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Thread: How do you guys clean your optics?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Milwaukee WI

    Default How do you guys clean your optics?

    Hi everyone,

    I think this is a fairly personal issue -cleaning optics- and I am sure we will have different opinions on how one should go about cleaning them.

    Please share your preferred method.

    Of course it would depend on the situation, of course we would all like an isolated optics chamber so cleaning isn't needed except for maybe the output window.

    But here are two different situations that would be most relevant to us...
    1) Smoke and accumulated dust
    2) Mineral Oil based Haze

    Let me start out by stating what I have seen works best for the second case while working in the Lighting Industry. We use vinegar diluted with distilled water. While taking a lighting training course (omitting the manufacturer's name) they said that is the best way to battle the Mineral Oil based haze, and I have seen it work wonders. Also many of the optics (including dichroics, reflector and lithos) have special coatings on it that more abrasive chemicals can easily damage.

    So its your turn... what do you use? what chemicals? what material (q-tips, lint free cloth, paper towel, .... toilet paper?!)?

    I am interested to see your responses!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Toronto Canada


    Alcohol and microfiber cloth.
    I hired an Italian guy to do my wires. Now they look like spaghetti!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Coming to a theatre near you!


    well, I'm not sure about the solution, but I would go with some sort of disposable microfiber cloths to clean. something you could use once, which would be guaranteed not to scratch your optics, that you could dispose of afterwards, so that the next one wouldn't ruin your optics either.

    Of course, sealing your optics would help with this, but I think a Scratch-free solution is what we all want.

    P.S: I am a newbie, and not sober (read: inebriated) at the time of posting, so many observations and thoughts are clearly overlooked. feel free to correct/ratify/smack me down at will.
    "TO DO IS TO BE" - Nietzsche
    "TO BE IS TO DO" - Kant
    "DO BE DO BE DO" - Sinatra

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Wirral, UK


    For light dust contamination I use the drop and drag method.
    A small drop of IPA and a drag across the surface with a lint free cloth.
    For heavy contamination including abrasive particles on the surface the drop and drag method can scratch the optics. In this case Collodian USP or "blue spray" comes into its own.
    You just drop or spray on, allow to dry and then peel off. The contaminants come off stuck in the cured film. Got this link from a friend who is into big telescopes

    Lasers and beer don't mix. After 2 beers I lose coherence.

  5. #5
    mixedgas's Avatar
    mixedgas is offline Creaky Old Award Winning Bastard Technologist
    Infinitus Excellentia Ion Laser Dominatus
    Join Date
    May 2007
    A lab with some dripping water on the floor.


    For ion laser intracavity stuff

    KODAK (ONLY KODAK) Lens tissue in the sealed pack envelopes
    using drop and drag method with UHP grade or better acetone or methanol
    everything else on the market contains stones and other crud.

    for most work I use a medical grade wooden stick cotton swab with no glue. I rip them apart before buying to confirm no glue.

    I wet the swab once, shake it out, then quickly rewet and clean. I have a little z shaped scanning technique I use while rotating the swab about its axis to make sure picked up dirt is rotated away

    I never use eyedroppers or plastic bottles to hold my solvents.
    I'd rather spill solvent on the floor then dip the swab in the bottle.

    really big non critical optics get microfiber chemwipes if they are too big to drop and drag, things like club lights.

    When your servicing other peoples big plasma tubes, a little intracavity dirt can cost thousands of dollars in lost tube lifetimes, so I'm a nutcase perfectionist when doing this, my solvents come packed under argon.
    I test each batch of solvents for impurities and "tracers" when I receive them. Various tracers used by anti-drug agencies and water cause white films on the optics.

    If I'm in a lab with a plasma cleaner, I'll use that.

    I want to try the polymer films, I just havent bought any yet.

    Steve Roberts

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Sheepsville, Wales, UK


    What Robin has suggested sounds very similar to what I use which is opticlean. This comes is a small glass bottle with brush in the cap - not unlike nail varnish. You paint it on let it dry then stick one of the included labels on or use a small piece of sellotape (scotch tape for our american friends) and whip it off. It works brillantly and though its 15 quid for a small bottle it lasts ages.

    I buy mine here though maybe over ther you could get it from the likes of ritz camera.

    If you need to ask the question 'whats so good about a laser' - you won't understand the answer.
    Laserists do it by the nanometre.

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