Can I clean my own sensor? How do I do it?

We have compiled a list of the TOP50 questions that we hear on our workshops. From gear, to settings, to composition, and shooting styles, we have decided to post three questions and answers a week till we get through them all.

We hope they answer some of the questions that you may have. Here is todays question.

Question: Can I clean my own sensor? How do I do it?

Answer: My initial answer, and the one I will always stick too when asked, is to take it to your local camera store, or send it to the manufacturers service department. Let the professionals do it… because if you make a mistake, you’ve ruined your sensor…

Sensor cleaning can be quite terrifying for a photographer to try on his or her own. Considering how much you paid for your camera, opening up the camera, and attempting to clean the most important part of your camera is a daunting task for anyone. But with some research and practice, there are quick and easy ways to clean your sensor.

So why do we need to clean our sensor? Dust and dirt can get onto the sensor inside your camera. The interchangeable lens system makes it impossible to stop foreign particles entering your camera, and it doesn’t take long for them to stick to the sensor. Heck, after a workshop I can start to see them on my sensor when shooting smaller than f16.

Most of the time you won’t notice them, but when you’re shooting blue skies with a narrow aperture, dark flecks will become visible like a dark mark, or an out of focus blob, heck, even a hair can attach to a sensor.

There are lots of specialist tools and solutions available for cleaning sensors There are dry systems and there are wet systems. Regardless of the way you choose to go, for both, you’ll need a fully charged battery and employ mirror lock up on the camera so that your shutter and mirror mechanisms stay out of the way, giving you direct access to the sensor that needs cleaned

And this is where we stop… I do not want to be the reason you damaged your sensor because you followed what I said. ;-)

Do some online searches, some quick searches on youtube and google on “how do I clean my image sensor” will produce more tutorials than you care to read.

If you clean your own sensor, and care to share your tips or products, please add them to the comments section below. The more feedback and ideas the better.

Thanks for reading,



Kevin A Pepper

Kevin is a photographer and educator based in Waterloo, Ontario. His first love is photographing nature, regardless of the season or weather condition; the Ontario landscape and its wildlife are his inspiration. But you will also see other styles of photography in his portfolio. From street photography to urban exploration of abandoned buildings and architecture, he loves to capture it all with his camera for his corporate clients and his growing personal portfolio. Kevin’s images have been featured in Canadian Nature Photographer, PHOTONews Canada, Photo Technique Magazine, The London Free Press, The Weather Network, and National Geographic Online. His diverse client list includes the City of Cambridge, Olympus, GORE Mutual, TVO, and African Lion Safari. Kevin also operates “Northof49 Photography”, a company launched in 2012 dedicated to teaching amateur photographers through International and Canadian-based workshops. In the coming year, Kevin will be leading workshops in Iceland, Mongolia, Tanzania, Venezuela, Provence, and numerous destinations across Canada. Website: