for the solution to dry, then re-swab.

Cleaning equipment for cameras and lenses

Tools such as an air blower can really make a difference when cleaning your camera / Image: Sabri Tuzcu, Unsplash.

Cleaning glass and camera lenses

A similar technique can be used to clean glass and lenses, though a professional lens-cleaning tool will make the job as easy as possible. Special wipes will help with stubborn marks, but frequent passes with microfibre cloths should keep things sparkling.

Cleaning camera lenses properly

It's important to keep your camera lens smudge and dust-free / Image: Alexander Andrews, Unsplash.

Cleaning the lens cap

It’s easy to do, but once you’ve finished cleaning the most delicate parts of your camera, don't ruin it all by forgetting the lens cap. Though far less essential, it will be coming into immediate contact with the rest of your camera and could easily replace the dust you just removed.

Cleaning the rear element and mount

The element and mount are pretty well protected, but while you're cleaning other areas, it's worth employing your blower to keep these parts clean.

Cleaning the camera interior

The camera interior isn't delicate, so you can use a fine brush (e.g. a paintbrush) to clean out any debris, finishing up with the blower.

Which is the best equipment to clean a camera with?

That's how to care for your camera, but remember that getting the right equipment is half the battle. A camera blower will set your mind at ease, as will owning a fine brush dedicated to camera cleaning. Be sure to only use a dedicated camera solution for cleaning. Water is a no-no, and potential replacements like contact lens cleaner are no substitute and could harm your camera.

Finally, remember that prevention is the best cure. A heavy-duty case will delay the need to maintain your camera, enhancing its lifespan.