How to Clean Dirt Off Your DSLR Sensor


Some time after I left Hong Kong last summer and arrived back in New York, I noticed something fishy about my photos. There was something wrong. I didn’t figure it out until I was recalibrating the white balance on my Nikon D40 DSLR (to recalibrate white balance, just take a picture of a white piece of paper or white wall). I took shot after shot, and they all came out with an ugly black spot in them. I flipped through my old photos and noticed they were present when I was snapping at HK International Airport. DSLRs aren’t cheap, and what happens when it breaks? I started to panic.

As always, thanks to the Internet, I found a solution to my problem. It turned out that dirt and dust had gotten into my camera sensor. Probably from rain and other careless handling (such as incorrectly changing lenses when I was in a rush). There are a lot of idiots who will tell you that you need to bring in your gear to a camera shop. Ignore those people for now. There also other people who will tell you to buy some kind of wet wipes. NEVER do this. You will permanently ruin your DSLR.

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The RED circle shows the dirt is consistent in each shot.

The solution that does the trick for the most part is a simple little pump called a Rocket Blower. It’s made by Giotto. You can find it at Adorama or B&H. I paid about $13 for mines.

How do you clean it? Well the Rocket Blower is really just like a small balloon pump.

Here’s a step by step guide to clean your sensor if you notice dirt on it like I did:

1. Unmount lens.

2.  Hold the DSLR with the sensor facing DOWN. This is because gravity will pull dust and dirt downward, preventing more dirt to enter and the dirt to fall downwards when you pump the dirt out.

3. Holding the Giotto Rocket Blower in the other hand, stick the tip into the DSLR.

4. Squeeze the blower a couple of times. If you want to be sure you got everything, I’d recommend doing it least 10 times just to be sure, otherwise you’d have to do it again.

5. Still holding the camera down, mount the lens back in.

Voila, you’ve just cleaned your sensor and your pictures should be shiny and clean again!

CLEAN again!

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