No More Dust on MY Sensor!

I found some dust on my camera’s sensor so I decided to clean it. I got my bottle of Eclipse fluid, some Pec pads, and a flashlight. I diligently made sure I had a fully charged battery, used the shutter Lock mirror up for cleaning function in my camera to get the shutter out of the way, and commenced cleaning.

I squirted a little Eclipse fluid on my pec pad and noticed that it smelled kind of nice. I sniffed it for a minute or two and felt a little dizzy. Finally, I remembered I was cleaning my sensor and I rubbed the pad back and forth on my camera’s exposed sensor. Once I felt sure it was clean, I went outside and took a picture of the sky. Back inside, and still some dust spots on the sensor! In fact, now there were more spots. Therefore, I used more Pec pads, more Eclipse fluid, and did just a little more pad sniffing. Results: more and more dust spots appearing. Auuugh!

I woke up in the front yard with my camera and I lying on our backs in a puddle of water, a still-running water hose in my hand. My dear wife was standing over me with a concerned look on her face.

I heard you screaming, have you been cleaning your sensor, again?“, she asked.

Gaaaah!“, I said.

To make a long story short, it was difficult, but after a while I got the sensor clean enough. The water hose helped a lot! Now I’m thinking of writing a how-to article on sensor cleaning. Wanna read it? My expert method works, eventually.

From this experience, I’ve come to understand one thing clearly: Dust is watching us!

After cleaning my camera’s sensor, I decided to eradicate dust from my house. I started seeking dust and found it! I crawled down behind the toilet and found some dust collecting back there. I blasted it with an air can and it fled. I then sprayed the area liberally with Lysol to kill the scary dust. I don’t want it to breed.

Next I looked above my bathroom sink and found some dust lurking on top of one of the light bulbs. I unscrewed the bulb and put it in a ziplock baggy for later washing in the yard with my water hose. I sprayed the air to make sure that dust wasn’t trying to follow me out of the bathroom.

As I went downstairs, I saw it. Some dust was on my left arm! It tried to blend in, but I could see it hiding behind the hairs. I whipped out a moist towelette, eradicated the dust, and from excessive pressure the hairs too. I hope it doesn’t scar. But, it was worth it because there is no more dust on my arm.

When I sat down at my desktop computer, I noticed that my monitor had some dust on the bottom of the screen. I squirted a bottle of sensor-cleaning Eclipse fluid on the screen, and it ran down on the dust, effectively killing it and washing it away—right into my keyboard.

After I replaced my keyboard, I noticed that my monitor was changing colors. Stupid cheap 6K Apple Pro Display XDR! I’ve been wanting to get a bigger monitor anyways.

I’ve figured it out! These little dust creatures are entirely evil and mean. They do anything they can to get to camera sensors. Maybe they eat sensor surfaces, or breed on them, or else why would they go to such lengths to get on the sensors? I think I saw a dust crop circle on my sensor earlier today. They’re clearly signaling their brethren.

As I sit here looking around the room, I realize that dust is everywhere around me. This is much worse than I thought. I’m going to go boil one of those N95 face masks in Eclipse fluid, so I can safely wear it. I don’t want to be breathing this dust into my delicate lungs, especially after all that screaming I did at the sensor dust while spraying it with my water hose this morning.

Hmmm, my chest is still sore from screaming—or is it? Could it be that dust is already in my lungs, and that’s why they’re sore? OMG, I think dust has gotten to me. It’s killing me. I’m going to go eat some moist towelettes soaked in Eclipse fluid. Hopefully that will help!

If you don’t hear from me for a few days, it could be because of these guys in white coats that my wife called. They just told me they were going to take me to a special dust-free room, with comfortable padding, to wait while they clean all the dust out of my house. Whew—I just love my dear wife.

Well, I gotta go. The guys brought me a special dust repellant coat with nice arm coverings and cool buckles for safety. I am gonna wear it for a few days to protect me while they remove the dust. I guess this will help my arm heal too!

Talk to you guys soon. Watch out for dust bunnies!

Keep on capturing time…
Darrell Young

Darrell Young

Darrell Young is an active member of the Nikonians User Community, Nikon Professional Services (NPS), Professional Photographers of America (PPA), North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA), and the author of 18 photography books from NikoniansPress and Picture and Pen Press, through Rocky Nook. You may review a few of Darrell’s books here. He has been an avid photographer since 1968 when his mother gave him a Brownie Hawkeye camera. Here is one of Darrell’s nature image portfolios.

His website,, was created to support the readers of his educational books, photography students, and clients. Visitors to his website will find articles and reviews designed to inform, teach, and help you enjoy your photographic journey.

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  1. I laughed when I read your article! Good humor.

    From Wikipedia :Dust consists of particles in the atmosphere that come from various sources such as soil, dust lifted by weather (an aeolian process), volcanic eruptions, and pollution. Dust in homes, offices, and other human environments contains small amounts of plant pollen, human and animal hairs, textile fibers, paper fibers, minerals from outdoor soil, human skin cells, burnt meteorite particles, and many other materials which may be found in the local environment.”

    Basically, there is no escaping dust. I’ve replaced just about all carpeting with harrowed floors. Carpeting is horrible. Just rip up a carpet that has been on a floor for 5 years and see how much dirt and dust is under that carpet. But no matter what I do, the dust will always be in my house as my house is over 250 years old! So we vacuum and dust about everyday; it is just a part of life.

    Can you imagine what it was like to live in Oklahoma during the dust bowl years?

  2. Funny and true. I used the fluid and pad cleaning method, and unlike my 12mp camera a few years ago, the 24mp camera was much harder. The offending two spots were almost removed, one was diminished and moved closer to the frame edge, the other was gone. But… there were six new ones. Arrgghh! I tried over wetting the sensor with too much fluid and then using two swabs instead of one, that helped, but still some dust remained, also a little dampness was visible in test shots. I went through 7 swabs, happily, the last one did the job, a spotless sensor for about $20 (UK about £17). Very happy to have won the battle, had to order replacement swabs for the next time.

    Interestingly, articles I have read about house dust all pretty much say the same thing – most dust in the home is from people and pets, dead skin cells and other stuff. Some wool and man made fiber dust from towels and so on too, so there is no escaping it.

    As sensor pixel counts continue to rise, and the sensor area size remains fixed (full frame or APS-C etc) I can well imagine sensor cleaning will become a major problem, as smaller pixels are going to show ever smaller bits of debris. Cameras are going to be increasingly weather sealed and even a pre-lens fitted within the body of the camera, behind the mount, to counter any dust attempting to do it’s evil work in the mirror box area, will become the norm. I heard a rumour that a Pentax, or was it a Fuji, featured something of the sort, an optical glass uv filter kind of mounted inside the body, behind the lens mount, and sealing the sensor in a dust-free environment.

    If it solves the problem, doesn’t affect image quality, and saves me from the horrors of swab cleaning my sensors, I am all for it. I took three swabs on my 12mp camera, the 24 took 7 before there was a) no dust, and b) no moisture. I was fortunate as I was down to my last swab and would have had to wait for the postman to bring the new lot, had number 7 not finished the job.

    The auto clean sensor function on my Nikon is useless, whenever I have had any dust, using it has always failed to do anything. The rocket blower, also, rarely works, but I have had some success – very rarely though. It seems, once a chunk of dust settles on your sensor, it is going to stay put until you physically clean it.

    That may be good news to our author, it seems the fumes from the cleaning solvent are brighening him, as well as his sensor 🙂 thanks for the laugh I had reading it.

    • I truly feel your pain! I’ve attempted to clean both my D700 and D7100 myself numerous times, spending hours using every product on the market (subsequent cleanings resulted in more, not less, spots) as well as having them “professionally” cleaned by three camera shops that claimed they were either etched and beyond repair, or that I had used too much Eclipse, which much be attracting more dust. Reluctant to switch brands due to my collection of lenses, I bought the D500 and never plan to touch the sensor myself. If things go south from here it’s no more Nikon.

  3. I seriously can’t tell you how many serious issues I’ve had with my attempt to clean the sensors of my D700 and D7100. I’ve had them both professionally cleaned by Kenmore Camera in Bothell, WA, as well as Glazers Camera, in Seattle, WA and neither of them have produced satisfactiory results. Therefore, I tried to clean them myself (after using Nikon’s built-in electronic cleaning function, which apparently does asolutely NOTHING), and after purchasing numerous after market products which have only drained my wallet and produced more spots. I feel ripped off by the inferior technology of these sensors and by their manufacturers as well. And, the investment I’ve made in lenses to accompany these cameras brings me to tears. How can I possibly use them with these dirty sensors?

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