How to Clean a DSLR Sensor – Step by Step Guide

Ever wondered how to clean your DSLR sensor without having to spend a fortune on professional cleaning services? You’re not alone. As a camera owner, we all know that dust and dirt are inevitable. However, with the right tools and knowledge, you can do it yourself.

If you have a camera with interchangeable lenses, over time, dust inevitably finds its way into your camera every time you switch lenses. The primary area of concern? The sensor. A professional cleaning service can cost upwards of £30, not to mention the time your camera spends at the shop.

But don’t fret, cleaning your DSLR sensor isn’t as daunting as it seems. In fact, it’s quite straightforward, and I’m here to guide you through it. With a few minutes of your time, you can learn how to keep your sensor dust-free and save your hard-earned money.

A word of caution before we dive in: Make sure you use the right tools. The risk of damaging your sensor is real if you don’t use appropriate cleaning tools. But rest assured, sensors aren’t as fragile as you might think. I’ve cleaned my DSLR sensor numerous times and never had an issue.

Choosing the Right Cleaning Swabs

Your first step is to get hold of sensor cleaning swabs.

sensor cleaning swabs

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cleaning swabs

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I’ve had success with generic sensor cleaning swabs, which you can pick up for around £10 or less during a sale. Alternatively, you can invest in a complete sensor cleaning kit, especially if this is your first time. The kit will have everything you need to remove stubborn dust particles.

How to Clean a DSLR Sensor

Step by Step Guide

1. Find a clean, dust-free space. This isn’t a task you ‘d want to do outdoors or in a dusty environment.

2. Ensure your camera has a fully charged battery. Then, activate the sensor cleaning mode. This option is usually in your camera’s system settings. If you can’t find it, a quick Google search with “sensor cleaning mode” followed by your camera model should help. Once activated, the sensor is exposed and ready for cleaning.

3. Start by using an air blower to remove loose dust from the sensor. This is a quick and easy first step to tackle light dust accumulation. You can get an air blower for a nominal price, and it’s often included in cleaning kits.

4. Now, take the cleaning swab. Insert it into the camera at a 45-degree angle, then straighten it up to reach across the sensor.

5. Wipe the sensor from one side to the other. Flip the swab over and repeat if necessary.

6. Once done, remove the swab, turn off the camera, and reattach the lens. It’s time to test your camera for any remaining sensor dust.


Here are a couple of images I took before and after cleaning. They are unedited JPEGs straight from the camera.

Recommended settings when checking for sensor dust: ISO 100 at f22, with your camera mounted on a TRIPOD!

Before Cleaning

After Cleaning


And voila! You should now have a clean sensor. If there’s still dust visible, repeat the process, or consider a wet cleaning technique. This involves adding a few drops of cleaning solution to the swab. I’ve never had to resort to this, but it’s an option if dry cleaning doesn’t quite get the job done.

Cleaning your DSLR sensor may seem intimidating initially, but with a little care and practice, it’s quite manageable. Not to mention the cash you’ll save in the long run. So go ahead, give it a try, and keep that sensor spotless!

Thanks for reading. I hope this guide has been useful in helping you keep your DSLR sensor clean. If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to drop them in the comments section below or reach out on any of our social channels.

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