Long ago, when my scanner glass got dirty, I would rub the smudges out with a soft general-purpose cloth. Apparently I was not gentle enough with a soft enough cloth. I didn't realize it at the time but I was scratching the glass. Some time later, I shined a flashlight at the glass and saw dozens of very tiny scratches.
This prompted me to read countless scanner cleaning articles scattered across the web. From all my readings, I've found assorted instructions and tips for cleaning scanner glass and photographs, and learned about the most recommended cleaning products for scanners. All this diverse knowledge has been condensed into the sections below.
Danger, Will Robinson!!
Many of these issues can be avoided by using some of the cleaning products mentioned below.
- Scanner glass is very delicate! Cleaning the glass with a general purpose cloth can easy scratch it. So can cleaning it with a dirty cloth or using too much pressure when rubbing. Using household cleaners can be a problem, too. Cleaners containing ammonia or isopropyl alcohol can leave streaks. Cleaners containing acetone, benzene, or carbon tetrachloride can damage the glass.
- Scanner glass is a dirt magnet! Touching the glass with an ungloved hand will cause an oily smudge. Both dirty hands and clean hands will transfer skin oils to the glass. Even placing photographs with smudges or oily fingerprints onto the scanner glass will get the glass dirty. Dust is a problem, too. The scanner glass is always attracting dust. If not cleaned, the dust will become part of the scanned image. If cleaned improperly, the dust can scratch the glass.
- Scanner glass is porous! No, not really. I just wanted to get your attention. There is, however, a tiny gap around the glass. This gap can let air and moisture pass into the inner workings of the scanner. Compressed air can easily blow dust particles into the scanner where they can end up sticking to the underside of the glass. Spray cleaners can shoot chemical vapor and moisture into the scanner causing sensor damage or mildew.
Delicate devices need refined cleaning products. There are a number of refined products made by highly reputable companies. One such company is Kinetronics, which manufactures such products as non-residue cleaning solution and anti-static cloths and brushes. Another company called Giottos makes air blasters, something you'll find essential every single time you scan a photo.
Indispensable items available directly from Kinetronics:
Giottos Rocket Air Blaster available from Amazon:
Kinetronics Anti-Static Gloves (ASG)
Made from soft fibers. For handling film, optics, plastics, and glass. Available in small, medium and large.
Kinetronics StaticWisk-030 Anti-Static Brush – 1.25″ (SW-030)
Soft anti-static brushes for cleaning lenses, films, scanners, etc.
Kinetronics Anti-Static Tiger Cloth (ASC-BP)
Soft and gentle anti-static microfiber cloth for dry use. Made for cleaning photographic film.
Kinetronics Anti-Static Panther Cloth (MPC-BP)
Soft and gentle anti-static microfiber cloth for use with solvents and cleaners. (Included in the Lens and Glass Cleaning Kit - LCK.)
Kinetronics Precision Optics Cleaning Solution – 2oz Spray Bottle (PLC2S)
Alcohol based non-residue cleaner which is highly filtered to remove all impurities. Dissolves oils, fingerprints, and contaminants. For all kinds of optics including coated glass and plastic. (Included in the Lens and Glass Cleaning Kit - LCK.)
Kinetronics Lens and Glass Cleaning Kit (LCK)
For cleaning optics, eyeglasses, plastics, scanner glass, etc. Includes Kinetronics Precision Cleaning Solution, Panther Cloth, and storage case. Case is labeled "Digital Scanner Glass Cleaning Kit".
(This kit or variations of this kit may contain a squeeze bottle of cleaner rather than a spray bottle, and may contain a Tiger Cloth instead of a Panther Cloth.)
Giottos AA1900 Rocket Air Blaster Large
Safe to use on scanner glass, photographic prints, slides, negatives, and everything else. Strong enough to blow off all but the most stubborn dust particles. Use before each and every scan for dust-free images.
Delicate Dirt Disposal
Upon procuring the proper products, careful cleaning can be quickly completed.
Cleaning the scanner glass:
Cleaning photographic prints:
- Point a lamp at a 45 degree angle to the scanner to see the tiniest of particles.
- Before placing photos on the glass, blow dust off the glass with an air blaster.
- For excessive dust, use a dry soft cloth to very gently wipe dust off the glass.
- For dirt or smudges, spray cleaning solution on a soft cloth and gently clean the glass.
Cleaning slides & negatives:
- Use gloves to avoid getting oily fingerprints on the print.
- Blow dust off the prints with an air blaster.
- Hold prints upside down when blowing air to keep dust from resettling on the front of the prints.
- For smudges or fingerprints, use a dry soft anti-static cloth to very gently clean the print.
- Use gloves to avoid getting oily fingerprints on the film.
- Blow dust off with an air blaster, or gently sweep dust off with an anti-static brush.
- For smudges or fingerprints, use a dry soft anti-static cloth to very gently clean the film.