How to clean a film camera

Any gadget requires a lot of care to ensure sustained good performance. And an important part of this care is cleaning. Since all machines have several delicate features, extreme caution is required in their cleaning, which can, in fact, become a complex and elaborate process. That’s because even a slight lack of care can damage the gadget, in this case, a film camera, for good. Having said that, do note that it’s not really a tough task as long as you follow the due process, step by step, and be careful about the material you use for cleaning.

From the cleaning fluid to the cloth/swabs used, everything should be good quality and non-abrasive. Anything else would be a case of being penny wise and pound foolish. Your precious film camera deserves nothing less, unless, of course, you’ve decided you no longer care for it.

We’ve listed here the best way of cleaning a film camera, with simple instructions to make your task easy.

Separate the parts

Let’s be clear – a film camera is not just one delicate part but the sum total of several of them. So there’s the lens and the eyepiece, as well as the battery packs, the flashes, the straps etc. And what’s more, each of them requires its own special cleaning procedures. You, therefore, need to begin by separating all of them, going about it gently and carefully of course.

Cleaning the exterior

Having broken down your camera into parts, so to say, the next step is to remember that this gadget, like all others, has an external body apart from its various internal components. Cleaning the exterior is a relatively simpler task compared to the interior of your film camera. This requires a clean, soft lint-free cloth, with which you’ll have to wipe the exterior clean, ensuring that you get to the corners and difficult-to-reach places. If the latter is difficult to manage, use soft cotton swabs.

Be gentle as you wipe down the exterior. If the camera is too dirty and the cloth gets grimy after a few wipes, change it and use a fresh cloth.

Cleaning the mirror, lens mount & lens

Talking of the camera exterior, as you know, the mirror and the lens mount are more delicate than the rest of the body. The natural corollary to this is that these parts require more sensitive handling and care than some others. The camera mirror should be gently wiped with a cotton swab after putting a drop of cleaning fluid on it. And you can use the same swab, unless it’s got really dirty, to wipe the lens mount too.

Caring for the lenses

And while we’re talking of lens mount, let’s also tell you how to clean the lens itself. A clean swab with a clean drop of fluid is what you need to use to gently wipe at the lens fibers to ensure a good cleaning job. Wrapping a lens tissue around the swab to wipe down the front and rear lenses will enhance the cleaning quality.

Cleaning battery terminals and flash contacts

Here again, it’s a soft and clean cotton swab you need. You can use the same one that you used to clean the mirror and lens mount with. However, if that’s kind of dirty, with grim caught on it, do go for a fresh swab. The flash contacts simply need to be wiped down with the swab. In the case of the battery pack, you’d need to clean the terminals, which you’d also have to do for the terminals inside the camera.

Eyepiece needs delicate care too

Your eye is delicate, and so is the eyepiece of your film camera. So, no question of using a used cotton swab in this case! You definitely need a fresh cotton swab, with a drop of cleaning fluid, to clean the eyepiece.

Cleaning the camera interior

The internal body of the camera also ends up with a lot of dust and grime, which can end up accumulating and damaging your gadget unless regularly cleaned up. For this, a blower brush is your best cleaning option. You can use it to gently blow away any grim or loose dust lying around inside the camera.

Strap just needs a wash

Cleaning your camera strap is quite a no-brainer, requiring no effort on your part at all. You can easily do it in a dishwasher or a washing machine, and restore the strap to its original glory without fear of damage.

Cleaning the storage box

To make your camera cleaning task easier, also ensure that you store the gadget well, in proper conditions. However, with the best of storage conditions there comes a time when you need to clean up the storage box to remove the dust and dirt that may have got in. In some cases, if there’s been prolonged neglect of the box, you may find the chrome surface becoming tarnished or the light seal crumbling in black powder. For cleaning the box, you need a dust blower and a soft micro-fiber cloth. If the tarnish is tough, you can use an eraser to rub it away gently.


So, as you can see, there’s really no rocket science involved in cleaning your film camera. In any case, if you’ve mastered the art of operating one, then how difficult can it be to clean it? Quality and care are the only two principles involved in efficient cleaning of the film camera. So, use good quality cleaning stuff, as mentioned earlier, and don’t try to save on a few pennies here and there while choosing the cleaning material. And care is the other vital part of the cleaning process. Be gentle with your camera and all its parts, which you’d naturally not mind doing if you really love the gadget.


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